Florida State Seminoles: Austin Golson

State of the Noles: Offensive Tackle 

February, 20, 2013
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NoleNation writers David Hale and Corey Dowlar are going position by 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, one of the biggest long-term needs for FSU: Offensive tackle.

Current scholarship offensive tackles (4): Cameron Erving (RJr.), Henry Orelus (RSSr.), Bobby Hart (Jr.), Wilson Bell (Fr.)

Potential early departures: The buzz surrounding Erving in his first season on the offensive line in 2012 was immense, making an early exit for the NFL a possibility. But throughout the year, he showed he still needed time to develop. He has the physical talent for the next level, but it remains to be seen if he'll be ready by the end of 2013.


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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher has spent the past two months selling his program to a class he couldn't have known would come together so well in the end. Amid chaos in the coaching staff and a bevy of last-minute shifts, Fisher was the man in the middle of the action, assuring his 2013 commitments that the program was in good hands, and their futures remained bright at Florida State.

When the dust settled, Fisher beamed.

[+] EnlargeMatthew Thomas
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsThe Noles highlight of signing day might have been when the nation's No. 1-ranked linebacker, Matthew Thomas, announced he'd join the class.
"It think it was a great day," he said after Wednesday's final letter of intent came across the fax machine. "I'm very proud of our class. We hit a little bit of every position throughout the whole class."

This wasn't another sales pitch. This was as honest an evaluation of Florida State's take on national signing day as Fisher could muster.

No, FSU didn't hold together the entirety of the class it had assembled before six assistant coaches left for greener pastures. Yes, Fisher lost out on some key battles for recruits. Some needs were met, others fell a bit short.

But after a whirlwind six weeks in which Fisher was both assembling a staff and a recruiting class, sometimes nearly singlehandedly, the end result was about as good as he could have hoped for.

Florida State landed 22 players -- though offensive lineman Richy Klepal isn't expected to play for the team for medical reasons -- and ended the afternoon with ESPN's No. 9 overall signing class.

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As it is virtually every year on national signing day, there were some big hits for Florida State, and there were a few tough misses, too. Overall, Jimbo Fisher and his new-look coaching staff have to consider the Class of 2013 a big win given the immense chaos that has ensued with six assistants leaving since Dec. 1. Most key commitments held strong, and a few late arrivals turned a solid class into one that cracked the top 10 in ESPN's national rankings.

Of course, rankings aren't everything. A lot of the success or failure of a class is based on a team's needs, and on that front, there were also a few highlights and a few noticeable problems. Here's how it breaks down.


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Austin Golson headed to Ole Miss 

February, 6, 2013
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ESPN 150 offensive tackle Austin Golson (Prattville, Ala./Prattville) had a tough choice to make. Would the four-star tackle, ranked No. 52 in the ESPN 150 head to the SEC and one of the hottest programs around, or would he stick with the team, Florida State, he had been committed to for nearly two years.

In the end, though, it was the Rebels that would win out. And Hugh Freeze earned another top prospect in a class already full of them.


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NoleNation recruiting predictions 

February, 5, 2013
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NoleNation gives its picks for national signing day. Who ends up where?


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FSU's biggest 2013 holes to fill

January, 30, 2013
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A year ago, there wasn't a lot of mystery looming over spring practice at Florida State. Signing day brought another crop of highly regarded talent, and spring practice storylines included more injuries than marquee position battles.

That won't be the case this year as a rash of departures from both assistant coaches and underclassmen mean the signing class is still in flux and the depth chart has plenty of spots up for grabs.

So, as the Seminoles' spring kicks into high gear, here are the five departures that have left the biggest voids that will need to be filled over the next few months.

1. Quarterback

[+] EnlargeFlorida State
AP Photo/Phil SearsJacob Coker's size and athletic ability will be big factors in FSU's QB competition.
Going: EJ Manuel ended a five-year tenure in Tallahassee with a mixed reputation among the fans. Among NFL scouts, however, things seem a bit more uniform. Manuel starred at last week's Senior Bowl, and with NFL teams increasingly interested in versatile quarterbacks capable of running the read option, Manuel's pro prospects look brighter.

Coming: FSU has a deep reserve of QB talent in Clint Trickett, Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston. The question is which one of them can take over the job on a full-time basis. Trickett enters spring practice atop the depth chart, but Coker and Winston have too much talent to cede the job without a fight.

2. Right tackle

Going: Menelik Watson's time at Florida State amounted to only about eight months, but he made his presence felt. The junior college transfer anchored FSU's offensive line in 2012, and since announcing his intentions to enter the NFL draft -- something of a surprise to FSU coaches -- his profile has steadily increased. Several recent mock drafts have Watson as a first-round selection.

Coming: The obvious answer at right tackle would be Bobby Hart, who started eight games there as a freshman before being relegated to a reserve role last season. Hart's maturity, attitude and relationship with line coach Rick Trickett have all been called into question at times, however, making him anything but a safe bet to win the job. Further complicating matters, FSU lost one of its top recruits in Austin Golson, leaving just two commitments in what was supposed to be a big offensive line class.

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An ESPN 150 tackle was being counted on as the biggest piece for the Seminoles' offensive line class for this cycle.


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Florida State will host their final large group of official visitors this weekend as the stretch run continues to get closer and closer. Here is a breakdown of who is expected on campus.


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Signing day primer: Florida State 

January, 23, 2013
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Who is leaving: Florida State is losing three top-flight defensive ends to the NFL draft this season, led by draft-eligible junior Bjoern Werner. Senior Tank Carradine's stock would have been much higher if not for a late knee injury in the regular season finale against Florida. Brandon Jenkins, who was lost for most of the 2012 season because of a foot injury, will also be heading to the pros.

The offensive line only loses one player, junior Menelik Watson, but it is a big one. He's likely to go in the first couple of rounds and had a major impact for Florida State in just one season.

Xavier Rhodes is the lone corner departing, but it's also a big one. Aside from Rhodes, the secondary will return largely intact.


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ESPN 150 offensive lineman Austin Golson has been committed to Florida State for almost two years, but he’s still taking his official visits to make sure it’s the right choice. Over the weekend, he took an official visit to an SEC school.


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It’s no secret that Alabama is recruiting ESPN 150 offensive tackle Austin Golson in case things don’t work out with Laremy Tunsil, but after last week’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl, maybe Golson shouldn’t be only the back-up plan.


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MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- It hasn’t been easy for ESPN 150 offensive lineman Austin Golson (Prattville, Ala./Prattville) this week at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. He’s had to go up against top defensive line prospects such as Dee Liner and Darius Paige all week at practice, but he knows it’s only making him better.

Austin Golson
Greg Ostendorf/ESPN.comAustin Golson has been committed to Florida State since April 2011, but still is taking visits.
“It has been a challenge, but it’s just competition,” Golson said. “It makes me better. I hope I make them better. We’re just getting after each other. [Liner] got me at that summer camp. I don’t think I was prepared, so I had to get him back somehow.”

On Wednesday, Florida State assistant coach Dameyune Craig came by practice to see both Golson and Marquez White, who are both committed to the Seminoles.

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At first glance, this year's Florida State recruiting class lacks the star power of the two before it. That isn't to say it is void of quality, though. But Seminoles do have some offensive firepower on the list, notably four-star prospects Ryan Green, Isaiah Jones, and Levonte Whitfield. In the trenches, which has been an area of focus for the Seminoles coaching state in recent cycles, offensive linemen Austin Golson and Ira Denson and defensive end Davin Bellamy have them off to a good start.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It wasn't the first time something like this happened.

Flash back to the summer of 2010 during Jimbo Fisher Camp. An unknown, and undersized, offensive lineman named Sterling Lovelady out of Pensacola, Fla. took his spot in line for board drills.

Ryan Hoefeld
Corey Dowlar/ESPN.comThree-star prospect Ryan Hoefeld is the No. 7 center in the class of 2013.
He didn't stick out, no; there were several other players who looked more impressive at first glance. But all he did was win and display a mean streak that offensive line coach Rick Trickett can't get enough of.

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ESPN's revised recruiting rankings were released Thursday, and there aren't many changes among the 17 players already committed to Florida State for 2013.

Ten of FSU's commitments remain in the ESPN 300, though wide receiver Tony Stevens (Orlando, Fla./Evans) dropped out of the ESPN 150.

Overall, Florida State ranks fifth nationally for the work coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff have already done on the recruiting trail, and a few big fish remain in the pond.

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