TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher announced Wednesday that star running back Dalvin Cook had successful surgery on his right back shoulder. Cook’s recovery will sideline him for Saturday’s Garnet and Gold Game, but he is expected back for fall camp in August. “We cleaned up a little stuff in the back of his shoulder. He’ll be ready in a couple months and he’ll be good. He’ll be ready to go in June and July and train and do everything.”
While there’s never a great time to lose a Heisman candidate to injury, this is about as good as FSU could ask for. Cook will have plenty of time to heal this summer, and, without any games on the horizon, can make sure he’s 100-percent healthy before returning to action.
Fisher said the injury was “nothing drastic,” but the shoulder will need to be immobilized for a while.
Cook had a front-right shoulder injury repaired in 2014. The two injuries are not related.
Cook’s absence, meanwhile, opens the door for the rest of Florida State’s crowded backfield to show off its skills for the crowd in Orlando and get some extra work over the summer.
Here’s a look at FSU’s remaining running backs, and what they might bring to the table:
Jacques Patrick, SO, 6-2, 233 pounds
The presumed thunder to Cook’s lightning, Patrick was one of the few Seminoles to draw praise from coach Fisher after last week’s scrimmage.
Patrick has the requisite physical tools to be a force in short-yardage situations, and, after harping on his toughness for much of last season, Fisher said the former five-star prospect is starting to emerge.
“He took some runs, which I wanted to see him do, three- and four-yard runs and made them six- and seven-yard runs,” Fisher said. “He started running with the power and the size that he has and pushing the pile.”
Receiver Travis Rudolph was a little more succinct in his assessment:
“Jacques is out there laying that wood on a lot of linebackers and DBs. And not sparing no one,” Rudolph said. “You can definitely see he’s improving on his running skills as well.”
Patrick, an Orlando native, made the most of his limited opportunities a year ago, averaging 5.0 yards per carry and finding the end zone five times.
He’ll have a chance Saturday to show a hometown crowd what kind of strides he’s made this spring.
Ryan Green, SR; 5-11, 205 pounds
Back on offense after a brief stint as a cornerback, Green looks plenty comfortable with the ball in his hands.
In fact, thanks to a jersey number mix-up, reporters confused Green for fellow running back Mario Pender before a recent practice. Both players wear No. 7, and it’s not yet clear who will switch this fall.
Although he was away for a year, Green is hardly learning a new position. Despite missing most of his senior season with a shoulder injury, Green earned Under Armour All-America status as a running back at St. Petersburg Catholic. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior and also proved a capable receiver.
While not quite as speedy as Cook – few players are – Green is plenty fast enough, and he has similar size to the FSU starter. And, judging by a few open portions of practice this spring, Green hasn’t forgotten how to find a hole and burst through it.
“He is as explosive as anybody,” Fisher said. “That’s why we’re finding ways to get him the ball.”
As long as Cook is out, there will be more opportunities for Green to regain his form and potentially contribute this fall. That would be a welcome development for a player who, thanks to injuries and a crowded depth chart, has yet to make his mark at FSU.
Provided he’s available Saturday (Green missed a recent practice with an illness), he should have a chance to finally change that.
Mario Pender, RS SR; 5-10, 203 pounds
The biggest question marks surround Pender, who has yet to return from a collapsed lung and subsequent infection suffered early last season. Pender won’t participate in the spring game and his status going forward seems uncertain. But, when healthy, he can be a key part of FSU’s backfield.
Pender’s health, though, has dogged him for nearly his entire career. He had already missed a full season with a groin injury, was derailed by a variety of ailments in 2014 and had a hot start in 2015 fall by the wayside due to his lung issue.
Even still, Pender has averaged 4.85 yards per carry throughout his career and he would be a welcome addition this fall – regardless of Cook’s status.
Freddie Stevenson, SR; 6-1, 243 pounds
The senior fullback has mostly contributed as a blocker, but has occasionally shown himself to be a capable receiver out of the backfield. Stevenson caught nine passes for 64 yards last season, and his 35-yard touchdown reception helped FSU complete a dramatic comeback against Louisville in 2014.
Johnathan Vickers, JR; 6-1, 227 pounds
When Cook and Pender both went down with injuries a year ago, it was Vickers who stepped in to handle the load. He carried a career-high 10 times for 33 yards at Wake Forest, and scored a touchdown that helped preserve a 24-16 win.