Wednesday, July 17, 2013
FSU Countdown: No. 13 Devonta Freeman
By David M. Hale
Throughout the summer, Nole Nation will be counting down the 40 players we're projecting to make the biggest impact on the Seminoles' 2013 season, taking into consideration everything from experience to potential to their spot on the current depth chart.
Devonta Freeman gets overlooked on the preseason depth chart, but he has produced in his first two seasons at FSU.
What he's done: In each of his first two seasons, Freeman began the year third on Florida State's depth chart at tailback, and in each season he ended the season as its leading rusher. That speaks volumes about Freeman's determination, and the numbers offer plenty more evidence for why he's such a crucial cog in the offense. He's racked up 1,239 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns in his two seasons at FSU, and he averaged nearly 6 yards per carry as a sophomore in 2012 -- good for fourth in the conference.
Where he's at: As Florida State gets set for the start of fall camp this year, Freeman once again seems to be taking a backseat to fellow junior James Wilder Jr. Part of the reason was Freeman's inconsistent finish to the 2012 season. In his final eight games, he topped 70 yards four times (including 148 vs. Maryland) and finished with 40 or fewer three times (including a woeful minus-5 against Virginia Tech). That's opened the door for Wilder, whose freakish physicality makes him an intriguing alternative to the more prototypical Freeman. Of course, Jimbo Fisher still suggests it'll be something of an even timeshare at the position, and Freeman has been in this position before.
What's to come: Freeman is still learning some of the nuances of playing the position, and his decision making at times last season left something to be desired -- particularly on short-yardage and between-the-tackles runs. Still, his progress was obvious, and his strong numbers were made even more impressive considering off-the-field distractions following the death of a close family member early in the year. With Wilder in the mix, it's hard to envision Freeman blossoming into a bell cow in 2013, but he should improve on the 120 carries he got a year ago, and if he simply repeats his numbers from his first two seasons over the next two, he'd finish his career eighth in school history in rushing yards and third in rushing TDs.