Florida State Seminoles: Markus Eligwe

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The 2012 signing class brought 16 new faces to Florida State, but after a full year on campus, fans have seen only a glimpse of what the group, ranked as the No. 2 class in the nation, can do.

Nine members of the 2012 class saw action last season, and only defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. earned a start. But even Edwards' progress comes with an asterisk. He was slated to redshirt when the season began, and he only worked his way onto the field -- and later, into the starting lineup -- thanks to a series of injuries.

[+] EnlargeRonald Darby
Geoff Burke/Getty ImagesCornerback Ronald Darby got considerable playing time as a freshman and will compete for a starting position next season.
After a year largely spent on the sidelines, the Class of 2012 is poised to make an impact this season. Here's how we see things shaping up.

The wild card

Marvin Bracy, WR

Bracy skipped spring practice to focus on track, and now it seems entirely possible that decision could be permanent. Bracy has world-class speed, and if he chooses to go pro as a sprinter, he'd wave goodbye to his FSU football career. A decision could come any day.

Waiting their turn

Justin Shanks, DT

Despite FSU losing its two starting tackles, the position is still chock full of talent, which has managed to overshadow Shanks -- something that's awfully hard to do to a player pushing 320 pounds.

Colin Blake, CB

Blake battled injuries early in 2012 and ended up redshirting. He might have had a chance to earn a regular role this season, but Lamarcus Joyner's move to corner likely makes the field a bit too crowded. Blake will see work on special teams, but he'll need a few starters to go down with injuries before regular playing time is available in a crowded secondary.

Sean Maguire, QB

To Maguire's credit, he conceded nothing during FSU's quarterback competition this spring. Still, the writing was on the wall. Maguire has a good arm and solid long-term potential, but the job isn't likely to be his for at least a few more years.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- No position on Florida State's roster spent so much of the 2012 season in flux, and yet as this spring draws to a close, Jimbo Fisher insists he's sufficiently comfortable with the status quo at punt returner -- at least for now.

While punt return practice amounted to only about a week of work this spring, the two primary candidates to see work were the two players who bookended last season with the job -- Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw. Both remain in competition for the role this season.

"You've still got other guys that will be in there, too, but punts are more about catching the ball than running," Fisher said.

His caution comes with ample evidence, as FSU fumbled away a myriad of punts last season, eventually costing Greene and, later, Tyler Hunter the job. That left things up to Shaw to close out the season, and he proved to be relatively effective. His 12.4 yard average trailed both Greene and Hunter, who both averaged better than 15, but Shaw never put the ball on the ground.

"When they gave me the job, I tried to do my best, and the coaches say I did a heck of a job," Shaw said.

But whether it's a job Shaw keeps remains to be seen. He's got a leg up now, but aside from Mario Pender, he's had little competition.

That may change in the fall when a bevy of potential return men join the fray. Hunter and Ronald Darby will both return from injuries that cost them the spring and could join the mix, along with speedster Marvin Bracy and incoming freshmen Ryan Green and Jalen Ramsey.

Perhaps the most intriguing candidate, however, is Lavonte Whitfield, whose combination of game-breaking speed and soft hands make him a good fit as FSU's next great punt returner.

"He's very natural at punt returns," Fisher said. "That sucker, punts will come down and lay right as his feet, and he'll scoop them up and go. He's got some tenacity to him."

For all of FSU's miscues in the punt return game a year ago, matching the production of 2012's return men may not be easy.

Florida State's average of 14.49 yards per return ranked eighth in the nation, and the Seminoles were one of just five teams to return three punts for touchdowns for the season.

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2013 Spring Preview: Linebackers

February, 22, 2013
Christian JonesKim Klement/US PresswireChristian Jones stepped up in 2012 after moving to Will linebacker, compiling 95 tackles, seven for loss. He'll be a key part of the FSU linebacker corps in 2013.
From the impending quarterback competition to finding replacements for departing juniors, Jimbo Fisher will have his work cut out for him during the next few months as he lays the groundwork for 2013.

With that in mind, we're going to go position-by-position looking at Florida State's strengths and weaknesses as the Seminoles prepare for the start of spring practice.

Previous entires can be found HERE.

Next up: Linebacker

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FSU notes: Northrup makes an impact

October, 15, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher was busy breaking down film of Saturday's win over Boston College when he noticed an odd trend midway through the fourth quarter: One play after another finished with a tackle by freshman linebacker Reggie Northrup.

"I'm going through it, and I'm like, 'Daggone,'" Fisher said. "He was just jumping out."

Northrup didn't see significant action until the fourth quarter, and yet he still managed to finish second on the team with six tackles, including one for a loss. It was a huge performance for a player who had just two tackles for the season entering the game, but it wasn't exactly evidence that Northrup had refined his skill set just yet.

"It was hilarious," middle linebacker Vince Williams said. "He didn't know what he was doing, just running around making all these tackles, blitzing, shooting gaps and stuff. I was like, 'I don't know what he's doing, but he's making plays.'"

Fisher chalks it up to instincts, which Northrup has in abundance.

For linebackers, Fisher said, a big chunk of execution is simply having a nose for the football. Northrup still needs to work on recognizing keys and adjusting to different formations, but once the play starts, he's got a knack for finding the ball carrier.

"You can only teach so much," Fisher said. "He reads and pulls that trigger and does a nice job."

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