Florida State Seminoles: Spring Preview

2013 Spring Preview: Quarterback

March, 20, 2013
3/20/13
11:30
AM ET
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.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesWhile Florida State is loaded with talent at quarterback, redshirt freshman Jameis Winston stands out the most.
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.

Last up: Quarterback

2012 recap: It's not that Florida State fans universally loved EJ Manuel. In fact, few players on last season's roster proved quite as divisive as the veteran quarterback. But while Manuel's season offered highs and lows, and the fanbase included plenty of supporters and detractors, the overall body of work was impressive. Manuel's 156.03 QB rating and 8.8 yards per attempt were tops in the ACC (behind only Tajh Boyd) and his 68 percent completions led the conference. Manuel started every game for the first time in his career, too, meaning FSU's backups saw the fewest snaps during any season in more than a decade.

Departures: Manuel's durability and consistency might not have been fully appreciated by the fanbase in 2012, but it's certainly being noticed now that he's leaving. Manuel's tenure wrapped up a six-year period of relative calm at the position that coincided with Fisher's tenure with the program. Fisher tabbed Christian Ponder as a starter early on, and Manuel was the obvious heir apparent. Ponder became a first-round pick in the NFL draft, and Manuel still retains hopes of being one of the first quarterbacks off the board this year. Of course, the biggest question around Tallahassee after a season in which Manuel was responsible for 90 percent of the passing attempts is which of his backups will step into the starting job.

(Read full post)

2013 spring preview: Safety

March, 15, 2013
3/15/13
8:30
AM ET
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 entrees can be found HERE.

[+] EnlargeKarlos Williams
AP Photo/Don Juan MooreWill 2013 be Karlos Williams' (above) year to step up and fill the big shoes of Lamarcus Joyner?
Next up: Safety

2012 recap: For all the questions surrounding Terrence Brooks' move to safety or Karlos Williams' role in the rotation, it turned out that 2012 was a remarkably quiet and consistent season for FSU at the position. Lamarcus Joyner was once again exceptional, earning All-ACC honors, Brooks struggled a bit against Clemson but overall found solid footing in his new role, and Williams made strides but never quite cracked the starting lineup. As a unit, the secondary helped Florida State finish tops in the nation in pass defense, and the safeties were exceptional at avoiding the big play. The Seminoles allowed just 41 passing plays of 15 yards or more in 2012, the fewest in the nation.

Departures: Does Joyner count as a departure? He certainly toyed with the idea of leaving altogether, entering the NFL draft where he figured to be a mid-round selection, but ultimately the undersized safety chose to return for his senior season. As it turns out, however, he won't be returning as a safety. Joyner will move to cornerback for 2013, where his size becomes less of a question and he can take a crack at making a bigger impression on NFL scouts. Still, Fisher expects Joyner to be something of a jack of all trades in the secondary, playing some nickel and safety along the way, too.

(Read full post)

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 position by position looking at Florida State's strengths and weaknesses as the Seminoles prepare for the start of spring practice.

Previous entries can be found here.

Next up: Offensive Line

2012 recap: If success is determined as a matter of perspective, then 2012 was a tremendous accomplishment for the Florida State offensive line. It's not that the unit was dominant -- though at times, it was exceptional -- but rather that it came so far from the unmitigated disaster of 2011. Only center Bryan Stork was a holdover from the previous season's regular starters, while guards Tre Jackson and Josue Matias built on the foundation they laid in the 2011 bowl game. But it was the arrival of right tackle Menelik Watson and left tackle Cameron Erving that made the biggest impact. Overall, the line helped FSU to nearly double its rushing total from the previous season while trimming the number of sacks allowed from an ACC-worst 40 to a much more respectable 26.

(Read full post)

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.

[+] EnlargeMario Edwards Jr.
Bob Donnan/US PresswireMario Edwards Jr. is still raw, but he has proven to be one of the best defensive ends in the nation.
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: Defensive Ends

2012 recap: Once again, Florida State's defense was among the best in the country, and once again the success started with the pass-rushers up front. Even after Brandon Jenkins went down in the opener with a foot injury, FSU's dynamic pass rush exceeded expectations, with Cornellius Carradine stepping up to provide 80 tackles and 11 sacks before a season-ending injury of his own, while Bjoern Werner established himself as one of the country's best players, recording 13 sacks, 18 TFLs and 8 pass breakups. Mario Edwards Jr. came on late to showcase his skill set, too, finishing with 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks despite limited playing time.

Departures: Few teams in the nation will lose more talent at one position that FSU does at defensive end. Had injuries not sidetracked Carradine and Jenkins -- hurting their draft prospects in the process -- it's possible the Seminoles would've produced three first-round picks just from the defensive end spot alone. As it is, Werner could be the school's highest drafted player in history. Werner, Jenkins and Carradine combined for 25 sacks in 2012 and 62.5 in their careers.

Arrivals: The Seminoles lost virtually all their experienced defensive ends, but they'll bring in a fresh crop of talent for 2013. Chris Casher played in just one game last season before an injury ended his season, but his combination of size and speed make him a dangerous weapon. Demarcus Walker was one of FSU's top recruits, and he's enrolled early this spring. Fellow freshman Davarez Bryant and juco transfer Desmond Hollin will also compete for playing time.

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2013 Spring Preview: Linebackers

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
9:00
AM ET
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

(Read full post)

2013 spring preview: Special teams

February, 15, 2013
2/15/13
9:30
AM ET
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 the 2013 season.

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 spring practice.

Previously: Cornerbacks, wide receivers/tight ends, defensive tackles, and running backs can be found HERE.

Next up: Special teams

2012 recap: Special teams is a pretty broad term, so it's tough to look back on last season and call it a success or a failure for Florida State when, the truth is, it was a little of both. On the plus side, kicker Dustin Hopkins turned in the best season of his remarkable career, setting the NCAA scoring mark for kickers in the process. Lamarcus Joyner and Karlos Williams both were exceptional on kick returns once again, and FSU even accounted for three punt-return touchdowns in its first season without Greg Reid. Of course, the flip side of that was the significant struggles by freshman punter Cason Beatty, including a block against NC State that likely cost FSU the game, a bevy of turnovers on punt returns that resulted in a revolving door at the position, and a truly ridiculous number of special teams penalties (with Williams responsible for a season's worth by himself).

(Read full post)

2013 Spring Preview: Running Backs

February, 15, 2013
2/15/13
9:00
AM ET
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.

Previously: Cornerback, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends, Defensive Tackles

[+] EnlargeJames Wilder Jr.
Jeremy Brevard/US PresswireCan talented RB James Wilder Jr. make the leap to superstardom in 2013?
Next up: Running backs

2012 recap: It's tough to overstate how much Florida State's ground game improved from 2011, with the Seminoles nearly doubling their total rushing yards and finishing the season with five players who averaged better than 5 yards per carry. Overall, Florida State finished fourth nationally, averaging 5.62 yards per rush. Chris Thompson was well on his way to becoming the first FSU runner to top 1,000 yards since 1996, but his season ended in Week 9 with a torn ACL. James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman teamed up to handle the job the rest of the way -- usually successfully -- and figure to do the same again in 2013.

Departures: Thompson toyed with the idea of appealing the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility after his Week 9 injury, but he eventually abandoned that plan and is focused on rehabbing his knee and making a go of it in the NFL. His loss is big, but Freeman and Wilder proved to be able substitutes. At fullback, things aren't quite so clear cut. Lonnie Pryor departs after four seasons as a starter, and there's no obvious replacement waiting in the wings.

Arrivals: FSU figures to finally get its first look at Mario Pender, who redshirted in 2012 after undergoing groin surgery at the start of fall practice. Pender's rehab went smoothly, but he still won't be a regular practice participant until spring workouts get going. Meanwhile, FSU added another dynamic weapon to its backfield on national signing day with four-star athlete Ryan Green. Like Thompson, Green is a home-run threat with great speed. In what should be something of an unsettled backfield, he could see action immediately.

Biggest question mark: There are no questions about Wilder's ability, but it's still unclear whether he'll ever blossom as a superstar runner. Wilder had a productive 2012 season, rushing for 652 yards and 11 touchdowns, but even after Thompson's injury, he didn't emerge as an every down back. Wilder's size and strength make him a weapon, particularly in short-yardage situations, but his affinity for contact also means the bumps and bruises can accumulate over the course of the season. Add a myriad of off-field issues, and the question marks continue to pile up. The most likely scenario for 2013 is that Wilder again splits time with Freeman as co-starters, but there's also the chance that Wilder blossoms into a star -- and maybe even managed to put an end to that ongoing drought of 1,000-yard backs.

Breakout star: The backfield is probably a bit too crowded for any one runner to become a superstar, but Wilder may be the best bet to make the leap. Of course, Freeman has had two straight solid seasons and won't have to worry about taking a backseat to Thompson this time around, while Pender and Green certainly possess the talent to take the job and run with it, too. In other words, there's a ton of talent, but just one football to go around.

Projected 2013 starter: Freeman and Wilder
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.

Previously: Cornerback, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Next up: Defensive Tackles

[+] EnlargeMike Gillislee, Demonte McAllister, Christian Jones, Timmy Jernigan
Kevin Liles/US PresswireDemonte McAllister (97) took a step forward in his junior season.
2012 recap: Florida State's defensive line was as hyped as any unit in the country entering the season, and the veteran group did little to disappoint, despite a heavy dose of injuries. While the ends took top billing, it was once again the run stuffers up the middle that set the tone. Seniors Everett Dawkins and Anthony McCloud turned in their usual quiet-but-productive seasons, while Timmy Jernigan proved his freshman campaign was no fluke, blossoming into one of the most dominant interior linemen in the country as a sophomore. Demonte McAllister took a step forward as a junior and Eddie Goldman, the highly touted freshman, played sparingly but effectively. Overall, the tackles helped Florida State finish third in rush defense nationally, the second straight year it finished in the top 3.

Departures: Stalwarts Dawkins and McCloud were never the most hyped guys on FSU's defense, but for the past two seasons, they were often the foundation of a unit that dominated opposing run games. Both departed at year's end as seniors, part of a massive overhaul on the D line that will see the Seminoles replace all four of their starters. Still, there's a wealth of talent -- as many as six potential impact players -- at the tackle position that should make for a relatively smooth transition.

Arrivals: Four-star commitment DeMarcus Walker (Sandalwood/Jacksonville, Fla.) is among FSU's most prized recruits from the class of 2013, while the Seminoles will also add a top recruit from the 2009 class when senior Jacobbi McDaniel finally returns from an ankle injury that kept him out for much of the past two seasons. Redshirt freshman Justin Shanks (6-2, 340) should be an intriguing addition to the lineup as well.

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2013 Spring Preview: WRs, TEs 

January, 22, 2013
1/22/13
9:00
AM ET
Florida StateRobert Mayer/US PresswireTight end Nick O'Leary will need to be more consistent 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.

Last week: Cornerback

Next up: Receivers and Tight Ends

2013 Spring Preview: Cornerbacks

January, 15, 2013
1/15/13
9:00
AM ET
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.

First up: Cornerback

[+] EnlargeRonald Darby
Geoff Burke/Getty ImagesCornerback Ronald Darby stepped in and became a big contributor as a freshman.
2012 recap: Last season began with a seemingly huge setback when three-year starter Greg Reid was dismissed from the program just before the start of fall camp. As it turned out, however, FSU had plenty of in-house answers. Freshman Ronald Darby and sophomore Nick Waisome stepped in to more than adequately fill the void, and FSU's pass defense finished as one of the best units in the country.

Departures: It seemed a foregone conclusion long before the season ended, and as expected, junior Xavier Rhodes opted to pass on a fifth year in Tallahassee and will head to the NFL draft. It's a big loss, as Rhodes had blossomed into one of the best cover corners in the nation, and 2012 might have been his best season as a Seminole.

Arrivals: Redshirt freshman Colin Blake will get his first taste of action. FSU has two four-star commitments at the position in Marquez White (Dothan, Ala./Northview) and Michael Johnson (Miami/Booker T. Washington). White is the 17th-ranked corner in the nation, according to ESPN.

Biggest question mark: Replacing Rhodes is obviously the top priority, but with the impressive 2012 campaigns from both Darby and Waisome, the answers appear fairly obvious. What might be a more intriguing question is who steps in as the third man in the cornerback rotation -- a list that could include more work from nickel Tyler Hunter, early playing time for the youngsters or, perhaps most likely, an expanded role for rising sophomore Keelin Smith.

Breakout star: Darby seems the logical choice. He never quite overtook Waisome for the starting job in 2012, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Darby finished the season having appeared in all 14 games, making 22 tackles and recording eight pass breakups and one forced fumble en route to being named a freshman All-American. He's perhaps not quite as physical as Rhodes, but his speed is elite and he has the potential to quickly develop into one of the marquee defensive backs in the conference.

Projected 2013 starters: Darby and Waisome, with Hunter as the top nickel option.

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