Weekly Rewind: Making impressions

August, 19, 2012
8/19/12
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Every Sunday, NoleNation will take a look back at the week that was around Florida State, recapping the top stories and shedding a little light on a few that might have fallen between the cracks.

With two weeks of practice in the books, the Seminoles are now just a week away from turning their full attention to Murray State and the regular season. That means there's just a week left for some of the young guns and returning veterans to prove they're ready for bigger roles this season. Here's a look at five players who have exceeded expectations during the first two weeks of fall practice.

1. Cameron Erving

OK, perhaps FSU's new left tackle hasn't exceeded expectations, but that's only because he'd already set the bar so high during the spring.

Still just seven months removed from playing on the defensive line, Erving has settled into his new role nicely. In fact, he's been so solid at the left tackle position, that virtually all the talk this fall has centered on the other side of the line, where junior college transfers Menelik Watson and Daniel Glauser have battled for reps.

But don't be fooled by the relatively minimal buzz surrounding Erving the past two weeks. He's been making his presence felt on the field.

"Cam looks like he's a three-year All-American out there," quarterback Clint Trickett said.

2. Greg Dent

The junior wide receiver opened camp with a knee injury, then suffered an elbow injury just before FSU's first scrimmage. But for all the bumps and bruises, Dent has managed to put together an exceptional two weeks of practice that has had Jimbo Fisher raving.

"Greg Dent has had the best fall of all the wideouts by far," Fisher said. "He's really established himself. … He's being consistent, he's got the juice to run away from you."

After making just 13 catches during his first two years at Florida State, Dent wasn't exactly taking center stage in a receiving corps that includes standout sophomore Rashad Greene, phenom Kelvin Benjamin and a host of veterans. But if Dent can stay healthy and build upon his impressive summer, Fisher sounds like he's prepared to ensure the junior wideout has a role in this year's offense.

[+] EnlargeChris Thompson
Lee Coleman/Icon SMIChris Thompson has made a remarkable return from a broken back.
3. Chris Thompson

It's not necessarily that Thompson has done anything special during these last two weeks, but the fact that the senior running back is on the field at all is impressive.

Ten months after suffering a broken back, Thompson has returned to practice, participated in every drill, taken the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense and shown that same burst of speed and quick instincts that made him one of FSU's best home-run threats before the injury.

But more than anything, Thompson has gotten a chance to take some hits and walked away feeling no lingering pain in his back.

"Even after the first hit, I was still like, maybe that's just not enough," Thompson said following Thursday's scrimmage. "So as I kept going on and kept touching the ball. After a while, it's out of my head now. Now I don't have that fear of getting tackled anymore."

4. Ronald Darby

When Greg Reid was dismissed on Aug. 1, the concerns among the fan base were less about whether FSU had the talent to survive the loss, but more a question of which inexperienced cornerback would step up to fill the void.

Thus far, there remains no definite answer, but as fall practice builds toward the season, it's sounding more and more like Darby, the true freshman, might win the job.

"He has the raw instincts and the speed to match it. That's his biggest thing," quarterback EJ Manuel said. "That's what you want in a corner, someone who's instinctive. That's what Greg did. Hopefully Darby can contribute early, and I think he can. He has the maturity to do it."

Nick Waisome continues to get the majority of the first-team reps at field corner, but following Thursday's scrimmage, Fisher left the door open for Darby to take over the top spot on the depth chart.

"I've been very pleased with him," Fisher said. "I think he's going to be a very, very good player."

5. Kelvin Benjamin

Since he first arrived at FSU last year, fans have drooled over the possible mismatched created by the 6-foot-6 Benjamin on the outside. During the summer, Manuel raved about Benjamin's potential and insisted the Seminoles would be tinkering with the offense to ensure some big-play possibilities from him.

It's a whole lot of hype for a receiver who has yet to catch a pass in a college game, but to hear his teammates talk about him the past two weeks, the hype is well deserved.

"He's a monster," defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said. "I stand behind [the defense] and look at things as a DB looks at them, and I feel him. I know where he's at."

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