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THE MAN IN THE MIRROR WAS ALL BJOERN WERNER NEEDED to see. Last spring, when the Florida State defensive end was rehabbing his surgically repaired right shoulder, he found an opportunity to better himself that was entirely in his hands. Coming off a sophomore season in which he ranked second on the team with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss, the 275-pound Werner yearned to develop quicker feet—and that meant slimming down.
The 6' 4" junior underwent an off-season of training that included a healthier diet and a more strenuous workout regimen, and by the season opener he had dropped 20 pounds—and greatly reduced his body fat. It was a rebirth of sorts. "This was my goal," he says. "I was even working out in my free time, and I became extra efficient."
With his decreased waistline, Werner's stats beefed up considerably: He led the ACC with 13 total sacks, including 3½ in a loss to No. 4 Florida.
Werner played only two seasons of high school football after arriving in the U.S. from Berlin, but his growth is a big reason why the Seminoles boast the top defense in the ACC. "As soon as I jumped into [college], I adjusted really well because I pushed myself to continue to be a better player," Werner says. "When I see that an offensive lineman is really good, I'm like, Oh, I can't wait to play him."
Adds coach Jimbo Fisher, "I think he'll go down as one of the great football players in Florida State football history."
Werner was tabbed as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year before Florida State's 21--15 conference title win over Georgia Tech, in which the Seminoles contained the Yellow Jackets' triple-option attack. Now that defense will have to contend with BCS-buster Northern Illinois and prolific quarterback Jordan Lynch in FSU's first Orange Bowl berth in seven years.
That matchup might be Werner's last as a Seminole if he decides to enter the NFL draft, where he's now graded as a Top 10 pick. But don't expect a decision until after the game. Werner still has work to do. "Seize the moment," he says. "My whole life I've always said to myself, 'What's important now?' Put your work in now, and you will benefit later."