Monday, May 13, 2013
Under Pressure: WR Kelvin Benjamin
By David M. Hale
Each season brings with it new expectations, and a handful of Seminoles will bear the brunt of the pressure to perform in 2013. We're counting down the top 10 FSU players being counted on the most to help the Seminoles live up to expectations.
2012 performance: As a redshirt freshman, Benjamin showed flashes of meeting his immense potential, but overall it was something of a disappointing season. Benjamin finished the year with 30 catches for 495 yards and four TDs, but he averaged just 10 yards per game over his final five contests of the year.
As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Seminoles receiver Kelvin Benjamin's production didn't match his size and potential.
Pressure point: Odds are, FSU's receiving corps is deep enough that a down season by Benjamin wouldn't wreak havoc on the passing game, but a breakout season from the highly touted sophomore could be the difference between a solid unit and an elite one. Rodney Smith is gone, leaving a major vacancy on offense for a receiver with size -- something Benjamin has in spades -- to help out a first-year starting quarterback. But Benjamin has suffered from maturity issues in his first two years in the program, and the jury is still out on whether he can figure it all out.
If he succeeds:Jameis Winston -- or whoever lands the starting QB job -- will have a huge target to work with, opening the door for a potentially explosive offense. While Rashad Greene, Greg Dent and Kenny Shaw offer some sure-handed options in the receiving corps, Benjamin's combination of size and speed are a unique weapon few defenses can handle. He's a deep threat, but he's also got the height and strength to be one of the top red-zone targets in the country.
If he fails: Greene still figures to be one of the ACC's top receivers, so FSU won't be bereft of talent even if Benjamin falters. Still, it would be incredibly frustrating to see a player with so much obvious talent languish for another year. And while Benjamin would still have two more seasons to develop, it's hard to envision the same enthusiasm from fans following him into 2014 if he doesn't show some immense signs of improvement.
Projection: Consistency is really the key for Benjamin, who readily admitted he'd lose focus often last season. What's more concerning is that, as Jimbo Fisher entrusted him with more and more big-play opportunities in crucial moments, Benjamin struggled more and more. Can a guy grow up that much during one offseason? It's certainly possible, and Benjamin now has the luxury of a year on the field under his belt. He knows what it'll take to succeed, but the question is whether he'll put in the work. Regardless, he's got the talent to be a solid receiver, even if he never develops into the superstar so many projected. A reasonable improvement on last year's numbers -- say, 40 catches and 700 yards -- would be a solid season, but FSU would much prefer Benjamin do a better job of maintaining a higher level of play rather than occasionally contributing monster outings.