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Saturday, March 30, 2013
Notes: Haplea, O'Leary show progress

By David M. Hale

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- With the departure of stalwart fullback Lonnie Pryor, Florida State's offense might rely a bit more on the tight ends in 2013, and that could be a boon for Kevin Haplea.

The senior, who transferred from Penn State just days before the start of fall camp last season, has impressed new tight ends coach Tim Brewster with his ability to do all the little things necessary at the line of scrimmage.

Haplea
Kevin Haplea had to adjust to Florida State's offense on the fly last year after transferring from Penn State.
"Haplea has a little thump to him," Brewster said. "He's the type of guy that I think can become a post player, and we're looking for a post player -- a guy that can dominate on the line of scrimmage. Because one thing we're going to do is, we're going to run the football."

While Chad Abram looks to have the fullback spot locked up, he may not offer the same versatility that Pryor brought to the FSU offense a year ago, and Jimbo Fisher has hinted that he could look to use starting tight end Nick O'Leary as a halfback and potentially run a lot more two- and three-tight end sets.

That could mean a good bit more work for Haplea, who is finding his footing in Year 2 with the program. Fisher said Haplea has caught more passes during the past few days of practice than he did all of last season.

O'Leary is still the starter at the position, and he's outpaces his competition in terms of potential by a strong margin. But while Haplea has excelled at the fundamentals, O'Leary is still working on the nuance of his position and hoping to overcome some ugly mistakes he made in 2012.

"He's a guy that's got tremendous talent, but he needs to understand that the details of the game are very important," Brewster said. "The fundamental aspects of tight end play, all the little things are important. It's not about the big picture, it's about seeing the little picture, the little things involved in every play."

Fisher said O'Leary continues to mature, and he hopes to see the junior tight end blossom into a dominant force this season. There have been some encouraging signs this spring, but O'Leary remains a work in progress.

"If he gets those little things, he's really tough to handle," Fisher said. "The details are more refined, and that's the challenge for him right now."

The wait continues: Fisher's early enthusiasm that NCAA issues surrounding freshman DeMarcus Walker would be quickly resolved has diminished considerably, and Fisher now sounds unsure whether his defensive end will participate in practices any time soon.

"You've got me," Fisher said. "Flip a coin."

The NCAA clearinghouse is investigating a discrepancy in Walker's high school course work, with Fisher saying the problem surrounds just one class Walker took in order to graduate in December and enroll early at FSU. Whether that discrepancy is cleared up in the near future, however, remains a major question mark, and in the meantime, Walker is limited to a role of observer at practice.

"It's a whole process, and it can become an appeal, appeal, appeal," Fisher said. "I don't see why it won't [be rectified], because that school has used [those classes] with other guys before."

Bracy still out: Fisher acknowledged Saturday that receiver Marvin Bracy is unlikely to participate in many -- if any -- of Florida State's spring practices because of his commitments on the track team.

Bracy is considered one of the fastest players in college football, but his role on FSU's offense and special teams in 2013 figures to be impacted by his lack of presence on the practice field.

"He's in all of our meetings and all that stuff every day, but he's not out here, and it will hinder him greatly," Fisher said.

Extra points: Fisher said cornerback Keelin Smith has a minor groin injury that will need to be "cleared up" after spring practice ends. … While praising the receivers as a unit, Fisher said Rashad Greene and Greg Dent have been clearly the top two wideouts. … Fisher said quarterback Jameis Winston worked more with the first-team offense Saturday and looked good. Jacob Coker earned praise for his work in red-zone drills.