Jan. 25, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Last week we took a look at the losses on the defensive side of the ball and I shared my educated guesses as to how many defensive prospects may sign at each position come National Signing Day Feb. 6.
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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Today let’s go to the offensive side of the ball, which lost recently lost offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and ace recruiter James Coley to rival Miami. His replacement has not yet been named.
One thing is certain, it’s going to be strange not seeing No. 3 out there competing at quarterback once spring ball gets started in a few months. WIthout EJ Manuel, who was on the roster for each of the last five seasons, FSU turns its attention to what will be the most important storyline heading into the 2013 campaign: the quarterback battle.
Because the Seminoles still boast four quality signal callers even after the loss of Manuel, signing a quarterback this recruiting cycle is not a requirement. Conceivably, this group of four could remain intact for each of the next two seasons.
Next year, FSU will be in the market for a quarterback signature come early February. A signee this season would simply be a bonus.
There’s a significant hole in FSU’s backfield now that both Chris Thompson and Lonnie Pryor have graduated and that loss extends off the field as well. Thompson and Pyor were obviously talented as ball carriers but they were just as vital to FSU’s success for what they did as leaders for the younger players.
Without Thompson, FSU returns just Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr. as experienced players at the running back spot. The Seminoles are bolstered, however, by the addition of Mario Pender after the former four-star ‘back redshirted last year.
With just three scholarship tailbacks on the roster for the spring, signing at least one is critical for Florida State moving forward and inking two would probably be ideal as Freeman and Wilder are both upperclassmen.
At fullback, Chad Abram is the only returning player following the loss of Pryor and Debrale Smiley. Abram is a converted safety that saw limited action in his new position last year with the workhorse Pryor ahead of him on the depth chart.
The coaching staff has high hopes for Abram as a blocker and runner but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to sign another player for the position. Securing the signature of at least one more fullback is a requirement by the time this recruiting cycle is over for depth purposes and for the future.
It’s conceivable that if FSU signed two tailbacks this cycle, one of them could fill the much-needed fullback role.
Rodney Smith set a school record by catching at least one pass in 39 consecutive games but that streak effectively met its end when his eligibility expired at the conclusion of FSU’s victory in the Orange Bowl earlier this month. Smith is the only senior receiver from last year’s squad but redshirt junior Josh Gehres also won’t return for his final year of eligibly and will instead enroll in law school.
Despite his overall consistency, Smith’s loss doesn’t alter much of what FSU has done at the receiver position for the 2013 class. Instead, what has dictated the plan is the number of athletes at the position that are entering their final years as Greg Dent, Jarred Haggins, Kenny Shaw and Willie Haulstead are all now seniors.
With Rashad Greene, Christian Green, Kelvin Benjamin and Marvin Bracy also on the roster, FSU is still pretty deep on the outside but adding a few more prospects to that group is important with the losses that will be experienced by this time next year. Also, FSU rotates wide receivers more frequently than any other position so having a large group is important to what the Seminoles do offensively.
Adding at least three wide receivers on Feb. 6 seems likely to keep the cupboard stockpiled with talent.
Tight end is the lone offensive position that doesn’t lose a single player from the 2012 squad. In fact, the Seminoles are stronger right now than they were in the summer after freshman Christo Kourtzidis had enrolled thanks to the late addition of Penn State transfer Kevin Haplea.
The former Nittany Lion is back for his senior year and so is starter Nick O’Leary for his junior campaign. Redshirt junior Will Tye and Kourtzidis are also waiting in the wings vying for more playing time.
With four returning players — only one of which is entering his final year — the ‘Noles don’t have any pressing needs at tight end this signing day. Having said that, garnering at least one signee at the position helps the progression of the depth chart and adds more competition come fall camp in August and continues what has become a yearly tradition of bringing in at least one player at the position.
Florida State experienced tremendous growth — and as a result, improved play — last year on the offensive line.
Cameron Erving’s transition from defensive tackle to starting left tackle couldn’t have gone much better and sophomores Josue Matias and Tre’ Jackson became two of the better guards in the entire conference while Bryan Stork continued to man the middle at center.
FSU almost had its entire starting lineup up front return but Menelik Watson elected to enter the draft a year early. After starring at right tackle in his year with the program after playing basketball at Marist, Watson’s loss means that the Seminoles have a critical vacancy to address at one of the bookend spots. Watson’s 2012 season shows, too, that even new player (perhaps a 2013 signee) could factor in to the starting lineup if they earn it.
Bobby Hart, Ruben Carter, Henry Orelus, Sterling Lovelady, Austin Barron, Daniel Foose, Garrett Faircloth and Trey Pettis are the other returning players and only Hart, Barron, Orelus and Faircloth have any starting experience. The Seminoles also lost Daniel Glauser and Jacob Kahrenkrug to graduation.
Because there isn’t an abundance of depth at the position, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and offensive line coach Rick Trickett are probably looking for at least four prospects to sign their names when the big day rolls around in two weeks.
*Final numbers at each position will ultimately be decided by Fisher and his staff so these figures are not set in stone but rather educated guesses on what would help FSU fill its roster. To hear Fisher’s thoughts and the thoughts of his assistants on each of the signees be sure to get your tickets now to the Jimbo Fisher National Signing Day Party.
On signing day, make sure to check Seminoles.com frequently for confirmation of each signed National Letter of Intent as soon as each prospect is cleared by the FSU compliance staff, release of official biographies for the new ‘Noles, instant analysis on each signing, video highlights and much more.