Florida State Seminoles: rick trickett
It is not a very long list.
Only 37 of 1,152 full-time assistants meet that standard. Four are from the ACC. Three are from one school: Virginia Tech.
- Bud Foster, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator, 1987
- Bryan Stinespring, Virginia Tech tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, 1990
- Charley Wiles, Virginia Tech defensive line/run game coordinator, 1996
- Odell Haggins, Florida State defensive tackles, 1994
Stinespring and Haggins break the typical assistants mold, making their stories especially remarkable. Neither has ever worked for another FBS school. Haggins played at Florida State from 1986-89, then began his coaching career there in 1994. He was recently promoted to associate head coach and is going into his 21st season with the Seminoles.
Stinespring started at Virginia Tech as a graduate assistant, working his way up to offensive coordinator. After the 2012 season, he remained on staff as recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach despite losing his offensive coordinator duties.
Foster and Wiles both played for Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer; Foster has spent his entire coaching career with Beamer, turning down opportunities to become defensive coordinator elsewhere. His name has been linked to head coach openings in the past, and there is no doubt he would love the opportunity to run his own program one day. But until that day comes, Foster remains committed to both Beamer and Virginia Tech. The reverse is true as well.
What is clear about all four: they have gotten on-the-field results and have benefited from being at programs with long-tenured head coaches. Beamer has been at Virginia Tech since 1987. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher worked with Haggins under Bobby Bowden, and Fisher decided to retain him on staff. Fisher also retained two other assistants who remain in Tallahassee: offensive line coach Rick Trickett and receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey. Both are going into their eighth seasons at Florida State -- not quite a decade but quite a solid tenure at one place.
- Clemson football set an attendance record this past season.
- The Tigers put together the conference's best receiver group and best running back group in the Class of 2014, while Syracuse has the best quarterback group.
- Former Clemson defensive back Bashaud Breeland has a chance to move into second-round range.
- Jimbo Fisher and Rick Trickett break down Florida State's offensive line class.
- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson gives plenty of insight in this Q&A with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Incoming Miami player Malik Rosier will try to play football and baseball.
- Pitt football has depth issues at quarterback.
- Rob Moore's decision to leave the Syracuse football team was only a matter of when, not if.
On the field though, the soundtrack emanating from his position coach, Rick Trickett, is the same as it ever was. Maybe, Hart said, it's worse.
Hart learned his lessons. Trickett keeps preaching them anyway, and Hart's glad for it. That's the first change.
Eighteen months ago, Hart was the incumbent starter at right tackle, riding high as a 17-year-old with a bright future. The world was at his fingertips, and he acted accordingly. Trickett wasn't pleased.
"You get in that sense of entitlement, sense of fame," Hart said. "Playing as a freshman, being 17 and not knowing how to handle it."
The 2012 season unfolded the way all redemption stories must -- with a long, painful spiral toward the bottom.
Hart lost his starting job. He spent the year in Trickett's doghouse. He was told again and again that all the things he'd done to earn playing time as a freshman simply weren't good enough anymore, and that infuriated him.
"I was mad when things weren't going right," Hart said. "I was just thinking, why does everyone keep bothering me? Why is everyone on my case so much?"
The first few months weren't so much about learning lessons as they were about fighting them. The problem for Hart, of course, is that he picked a fight with the wrong person.
Trickett had no interest in coddling his young lineman. Instead, he rode Hart harder, and dangled few carrots to inspire him. Trickett wanted Hart to understand the value of the work done on Tuesdays and Wednesdays even if there was no reward on Saturdays.
That's the second change.
"A lot of things came easy to Bobby when he was younger, and now, when he works, he works," left tackle Cameron Erving said. "He wanted to feel what it felt like to actually work and earn something, and he did it. I'm proud of him."
The talent was never a question for Hart. Even at 16, he was a behemoth -- powerful and quick, but completely unrefined. He was thrown to the fire because Florida State was desperate, and Hart was special.
But it took a year of working largely in obscurity before Hart really understood that what it took to get on the field was far less than was required to succeed once he was there.
"There's been so much scrutiny over Bobby this past year-and-a-half, and he was so young," Erving said. "You take in all that criticism, and it's just like -- you've got to process it and then you've got to move on and do what you've got to do to make yourself better. He's done a tremendous job."
Hart entered this spring as the wild card on an offensive line that returned four starters. Without Hart in 2012, the unit had undergone a massive turnaround as FSU nearly doubled its rushing total from the year before. But Menelik Watson departed for the NFL at year's end, and after a season in the shadows, Hart got his second chance.
He hasn't been perfect this season, but that's beside the point. He has played as well as anyone, but when he has made mistakes, he has learned from them.
"He's responded very well and didn’t go in the tank and played the next play like we always talk about," Jimbo Fisher said. "He’s really grown up.”
Trickett still barks and curses and yells each time Hart slips in practice, but Hart's not angry.
A year ago, he viewed his early success as an excuse for why he deserved a starting job. Now, he watches that game film from 2011 and feels sick.
"It's terrible," Hart said.
Seeing how he looked before, he understands why Trickett rode him so hard, why no one at Florida State would let him settle for what he'd already accomplished. He's both embarrassed and inspired.
That's the biggest change.
"It's good to see where you were and where you are now," Hart said. "But I have a long way to go and I don't plan on stopping now."
The mantra was repeated so often, in fact, that line coach Rick Trickett adopted it as the unit's rallying cry. Before each game, Trickett would gather his troops and remind them where they stood.
"He'd come up and be like, 'What are we not going to do?'" guard Tre' Jackson said. "And we'd be like, 'We're not going to mess it up.' We used it as motivation."
After a dismal 2011 campaign in which Florida State ranked 105th in the nation in rushing and 110th in sacks allowed, the unit blossomed with new personnel, cutting its sack total nearly in half and opening up running lanes to the tune of 5.62 yards per rush -- the fourth-best mark in the country.
Now, just a year after being labeled the black sheep of the position groups, Florida State's offensive line is a strength.
"That's as good a group as we've had," Jimbo Fisher said. "I've been around a long time, and that's a very good group up front."
It's essentially the same group that worked together throughout the 2012 season, save the right tackle spot, where junior Bobby Hart steps in to replace the departed Menelik Watson.
When that group took the field against Murray State for FSU's opener last season, the starters had just 16 career starts between them -- 14 of which belonged to center Bryan Stork. With Hart, who started nine games as a freshman in 2011, this season's starting five will open the year with 80 starts under their belt. Overall, the FSU depth chart at offensive line has more career starts than all but nine other teams in the country.
Perhaps the most surprising part about the progress made by the line is that, of the five projected starters, Hart is the only member who was highly recruited out of high school. Jackson and Stork were both three-star recruits. Left tackle Cameron Erving was a two-star player who was offered late by FSU and ignored by virtually everyone else. Now, all three -- along with guard Josue Matias -- are working their way up NFL draft boards.
"I think our starting five, athletically and ability-wise, yes, we're probably the most talented we've been since we've been here," Trickett said.
A few injuries have thinned the ranks, but Trickett said he's narrowing in on a depth chart with eight reliable options on the line, and the starting group looks to be firmly established after Hart's strong spring.
Still, there are some concerns.
Florida State ran for a whopping 2,882 yards last season, but critics are quick to point out that the bulk of that total came against severely overmatched opponents. Florida State's offensive line averages 317 pounds, and manhandling undersized defenders was easy. Against more formidable defenses, however, the yards were tougher to find.
In the eight games FSU played against teams with run defenses ranked 60th or worse nationally, the Seminoles averaged 6.5 yards per carry and scored 31 rushing touchdowns. In their other six games against better run defenses -- NC State, USF, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Florida and Northern Illinois -- that average dropped to just 4.3 yards per rush and the Seminoles scored just nine times on the ground.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, in the six games against better defensive fronts, FSU had 64 rushes that resulted in no gain or lost yardage. In the other eight games, it had just 50.
Set aside mid-major Northern Illinois and exclude a 22-yard scamper by EJ Manuel on FSU's final play against Florida, and the Seminoles averaged just 1.6 yards before contact against the five best run defenses they faced last season. Against everyone else, that number jumps to 3.6 yards before contact.
None of those numbers are particularly damning, but they serve as a reminder that there's still something for the unit to prove.
"We have the potential to be one of the best O-lines in the country," Stork said, "but that's only going to happen if we put the team on our backs and get yards for our running backs."
Running the ball will be a top priority with a new quarterback taking the snaps, and Jackson said coaches have made it a point of emphasis to run early and often. But protecting a first-year starting quarterback will be key, too, and that's where losing Watson might hurt. In the 10 quarters Florida State played without him last season it allowed 10 sacks. The Seminoles gave up just 16 sacks the rest of the season.
But Hart's emergence this spring after a year in Trickett's doghouse has been one of the bright spots for FSU, and even the irascible line coach is pleased with the results.
"[Hart] still has a tendency to do some things his way technique-wise ... but he's progressed a great deal from last year," Trickett said.
Watson went from a juco transfer with virtually no experience to a top NFL draft pick in just nine months at Florida State, but he wasn't alone in his rapid ascent throughout the 2012 season.
A year ago, even the optimists among Florida State's fanbase recognized the weakness. Now, the offensive line is leading the charge. But if expectations have changed markedly, the mindset of the group hasn't.
"We still get motivated the same way," Matias said. "Last year, we were the group that was supposed to mess it up. That was our motivation. This year's the same. We're going to have the spotlight on us the first time we make a mistake, so we're trying to do the same thing."
That school was Florida State.
And Florida State was school he announced for Wednesday at The Opening.
“It's a great school,” said Martinez, who is ranked as the No. 274 player overall in the ESPN 300, earlier this week.
“You can't say anything bad about them. With all the recruiting classes they are bringing in, they are definitely getting up there near the top. Coach [Rick] Trickett and I have a great relationship. We've bonded over the years and the times that I've been over there. Our relationship is really good. Not a lot of kids like Coach Trickett's coaching style, but I don't mind it. It's something that appeals to me.”
What is also appealing is the offensive class that Florida State is building. After landing a commitment earlier today from defensive back Trey Marshall, the Noles have 17 commitments. Many of those pledges are slated to help reload an offensive line that could use more depth.
Martinez is the third quality offensive lineman to join the FSU class, but is also the highest-ranked prospect to join the group. Combined with three-star offensive guard Alec Eberle (Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee) and three-star offensive tackle Ethan Frith (Summit, Miss./North Pike), the Noles now have about as solid of a foundation as they can with their offensive line class.
But the Noles hope they aren't done on the offensive line.
FSU is in good shape with highly regarded offensive tackles Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central) and Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) and is still fighting to make up ground for tackle David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School). If the Noles can land even one, but possibly pull in two of the three, then it could go down as one of the nation’s best offensive line classes.
Offers: Alabama, Boston College, Connecticut, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Marshall, Miami, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Rutgers, South Florida, Tennessee, UCF, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and West Virginia
Interesting note: Martinez will announce his commitment out in Oregon at The Opening on July 3.
Offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Wisconsin
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Previously weighing in at 336 pounds, the offensive tackle this time checked in at 292 pounds. In the end, it very well could have earned him a spot on the Seminoles roster, especially given he ended up committing later in the day.
"I just wanted to compete and show Coach Jimbo [Fisher]," he said. "Since the last time I came here, I have lost 25 or so pounds.
“I just felt like it is the right place for me,” Frith said. “I love it down here. I like all of the coaches. I like all of the people down here. I just felt like it was home for me and it is where I should be.”
Right after his workout at the camp, Frith indicated he wasn't sure where he was in regard to making a decision. It certainly didn't appear imminent.
But in talking things over, Frith got the feeling that it was the place for him.
“Coach Trickett, getting to working with him and talking to him,” Frith said. “Then getting a chance to sit down and talk with him.
“He is a great coach,” Frith said. “I’ve been around [tough coaches] all of my life, so it isn’t anything new. I am looking forward to it. I plan on going to the NFL and he is the one who can get me there.”
Head coach Jimbo Fisher was expectedly happy with the news that he had a new offensive tackle coming in.
“He was excited,” Frith said. “I don’t think he expected me to, but he was excited when I did.”
As for the weight loss, Frith is in a position to stay trim. He's established new eating habits that set him up for prolonged success.
"Eating healthier, no fried foods, no cokes or Mountain Dews," he said. "My 40-yard dash has gotten faster. I'm more agile."
Frith is the Seminoles' 12th commitment of the 2014 class.
With a summer schedule of camps packed to the brim, the interior offensive lineman was going to get to some schools, but the others would have to be sacrificed. And one of them in particular was pretty important.
Hoefeld was supposed to be in another college town that started with a "T", but it wasn't Tallahassee.
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Rick Trickett was already heading into the film room to watch tape of the day's workouts, but former FSU assistant Dameyune Craig was happy to make an introduction -- with just one, small warning.
"Just count the number of F-bombs he drops," Craig told Hoefeld.
"It ended up being like 27," Hoefeld said. "That was when I first started really liking him."
Hoefeld is not alone. Trickett pulls no punches, and that's made him a hero for many of the hard-scrabble, blue-collar linemen who have called Florida State home during the past six years. But that gruff personality doesn't always endear him to players with a softer side or fans concerned about Trickett's negative effect on recruiting. In fact, there might not be a more divisive figure in Tallahassee than the diminutive ex-Marine with a penchant for breaking down weak players and building the strong ones into NFL prospects.
"What young guys don't understand is, the way Coach Trickett teaches it, it's a business," said former FSU tackle Menelik Watson, a second-round selection by the Oakland Raiders in this year's NFL draft. "If you don't come with the mindset that you want it, you're going to struggle. … A lot of players don't understand that."
A Vietnam veteran, Trickett began his coaching career in 1973 and in the 37 seasons since, he's coached seven All-Americans and sent nearly three dozen players on to the NFL, with Watson, a junior college transfer with virtually no football experience, his latest success story.
But Trickett’s old-school approach doesn't always play well with 17-year-old prospects. While a handful of players like Hoefeld have been drawn to Trickett's stern demeanor, the overall depth on offensive line has lagged noticeably in spite of Florida State's immense success in other areas on the recruiting trail.
Two seasons ago, FSU's only signings on the line were Watson and Daniel Glauser, both junior college players who have already moved on. Last season, Trickett landed three players -- Hoefeld, three-star tackle Wilson Bell and four-star guard Ira Denson -- but missed out on a handful of top targets. As the 2014 class begins to take shape, there is no bigger area of concern for the Seminoles than finding some much-needed depth on the line.
Before Bell committed in February, he had a long talk with FSU guard Josue Matias. It wasn't a sales pitch as much as it was a warning.
"[Matias] was like, 'If you do come, he's going to be the best coach you've ever had, but he's going to be hard on you, he's going to stay on you, he's going to grind on you.' "
Hoefeld heard similar horror stories, but he was prepared. In high school, Hoefeld's line coach was a mild-mannered religion teacher, but on game days, he was restricted to the press box because his on-field outbursts were a little too explosive. Hoefeld found Trickett to be a kindred spirit.
But for all the advanced warning, Trickett's approach is still jarring. On the practice field, his players tower over him and even Jimbo Fisher cracks jokes about Trickett's small stature, but no one commands more attention.
There's cursing and yelling and zero tolerance for mistakes, and no one manages to escape Trickett's wrath for long. In the midst of it all, however, there are lessons.
"I've had coaches who would scream and yell and curse, but they didn't have a clue how to teach a kid something," Watson said. "He does. People hear the screaming and hollering, but forget he's trying to teach something. I figured that out early."
At 23, Watson had the luxury of maturity. Not all of Trickett's players are so lucky.
Bobby Hart was just 16 when he arrived on campus two years ago. A wave of injuries on the line forced him into a starting job in 2011, and he showed promise, but by the time spring practice began last year, he'd shown little progress and had put forth only minimal effort. This was something Trickett wouldn't tolerate.
Trickett shipped Hart to the bench, where he remained for virtually the entire season. He might have been a backup again in 2013 had Watson not departed early for the NFL, but when his second chance came, Hart knew what he had to do.
"It's hard, but he's just a perfectionist, and he wants you to understand that there's a right way to do everything," Hart said. "He's big on work ethic. He wants you to give 100 percent, and that's all you have to do."
For most high-school sophomores and juniors, however, life with Trickett can be an intimidating prospect -- and that's a concern other coaches are happy to exploit.
"Nobody bashed him for not being a good coach, but I heard he was going to push you, going to yell at you and all of that," Bell said of his recruitment. "Other recruiters said, 'He's going to punch you, he's going to kick you.' And I said, the guy knows what he's talking about. He can do whatever he has to do to get me to the next level. Whatever it takes."
For Bell, he'd heard such horrific tales that he was determined to separate fact from fiction. For other players, however, the negative recruiting works, and Trickett's divisive personality can become a serious liability.
For Florida State, however, there appears to be little obvious concern. Trickett turned a group of players with just 16 career starts between them into one of the ACC's top lines in 2012. FSU finished with the fourth-best yards-per-rush average in the nation, while coughing up 14 fewer sacks than the year before. Trickett was rewarded with a three-year contract extension that will pay him more than $450,000 per season and keep him in Tallahassee through 2015.
There are detractors who worry the deal has doomed FSU’s recruiting prospects for the foreseeable future. So far, the Seminoles' lone offensive line commitment for 2014 is Alec Elerbe, a 270-pound guard from Virginia with only Maryland and Connecticut as his only other BCS offers.
Still, Trickett would be the first to argue with the significance of recruiting results. In their first meeting in FSU's film room, Trickett was quick to shrug off Hoefeld's recruiting ranking.
"I don't care about the stars," Trickett told him.
Not every player wants to play for a coach like Trickett, and Trickett isn't interested in every five-star prospect. The yelling and the cursing are as much a weeding out process as they are a tool for teaching.
Trickett demands that the path be difficult. It ensures the rewards are great for those who survive.
"I felt like I was one of the best prepared offensive linemen [at the NFL combine] just because of who I worked with last year, working with Coach Trickett," Watson said. "I don't believe anyone got coached the way I did or as hard as I did."
Offensive line coach Rick Trickett, a former Marine, has a reputation that sounds a lot like a drill sergeant. He's rough and tough on his players, and sometimes, perhaps, says a few things that wouldn't be appropriate at the dinner table.
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No. 3: RT Bobby Hart
2012 performance: Hart's sophomore season was a huge step back in terms of productivity, but it may have been the most important step of his career. A starter at age 17 in 2011, Hart quickly adopted a lackadaisical attitude toward practice and found himself in line coach Rick Trickett's doghouse. He lost his job to transfer Menelik Watson, didn't start a game in 2012 and saw only limited playing time. The time spent on the sideline may have been a setback on his career path, but it also opened Hart's eyes to the fact that he hadn't accomplished anything yet.
If he succeeds: An offensive line that was solid if unspectacular in 2012 could make the leap forward to become one of the top units in the country in 2013. Hart's the swing vote in that potential growth. The other four starters from last year return, all expecting to improve after a year in the trenches. But Watson was, in many ways, the glue that held last year's line together, and its struggles when he was hurt underscored that notion. If Hart can become a viable replacement -- on the field and, perhaps as importantly, in terms of maturity off it -- the rest of the group should coalesce nicely, and the star-crossed tackle's career could once again be on an upward climb toward an NFL future.
If he fails: All that experience and growth from 2012 could fall by the wayside if Hart proves incapable of handling the job. If Trickett pulls the plug and sends Hart to the sidelines once again, there are few easy alternatives. Bryan Stork, a steadying force at center last season, would likely slide out to replace Hart on the right side, and Austin Barron would step in at center. FSU already has depth concerns on the O-line, and that makes any major shakeup a concern. But after a year of building continuity for a group that struggled badly in 2011, another major renovation is the last thing the Seminoles need.
Projection: There will be obvious comparisons between Hart and Watson this season, but that's a bit unfair. Watson was 23, and while his football experience was limited, he was a veteran of the ups and downs of life. He was as mature a leader as FSU had on offense, and he had the skill set to develop quickly. Hart is another story. He arrived on campus at 16, and he had a ton of learning still to do -- not just on the field. The trials and tribulations of the past year have taught some valuable lessons, but replacing Watson won't be an easy task. NFL-level tackles don't grow on trees. Hart's ceiling might be nearly as high as Watson's, but he's got farther to go to reach it. FSU will likely be satisfied with marked progress from 2012, and as long as Hart keeps heading in the right direction, he might reach Watson's level by season's end.
Jacob Farhenkrug, a junior college prospect playing in North Dakota, was sought out by the Seminoles in the Class of 2011. He has started 16 games in his career and will provide depth in 2013 if he can overcome a shoulder injury.
Then there was Menelik Watson, a recent draft pick of the Oakland Raiders.
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Late last week, offensive line coach Rick Trickett dropped by the school to check on the 6-foot-6, 350-pound tackle to make sure he knew they were interested.
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