Florida State Seminoles: ACC
- One of the best stories on Clemson’s roster is looking to offer more inspiration on the field this year, writes Tiger Net.
- There’s barely enough depth to fill out two rosters at Wake Forest, but Dave Clawson says the spring game will proceed as usual, writes the Winston-Salem Journal.
- Reports suggest Boston College could get a boost via transfer from a familiar face, writes BC Interruption.
- An early financial loss on the BCS title game will result in many longterm gains for Florida State, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
- Strong blocking from the wide receivers will be crucial to Syracuse’s offense, writes The Post-Standard.
- Athlon digs in to what might be the most intriguing rivalry in the ACC Coastal this year: Duke vs. North Carolina.
- Virginia Tech’s offensive line is getting bigger -- and hopefully better -- writes The Roanoke Times.
- From the Rumble Seat takes a deeper look at Georgia Tech’s defensive effort in the spring game.
- Former Pitt player Jovani Chappel was sentenced to up to two years for bank robbery, writes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The whistle-blower who exposed academic fraud at North Carolina will resign at the end of the semester, writes the Charlotte Observer.
- For better or worse, the triple-option remains at Georgia Tech, and this will be a telling season, writes Sports on Earth.
- Bo Jackson says Jameis Winston should follow his heart when it comes to being a two-sport athlete, writes Yahoo!. Worth noting: Bo used to watch Winston play in grade school. They’re both from the Bessemer, Ala. area.
- Recruiting season is heating up at FSU, as the coaching staff hits the road, writes Tomahawk Nation.
- Virginia Tech defensive tackle Luther Maddy says the Hokies’ D is destined for another great season, writes The Roanoke Times.
- The new coaching staff at Louisville will see an overall bump in salary, writes The Courier-Journal.
- Mike London’s family has special ties to Virginia’s bone marrow drive, writes the Daily Progress.
- Here’s a closer look at former BC tailback Andre Williams’ draft stock, courtesy of Scout.
- Syracuse QB A.J. Long made a solid enough impression on his coaches during spring practice, writes The Post-Standard.
- Chick-fil-A is putting the “peach” back in the Peach Bowl, writes the AJC.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State had the luxury a season ago of playing not only with future NFL draft picks all over its defense, but with senior leaders at each level.
Plenty of talent remains as the Seminoles look ahead to defending their national championship. But there is a major void in senior leadership. While the offense is full of seniors, the defense is not. There are no seniors projected to start on defense in 2014. Only two are projected for the two-deep. So who will step up to fill the hole usually filled by the most veteran players on the team?
Though senior leadership is lost from the defense, experience remains. Seven starters return, including five juniors who started in the BCS national title game against Auburn. Starting linebacker Terrance Smith is a fourth-year junior. So is safety Tyler Hunter, who is expected to return after missing most of last season with a neck injury.
But perhaps the biggest leadership shoes to fill belong to departed safety Lamarcus Joyner, the heart and soul of the defense and one of the most vocal leaders on the team. Jalen Ramsey, who will play the same position Joyner did last season, seems uniquely qualified to step right in.
Not only does he return after playing in all 14 games last year as a freshman, he has the same characteristics that made Joyner stand out as a vocal leader. Ramsey is confident in his abilities, but not arrogant. He is not shy about being honest. Like Joyner -- who started leading the Seminoles well before he started his senior season -- Ramsey is not afraid of the added responsibility. His candor has already won his teammates over. Fisher says Ramsey has been "off the chain" with his leadership during the spring.
"I think I should hold myself to step up in that area. I feel I can push other people," Ramsey said.
So does cornerback P.J. Williams, another player who has stepped up in the leadership department. Being named Defensive MVP of the national championship game has not only boosted his own confidence, but given him more authority to speak up, especially with Joyner gone.
"It’s a big role to try and step up and do because Lamarcus was a great player," Williams said. "He led by example to everybody and everybody looked up to him. Now, I'm just trying to compete at a high level, talk to my players and make sure we’re on the right page. We want to win another national championship so we know we have to work hard."
Florida State hopes a lack of senior leadership on defense turns out to be no problem. It's like Fisher tells his team all the time:
"Is there an age limit on leadership?" Fisher said. "Is there an age limit on good players? How old do you have to be to be a good player? Why can’t you be a good player now? That’s what we’re finding out."
- Duke’s football team is hitting the track this offseason with an eye toward playing faster in 2014, writes the Charlotte Observer.
- Virginia Tech’s weekend scrimmage was far from encouraging for the offense, writes The Roanoke Times.
- Miami picked up a commitment from one of the area’s top athletes, writes the Sun-Sentinel.
- Syracuse coach Scott Shafer’s first year on the job was a happy one according to his wife, writes the Post-Standard.
- Former Pitt stars Tom Savage and Aaron Donald have both turned down invites to attend the NFL draft in New York.
- Quarterback Tim Byerly was one of the standouts this spring for Georgia Tech, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Jimbo Fisher is seeing plenty of enthusiasm but isn’t changing his approach on his first booster club tour since winning a national championship, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.
JD in State College, Pa., writes: Where do you think Pitt sophomores James Conner and Tyler Boyd rank among ACC running back/wide receiver combos?
HD: I'm looking at every team in the league and it's tough to find one that compares. Some of them have half the equation, such as Jamison Crowder at Duke. But when you consider that Clemson has to replace its leading rusher and top two receivers from a year ago, FSU lost Kelvin Benjamin, James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman ... Pitt has to be near the top -- if not No. 1 -- and last season was only the beginning for them. Based on potential, though, they could be surpassed by Miami's combo of Duke Johnson and Stacy Coley, especially with Johnson healthy again. And don't forget that FSU reloads. Karlos Williams and Rashad Greene could state their case. Here's a sleeper for you: UNC's T.J. Logan and Quinshad Davis. Logan drew rave reviews from the coaching staff this spring.
HD: No hope? I'd never say no hope. Hapless maybe, but not hopeless. Here's the scoop on VT's offense this spring: The Hokies are better everywhere on offense this spring. Every position is deeper and better. Except quarterback. It's still a huge question, and one that won't be answered until this summer when the entire roster is practicing. There's plenty of talent on that roster, but until they find an answer at quarterback, I'm not picking them to win the Coastal Division.
HD: Yep, I'm pretty sure I said that one, though technically I think I said it could be the best D in the ACC, even better than Florida State's. Look, I know everyone is not used to Clemson's defense being a strength, just like you're not used to Duke being a contender in the Coastal Division race, but stay with me here. FSU's defensive line has been depleted in the past two years by the NFL draft, whereas Clemson's defensive line finally has a veteran look. I'm not going to make too much out of the turnover at the coordinator position because there's still continuity there for the Seminoles, but Clemson enters this fall with fewer questions on defense.
HD: I don't think the overall expectations should be lower -- but maybe the expectations about routinely bringing in an elite quarterback should be. Granted, much of Virginia's woes can be traced to inconsistency, indecisiveness and underwhelming performances from that position. But look across the ACC, not to mention college football, and how often does a Matt Ryan come along? Philip Rivers? There are more of the likes of Logan Thomas, Chase Rettig and Tanner Price. You're right that UVa football is capable of more than what we've seen, especially with the increased commitment to facilities, recruiting and staff salaries. It should be a regular bowl-bound team, and every now and then make some noise in the Coastal Division race, but is it going to be the next Clemson? Probably not.
Somehow, Florida State and Miami both just won.
The rivals recently unveiled their new uniforms, and neither one opted for an outlandish, over-the-top style, instead choosing to stick with tradition and class. That, in itself, was refreshing. Unlike the dreadful first Maryland Pride uniforms, Florida State and Miami both managed to preserve their history while at the same time get an upgrade. FSU released garnet, white and black uniforms, while Miami will have four new looks: The orange jersey, “Juice”; the white jersey, “Storm Trooper"; a green jersey, “Surge”; and a new alternate anthracite “Smoke” jersey. At home, the Canes will wear orange. The 'U' logo on the palms of the gloves is a creative touch, but overall it's a simple, sleek and clean look that doesn't lose any of its edge.
It's good timing for both programs for different reasons. As defending national champs, Florida State has a new look -- one that's in the spotlight again as the nation's premier program. For Miami, the tumultuous days of the NCAA investigation are finally behind it, and the Hurricanes got a fresh start.
“These young men, who unselfishly guided us through some very dark days, now display a renewed attitude and spirit," Miami coach Al Golden said in a statement. "These new uniforms capture that outlook."
"These uniforms really enhance and embody the Seminole tribe," coach Jimbo Fisher told his team, "which is what we all represent. Without them, we wouldn't be the Florida State Seminoles."
Check 'em out, and cast your votes to let us know what you think.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Florida State already has one of the best 2015 classes in the nation, but after a key prospect says he's ready to commit, it's about to get even better. South Carolina quarterback prospect Kelly Bryant continues to be a hot target with recruiters this spring, but Bryant says only five schools are on the top of his list.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- At SEC media days last summer, someone asked Alabama head coach Nick Saban if he wears any of his four national championship rings.
"To me, it doesn't make any difference how many game-winning shots Michael Jordan made," Saban said. "The only one that matters is the next one. So there doesn't seem to be any purpose to me. I have them. They're there."
You put that championship in a velvet-lined box and store it in your closet. It has no effect on the future.
Florida State, which plays its Garnet and Gold Game on Saturday, will start next season as No. 1, just as the Seminoles ended last season. The Seminoles have 14 returning starters from the team that won the BCS National Championship three months ago. That includes the best player in the country, quarterback Jameis Winston, and the best defensive lineman in the country, end Mario Edwards Jr., and other talented players too numerous to mention.
Florida State must carry the expectations of a fan base and a college football nation that expects them to improve upon a perfect 14-0 record. That it is possible -- with the two-round playoff, the Seminoles could be the first team in modern history to go 15-0 -- doesn't make it any less daunting.
Jimbo Fisher is a graduate and espouser of the Nick Saban Institute of The Process. Fisher coached for Saban for seven seasons at LSU. The tenets that Saban preaches in the meeting room at Alabama -- smart choices and personal development, focus and discipline -- are heard from the pulpit at Florida State, too.
It would be only natural to assume that Fisher would consult the Sabanic Verses on the subject of following a national championship season. Not only has Alabama done so in three of the past four years, but LSU, with Saban as head coach and Fisher as his offensive coordinator, did so a decade ago.
Fisher knows what Saban believes. He coached it at LSU. And that's what convinced him that it's wrong.
"One of the things I wish we had done better then," Fisher said in his office recently, "was actually remember we were national champions. We were so focused to me on, 'Forget that. Don't get big-headed. Don't do that,' that I think you lost the aura and the confidence of winning the championship."
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- SportsOnEarth's Matt Brown says there's no reason to forget about Clemson this season.
- I'm sure everyone's reactions to FSU's new uniforms and logo on Friday night will be 100 percent positive.
- Georgia Tech's practice on Saturday is open to the public.
- The (Louisville) Courier-Journal's Jeff Greer talks to receivers coach Lamar Thomas, who is Miami's latest inductee into its Hall of Fame.
- The (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel's Christy Cabrera Chirinos has some notes from Miami's penultimate spring practice.
- Pitt players and coaches like the changes in the roster makeup under Paul Chryst.
- Scott Shafer has an early goal for the 2014 Orange, Nate Mink writes in the (Syracuse) Post-Standard.
- Augie Conte leads Virginia Tech's emerging linemen this spring, Mike Barber writes in the (Richmond) Times-Dispatch.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- No position on the Florida State roster has taken as many losses as the defensive line over the past two seasons.
Four linemen were drafted a year ago. Another, tackle Timmy Jernigan, is projected to become the second straight Florida State defensive lineman to be drafted in the first round. The last time Florida State had at least five defensive linemen selected in consecutive drafts was 1998-99.
At many programs, losing so many players would be a major cause for concern and, as you'd expect, the defensive line has drawn some of the biggest questions this spring and last. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, however, looks at the situation differently.
Rather than lament potential depth issues, Fisher looks at the pure talent he has available for this upcoming season -- and the versatility they provide. Though only three scholarship defensive ends were available during the spring, two of them were consensus top-10 players at their position out of high school -- Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher.
“It’s kind of fun,” Edwards said. “The offense can’t pinpoint where I will be -- right or left side, inside or out. I feel I can go and play any one of the positions the coaches put me in at and be a factor.”
For Edwards, the process of not only becoming a master at his own position, but also learning several others, has meant more time studying the playbook and game tape. That has allowed the former No. 1 high school player in the country to feel even more comfortable with the defense.
The road has not necessarily been smooth for him. He was out of shape as a freshman, and last spring he had to learn an entirely new defensive scheme while following a strict diet and weight program. Edwards ended up starting, but he did not feel comfortable until midway through the season. That is when the results started to show.
Now that more of the pressure is on him to perform, Edwards says he is ready to dominate.
“I’d like to think this is a big year for me,” Edwards said. “I watched film of last year but not only was I looking at the good things I did, I looked at how many plays I left out there, just because I wasn’t aligned right, I wasn’t doing my job, I may have forgotten what I was supposed to do. I felt like I left tons of plays out there I could have made. This year, it’s reacting more than thinking.”
To help at end, Florida State might end up using linebackers Matthew Thomas and Ukeme Eligwe, whom Fisher called “dynamic rushers.” He did something similar with Christian Jones a year ago, and Jones thrived in that role.
Tackle Eddie Goldman, slated to replace Jernigan inside, was a five-star defensive tackle out of high school. Fisher said Goldman will end up being one of the team’s spring award winners because he has made such drastic improvement. Though not as powerful as Jernigan, Goldman is more athletic and a more natural pass rusher.
“Him and Mario -- it’s hard to handle them one-on-one,” Fisher said. “Eddie, his upside is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous how good he can be.”
Will he meet that potential this year?
“The way he’s playing right now? No doubt,” Fisher said.
Fisher also will play some of his true freshmen, the way he has done with guys such as Edwards, Jernigan and Casher. The Seminoles loaded up on the defensive line to make up for the heavy losses they have taken recently. Four of the seven players Florida State signed were rated four-star prospects out of high school. Two incoming ends -- Lorenzo Featherston and Rick Leonard -- are both 6-foot-7. They will not be tied exclusively to end, either.
“We like that hybrid guy, the versatility,” Fisher said. “You can go 3-4, 4-3, and create a matchup where they get locked on a back, where a back has to block them, that kind of stuff.”
Florida State took advantage of the versatility it had last season to great success. Despite more personnel losses, Fisher expects more of the same in 2014.
For all of these teams -- including Florida State -- the quarterbacks will be among the most-watched players on the field. In Tallahassee, fans will get a chance to see the Heisman Trophy winner, returning starter Jameis Winston. At every other school, there is an ongoing storyline and competition with the quarterbacks. We’re giving you one additional thing to keep an eye on that might not be so obvious.
Check it out, and enjoy the games this weekend!
When: 4 p.m. on Saturday (ESPNU) and on WatchESPN
Where: Death Valley
One thing to watch: The true freshman wide receivers. Artavis Scott, Demarre Kitt and Kyrin Priester were all highly touted recruits who enrolled early to help Clemson try to replace Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant (a combined 2,292 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in 2013).
When: 3 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN) and on WatchESPN
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium
One thing to watch: The wide receivers. They haven’t exactly earned high praise from coach Jimbo Fisher, who called the receivers out last week for not getting open and making catches. Rashad Greene is the most experienced option as the Noles try to replace Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, but the staff also needs to see more from players like Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield.
When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday
Where: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium
One thing to watch: The safeties. Louisville lost Hakeem Smith, who started 51 straight games, and projected first-round draft pick Calvin Pryor. Jermaine Reve, Gerod Holliman and Chucky Williams are the leading candidates for those spots, but Reve is out for the spring with an injury. Reve and Holliman are the only players with game experience.
When: 6 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN3)
Where: Sun Life Stadium
One thing to watch: Defense, defense, defense. It’s been an area of concern, but the defense showed signs of progress this spring. The Canes return eight starters and 16 players from the two-deep depth chart. Denzel Perryman is now playing middle linebacker, and Dallas Crawford moved to safety to give that position a boost. Those within the program have said repeatedly that the defense has made strides since last season, and overall it was a good spring for the defense. We’ll see if they can punctuate it in the spring game.
When: 3 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN3)
Where: Kenan Stadium
One thing to watch: True freshman running back Elijah Hood. The four-star recruit was rated the nation's No. 9 running back in the Class of 2014 by ESPN.com and No. 80 overall in the ESPN 300. The early enrollee has had such a good spring that he could see some immediate playing time, even though the Tar Heels are deep at the position.
When: 1 p.m. on Saturday
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium
One thing to watch: More young wide receivers. NC State has to replace Quintin Payton and Rashard Smith, both starters from last year. The talent pool to choose from includes a host of sophomores and freshmen, including two early enrollees. The leading sophomore candidates are: Jumichael Ramos, who finished the last three games of 2013 strong; Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who led the team in receiving at one point last year as a true freshman; and Bra'lon Cherry, who suffered a season-ending injury against Duke. Freshmen Bo Hines and Stephen Louis enrolled early, and redshirt freshman Gavin Locklear is also in the mix.
When: 1 p.m. on Saturday
Where: Scott Stadium
One thing to watch: Improved wide receivers. This is a group coach Mike London has praised this spring, for both its height and athleticism, as the staff has moved toward a longer, leaner look. London recently singled out Miles Gooch, Keeon Johnson and Kyle Dockins -- all listed at 6-foot-3 -- as players who have excelled this spring. Unfortunately, fans won’t be able to see starter Jake McGee, the Hoos’ star tight end who moved to receiver this spring, as he’ll be sidelined with a hamstring injury.
PITT (No spring game)
When: From 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Pitt will host its “Pitt Football Field Pass”
Where: The UPMC Sports Performance Complex
One thing to watch: Instead of a game, Pitt will hold a public event that will include a kids’ clinic, an offensive strategy session with coordinator Joe Rudolph, a defensive strategy session with coordinator Matt House, a recruiting session with coordinator Dann Kabala and a strength and conditioning session with assistant coach Ross Kolodziej.
- Florida transfer Ian Silberman gives "O-Line U" a boost at BC, Rich Thompson writes in the Boston Herald.
- Clemson's O-line is seeking answers, Aaron Brenner writes in the (Charleston) Post and Courier.
- Could Brandon Connette be transferring from Duke? CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler has more.
- Jameis Winston had some fun during a rain delay.
- Broderick Snoddy's transition to A-back at Georgia Tech may be complete, Ken Sugiura writes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Former Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons could be on his way to Louisville.
- Athlon's Steven Lassan looks at which ACC unit is a bigger concern in 2014: Miami's defense or Virginia Tech's offense.
- UNC came in like a wrecking ball. (I'll see myself out, thanks.)
- Pitt's backfield injuries have provided Rachid Ibrahim an opportunity, Jerry DiPaola writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- Syracuse added a commitment Wednesday from 2014 kicker/punter Evan Jakubowski, Nate Mink writes in the (Syracuse) Post-Standard.
- Our KC Joyner makes the case for drafting Teddy Bridgewater .
- AthlonSports' Steve Lassan ranks every FBS coach, including by conference. (No surprise at the top.)
- BC defensive back Dominique Williams shares a Brockton bond with Jay McGillis, Glen Farley writes in the (Brockton) Enterprise.
- Vic Beasley welcomes double-team treatment, plus Clemson's coaches defend their decision to make the QBs live Monday, Aaron Brenner writes in the (Charleston) Post and Courier.
- SportsOnEarth's Matt Brown looks at FSU's repeat chances.
- Kevin Olsen and Gray Crow took snaps at QB Tuesday as Miami returned to practice, Christy Cabrera Chirinos writes in the (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel.
- The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Chris Adamski looks at the importance of spring games, in light of Pitt's decision to not hold one.
- Former Syracuse lineman Justin Outten, now a high school coach in Houston, got his team to help him propose to his girlfriend, as Nate Mink writes in the (Syracuse) Post-Standard. (Video included)
Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
TBD Wofford Georgia Tech TBD Clemson Georgia TBD Boston College Massachusetts TBD James Madison Maryland TBD Elon Duke TBD Georgia Southern North Carolina State TBD Liberty North Carolina TBD Delaware Pittsburgh TBD UCLA Virginia TBD William & Mary Virginia Tech 8:00 PM ET Florida State Oklahoma State