Florida State Seminoles: ACC
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)
- Jimbo Fisher approves of the new FSU logo, our Jared Shanker writes.
- Despite Deshaun Watson's injury, Clemson's staff probably doesn't second-guess itself for making its QBs live on Monday, Aaron Brenner writes in the (Charleston) Post and Courier. Tough break for former Clemson tackle Brandon Thomas, who tore the ACL in his right knee last week, a month before the draft.
- Bobby Petrino talks to the (Louisville) Courier-Journal's Jeffrey Greer about his return to the Cardinals.
- Al Golden says Ryan Williams will hopefully have surgery on Wednesday, Christy Cabrera Chirinos writes in the (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel.
- Mitch Trubisky is looking to win the UNC QB job over Marquise Williams, Andrew Carter writes in the (Raleigh) News & Observer.
- Pitt football features a mutual admiration society, Sam Werner writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Syracuse will play host to Colgate in 2016, Nate Mink writes in the (Syracuse) Post-Standard.
Fisher was asked his thoughts on the new logo, which will be officially released April 11, following Monday's practice.
"It’s still our Seminole Head. It’s a beautiful head," he said. "It doesn’t change Florida State, what our values are, what our systems are. I don’t see the issue with it."
It was reported last week Florida State planned to change its logo. There were rumors the Seminole Tribe of Florida asked the university to alter the Seminole logo, but both the Tribe and Florida State told ESPN.com that it was a university decision. In a statement released last week, Florida State said the alterations began almost two years ago and the Tribe, student-athletes, coaches, boosters and administration were all consulted. The university had issues reproducing some of the details in the original Seminole logo and asked Nike to help produce a logo that can be achieved on a consistent basis.
That set off a faction of the Florida State fan base, which took to social media to voice its displeasure. The athletic department's official Twitter responded to the negative feedback by telling its followers they can offer their opinions to the school in an email.
"Did I like the old one? Yes. Do I like the new one? Yes. It’s our logo and not drastically that much different," Fisher said. "To me, I haven’t been there that long, but I’ve been a Florida State fan, too, and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. If the Seminole Tribe is fine with things and they like that, to me, that’s great. But it still doesn’t change our traditions, our values and what we are."
Noles quarterback Jameis Winston is also a fan of the new logo. He offered his thoughts in a tweet.
- BC Interruption's A.J. Black offers his thoughts on BC's spring game.
- Former Clemson stars are assisting in a new fundraising effort, Mandrallius Robinson writes in the Greenville News.
- Count Jameis Winston as a fan of the new FSU logo.
- Bobby Petrino's changes are off the field this time, Jeff Greer writes in the (Louisville) Courier-Journal.
- The (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel's Christy Cabrera Chirinos looks at what's next for Miami after Ryan Williams' injury.
- NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett talks with the Orlando Sentinel's Matt Murschel.
- Pitt running back James Conner calls the pain in his sprained left knee a minor setback, Jerry DiPaola writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The (Syracuse) Post-Standard's Nate Mink looks at what to expect from the tight end position in Year 2 of George McDonald's offense.
Of course, that’s nothing new for Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher. He has signed a junior college player every recruiting cycle since he was named coach in 2010, and that will be extended again in 2015.
“Those guys are making an impact,” Fisher said, “… and we’ve had some pretty good success with our guys here lately.”
That’s a slight understatement from Fisher. Former Noles Menelik Watson and Cornellius Carradine were both second-round selections in the 2013 NFL draft, and Fisher could have another player from the juco ranks taken high in the draft in the coming years. Last week, Fisher said Kareem Are, who enrolled in January out of Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, is the surprise of spring practice.
Are has only participated in half of Florida State’s practices, but he has seen significant time with the first-team offense at left guard as the Noles battle some injuries and experiment with varying lineups along the offensive line. Senior Cameron Erving has been alongside Are for much of those drills working at left tackle and even some center. Erving said there is a different level of maturity with Are and junior college players in general.
“For the most part the guys we’ve had here that transferred from juco, they’ve come with a different focus,” Erving said. “They were hungry and always felt like they had something to prove. Those guys have always played hard from what I’ve seen, seeing Menelik, seeing Kareem come from juco, seeing guys like [senior Desmond Hollin].
Troy Morrell has coached Butler (Kan.) Community College to three national championships in his 15 seasons as coach. He said junior college recruits are better prepared physically and academically than they were even just a few years ago. Watson declared for the NFL after just one season at Florida State. Coaches are constantly looking for ways to improve their team, and the junior college ranks have a number of able bodies that can contribute immediately.
“They’re going to maybe be more prepared in the classroom. That gives the schools a little more freedom to be able to recruit a junior college kid that maybe they haven’t been able to before,” Morrell said.
“And there’s a tremendous amount of pressure for those big schools to win.”
Boston College (March 12)
Big name: RB Andre Williams. Representatives from 29 NFL teams were on hand to see the nation's top running back from last season. Williams says he improved on his combine 40-yard-dash time of 4.56. Also of note: Nate Freese, who went 20 of 20 last season on field goal tries, did not disappoint in front of his future employers, hitting a 60-yard try.
Big name: WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins stood on his 40 time of 4.43 from the combine but was there to help out quarterback Tajh Boyd, doing little to change the general consensus that he is the top receiver in this year's draft. Boyd said scouts told him his performance was much better than his showings at the combine and Senior Bowl, as he connected on short, intermediate and deep routes with familiar receivers in familiar environs.
Duke (March 26)
Big name: CB Ross Cockrell. Cockrell improved on his combine results, with Duke saying that his 40 time was sub-4.4, which is better than what he ran in Indianapolis (4.56).
Florida State (March 17)
Big name: Where to begin? DL Timmy Jernigan slightly improved his combine 40-time from 5.06 to 5.03. S Terrence Brooks, LB Telvin Smith, DB Lamarcus Joyner and LB Christian Jones all drew a crowd, but they declined to run the 40 in front of reps from all 32 NFL teams, content to sit on their combine performances.
Georgia Tech (March 28)
Big name: LB Jeremiah Attaochu. Attaochu ran drills at both linebacker and defensive lineman, recovering nicely from a hamstring injury in the Senior Bowl that forced him out of the combine. He said his 40 time was in the 4.5s. DB Jemea Thomas also impressed, reportedly running a 4.38 40.
Louisville (March 17)
Big name: QB Teddy Bridgewater. With scouts from 29 teams watching, Bridgewater was off target with several of his throws. He ran an unofficial 4.78 40 time, but the potential No. 1 pick misfired on at least 10 passes, leaving some questions lingering heading into the draft.
Miami (April 3)
Big name: OT Seantrel Henderson. This is the name that is going to stick out, as Henderson did not finish his workouts. His agent later told reporters that it was due to dehydration. With 30 NFL teams represented, quarterback Stephen Morris took a strong step forward, reportedly completed almost all of his 67 throws.
North Carolina (March 25)
Big name: TE Eric Ebron. Ebron stood on his 40 time from the combine of 4.60, but his pro day was marred by several dropped passes, though the always upbeat tight end was not stressed about the drops when speaking to reporters afterward.
NC State (March 25)
Big name: CB Dontae Johnson. Johnson showed his versatility, as he can play corner or safety, and he said he felt better than he did at the combine, where he ran a 40 time of 4.45 and jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical.
Pittsburgh (March 3)
Big name: DT Aaron Donald. College football's best defensive player rested on his combine numbers in the 40 (4.68) and bench press (35 times), but teammates Tom Savage and Devin Street helped themselves. Savage impressed during a scripted 100-throw workout while Street said he ran a sub-4.5 40.
Big name: LB Marquis Spruill. Spruill recovered nicely from a combine snub, weighing in at 231 pounds, nine pounds heavier than his playing weight. He did not disclose numbers. Running back Jerome Smith, meanwhile, said he ran in the 4.5-4.6 range, which would be an improvement over his combine time of 4.84.
Virginia (March 17)
Big name: OT Morgan Moses. A considerably different-looking Moses showed up at 311 pounds, roughly 20 pounds lighter from his playing days with the Cavaliers. After clocking in at 5.35 in the 40 at the combine, he unofficially ran between 4.9 and 5.06 at his pro day, though he pulled a hamstring during one of the runs, forcing him to miss the remainder of his drills.
Virginia Tech (March 19)
Big name: QB Logan Thomas. Thomas remains a fascinating prospect to keep an eye on in the NFL, and he threw well in front of NFL scouts at pro day. Corner Antone Exum impressed as well, running 40 times of 4.53 and 4.55.
Wake Forest (March 17)
Big name: WR Michael Campanaro. After seeing his final year end prematurely because of a shoulder injury, Campanaro, the only Demon Deacon to have garnered a combine invite, again impressed in receiver drills, making his case to become a potential mid-round pick. Nose guard Nikita Whitlock, meanwhile, saw himself lining up as a fullback for the first time in his career. Weather conditions were less than ideal for the NFL hopefuls.
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