July 21, 2011
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — EJ Manuel has accomplished quite a bit as a backup quarterback over the course of his career at Florida State. But there is one particular thing that he hadn’t done as Christian Ponder’s understudy.
We released the current FSU depth chart late Wednesday afternoon and for the first time since he came to Tallahassee from Virginia Beach, Va., Manuel finds himself officially listed as the starter heading into fall camp.
He’s earned two bowl victories but the team is now undoubtedly his. He’s got the keys to the Seminole machine.
Of course seeing Manuel as the No. 1 quarterback is no surprise. He has been groomed for this moment since he stepped foot on campus. But what about the rest of the depth chart? Let’s take a look at the the offense today and then focus on the defense on Friday.
At running back, Chris Thompson is still reaping the rewards of a fantastic, big-play sophomore campaign despite the fact that he missed spring practice due to injury. He will be pushed by former starter Jermaine Thomas (who is now No. 3) and Ty Jones is a guy that over his three-year career has shown flashes of having some terrific talent.
Can Jones make a push for a starting spot? In order to do that he needs to develop more consistency. Devonta Freeman enrolled in January as a freshman and was quite impressive in his first action as a Seminole.
The fullback depth chart is interesting because of one name in particular: Chad Abram.
Abram came to FSU last season as a freshman safety and played on special teams in 2010. Obviously the Florida State coaches must see a little Lonnie Pryor in him (same build, roughly same size and good hands) to switch him to the offensive side.
The wide receiver cupboard is stocked with the likes of Bert Reed, Rodney Smith and Willie Haulstead. Expect Jarred Haggins, Greg Dent and Kenny Shaw — all of whom saw action as true freshman last season — to make waves on the depth chart.
Christian Green is a guy that is currently listed at No. 4 in one of the wide receiver spots. Green, who is a relative of former FSU wide receiver E.G. Green, drew comparisons to former Seminoles star Peter Warrick in high school. It’s not fair to make the same college comparisons yet but it’s often forgotten that, like Christian Green did in 2010, Warrick redshirted when he was a true freshman too.
The tight end depth chart looks like it did most of last season. Beau Reliford and Ja’Baris Little man the top two spots but Will Tye could generate some buzz on the practice fields. Coaches have raved about his athleticism and potential since he got to FSU and redshirted last year.
The start of fall camp also signifies the kick off of “Camp Trickett.” The reputation of hard-nosed offensive line coach Rick Trickett doesn’t need much explanation. His offensive linemen get after and get after it hard in August and only the strong survive.
All-America candidate Andrew Datko has the left side locked down and, according to the depth chart, David Spurlock is making the move to left guard from his right guard spot. Jacob Fahrenkrug drew some rave reviews from Trickett in the spring and all indications that his grasp of the starting center job is here to stay.
At right guard, the competition should be fierce between Bryan Stork and Henry Orelus. Both sophomores are considered up-and-coming stars in the trenches. Zebrie Sanders has the talent to lineup at both tackle spots.
As for the summer-enrollee freshmen offensive players that aren’t on the depth chart yet, quarterback Jacob Coker will be expected to push both Clint Trickett and Will Secord for backup duties. James Wilder has four talented tailbacks in front of him but could make a dent in the depth chart because of his college-ready size and ability.
New receiver Kelvin Benjamin could make a move, too. Like Wilder, Benjamin has incredible size. Rashad Greene’s got the speed to put himself in the playing-time discussion as well. Tight end Nick O’Leary has got all the credentials to push for immediate playing time. Can Reliford, Little and Tye hold him off? The same is true for an elite class of offensive linemen and the upperclassmen ahead of them.
Make no mistakes, the youngsters will play if they perform better than the returnees once camp gets under way.
Check back tomorrow for a breakdown of the depth chart on the defensive side of the ball.