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Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Exploring Seminoles' 2014 RB options

By Corey Dowlar

Florida State's lone departure from the backfield, aside from quarterback EJ Manuel, was senior do-everything fullback Lonnie Pryor.

Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. return as the elder statesmen entering their junior seasons. Mario Pender, after taking a redshirt last season, will be in his second year in Tallahassee. And Ryan Green, an incoming signee, will be the fourth scholarship tailback on the roster this fall.

Chad Abram, a senior, is the lone fullback on the roster.

Given that setup, the Seminoles would likely want to bring in two backs -- a bigger, fullback-type player and a true tailback -- in the Class of 2014.

Targets

T.J. Harrell (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic), 6-foot, 197 pounds

Status: Undeclared

ESPN Scouting Report: Not available

The skinny: An accomplished safety prospect as well, Harrell is a two-way star for his Tampa Catholic team. He's taken multiple trips to Florida State already this spring and has a strong relationship with the coaches, including Lawrence Dawsey and Jay Graham. The Seminoles have made it clear that they see him as a running back and would take him in this class. Harrell continues to state that everybody is even, but reading between the lines, he's taking a liking to FSU. A bigger ball carrier, he's reminded people of Wilder with his physical style.

Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock) 5-foot-11, 183 pounds

Status: Undeclared

ESPN Scouting Report: Scott grows on you as a runner with his natural footwork and skill set and he should continue to develop into one of this class's better multi-purpose backs. Quick-twitched athlete who plays faster than his testing times would indicate and has very good play speed and foot quickness. He possesses just average size but is muscular with room to add bulk and strength. Best assets are arguably his feet and vision. He runs with his eyes and has an innate feel for closing defenders. Can pick and slide his way through even the smallest creases and does a great job making defenders miss in the hole. Possesses great change-of-direction and jump-cuts to sidestep heavy traffic and typically does not gear down much when doing so. He can stop-start and regain top speed quickly. Balance and body control are both very good.

Scott rarely gives defenders a clean shot in the hole or when stretching the ball laterally. Does a good job bouncing outside without losing much in transition. Has speed to the edge and the agility to stretch and cut up. His second-level elusiveness is very good as he is extremely shifty, but he lacks an explosive second gear. Has good speed, not elite, and it's what separates him from being a top-tier back in this class. Shows strength when needed but is not a power guy -- slips tackles more than he breaks them. Still can be effective inside with his elusiveness and vision between the tackles.

He has the potential to develop into an every-down back, but we see Scott developing more into a dynamic weapon with hybrid-type potential working in and out of the slot and running back position in a multipurpose-type role. Has soft hands and polished receiving skills. He's a skill player you want to get creative with in a spread offense and create opportunities for in space. Also has the potential to get recruited at corner and should be an asset on special teams as a cover guy and returner.

The skinny: South Carolina is the apparent leader for Scott. Florida State, and Ohio State for that matter, have always been in the picture, though. Losing Billy Napier to Alabama already created a little turbulence in this recruiting relationship, but Jay Graham did well to help the Seminoles rebound. Don't be surprised if Florida State finishes at the very least with a hat on the table.

Gerald Owens (Wesville, N.J./West Deptford), 6-foot-2, 248 pounds

Status: Undeclared

ESPN Scouting Report: Owens is a productive, big back who will likely see most of his recruitment at fullback or possibly on defense. He has a thick, powerfully-built frame and is a man among boys at the high school level from a physical standpoint. Very strong thighs with a wide hip base. He moves well north/south considering his size and massive frame, but he lacks the top-end speed, sudden cutting ability and elusiveness to project high as a college tailback. He does bring more than just an inside pounder presence to the position as he can find the hole and get through a tight crease quickly or bounce outside when needed with deceptive lateral agility. Shows the patience to stay within scheme in heavy traffic. A hard downhill runner who picks a seam quickly and stays with it with square shoulder pads allowing him to get through as defenders close. Has good feel for hard LB/DB flow and can make a subtle cutback while retaining downhill momentum. Difficult to arm-tackle this guy, particularly when he gains a head of steam. Runs with low pad level and can absorb a big blow and retain forward momentum. He powers through high arm tackles effortlessly but can be tripped up low on solo tackles. We would like to see more explosive power when wrapped up, but he has the strength to wear down a defense and is a punishing runner with multi-carry ability. Will get the tight seam yardage at goal line and really has a nose for the end zone. Displays deceptive speed cut ability at the LB level and in the open field. Not a lot of shake if defenders show up in his face quickly, though. He lacks the edge speed to turn the corner and is a better stretch and cut runner who will get the extra yards vs. poor pursuit angles.

The skinny: Owens has early offers from Boston College, Florida State, Michigan State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Temple and Wisconsin. He'd be the big bruising blocker the Seminoles would like to have in their system. There could be some battles to fight if he wants to be a featured tailback. Some of the programs on his list, such as Wisconsin, would probably appeal for that reason.

Other names to keep an eye on: Tony James (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville), Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), Daniel Gresham (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal).