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Monday, February 18, 2013
State of the Noles: Guards and Centers

By NoleNation Staff

When it comes to recruiting, coaches are always thinking long-term. It's not just about which holes must be filled immediately, but rather where the needs might be in two or three more years.

With that in mind, NoleNation writers David Hale and Corey Dowlar are going through each position, looking at what FSU has on its roster now, and who might provide reinforcements down the line, projecting starters and evaluating the depth through 2015.

Up next, a look at the interior of FSU's offensive line: Guards and centers.

Current scholarship Guards/Centers (11): Tre Jackson (Jr.), Ruben Carter (RSSo.), Josue Matias (Jr.), Daniel Foose (RSJr.), Trey Pettis (RSSo.), Garrett Faircloth (RSSr.), Ira Denson (Fr.), Sterling Lovelady (Jr.), Bryan Stork (Sr.), Austin Barron (Jr.), Ryan Hoefeld (Fr.)

Bryan Stork
Bryan Stork is almost guaranteed to start in 2013, but whether it's on the interior or at tackle remains to be seen.
Potential early departures: Jackson and Matias will both be three-year starters with good size and athleticism, so there's a chance they could consider the NFL if 2013 goes well. None are likely early departures, however.

Predicted starters (Hale's picks/Dowlar's picks)
2013: Matias, Jackson, Stork/Matias, Jackson, Stork
2014: Matias, Jackson, Barron/Matias, Jackson, Barron
2015: Denson, Carter, Hoefeld/Denson, Wilson Bell, Hoefeld

Why they'll start: Matias and Jackson are locks for starting jobs for the next two seasons, barring injury or an early exit for the NFL draft. That's the easy part. Beyond that, however, there are some major question marks.

Stork was a key cog at center in 2012, providing veteran leadership on a young offensive line. His size -- 6-foot-4, 312 pounds -- made him an imposing blocker at the position, too. There's certainly a starting job awaiting Stork again in 2013, but questions remain about whether that will come at center or at right tackle, a position vacated by Menelik Watson.

If Stork moves, Barron becomes the obvious choice to take over at center after he started three games there as a true freshman in 2011. Even if Stork stays put, Barron appears to be the heir apparent for 2014. In either case, the starting unit for FSU's interior line looks solid for the next two seasons, barring injuries.

The real problem is depth and long-term potential. Denson is a star in the making, but FSU has few can't-miss prospects beyond that. Incoming freshman Wilson Bell is currently slotted at tackle, but could make a move. The only problem is that FSU is equally shorthanded on the edges, too.

Carter and Pettis are the only other members of the current roster of interior linemen who projects to be with the team still in 2014, which underscores just how important next year's signing class will be, and perhaps as significantly, how much pressure there will be on line coach Rick Trickett to develop talent quickly. Expect a few junior college transfers to be added to the mix.

Who might FSU add: Florida State brought in Denson (Madison, Fla./Madison County), a four-star prospect, at the guard spot and Hoefeld (New Orleans/Brother Martin) at center in 2013. Bell (Prichard, Ala./M.T. Blount) could possibly wind up at guard or tackle, but his 6-foot-4 frame suggests it will be on the interior.

Florida State doesn't have any offensive line commitments beyond 2013, but will likely load up at the position. Given the lack of depth, specifically on the interior, it will be a priority in recruiting throughout the 2014 cycle, and possibly in 2015, too.

So far, FSU's only 2014 offers on the offensive line have gone to tackles, but a handful of interior linemen, including Isaiah Wynn (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood), remain possibilities.

Long-term grade: D. A failing grade here wouldn't necessarily be an overreach either. FSU's depth and long-term security on the offensive line is perhaps the biggest question mark looming on the horizon for Jimbo Fisher and his staff, and addressing it with the next signing class is an absolute necessity. On the positive side, the potential for early playing time should be a valuable recruiting tool. On the downside, any significant injuries on the line this year are going to be hard to cover.