March 22, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Cameron Erving got his first taste of college football action last year as a reserve defensive tackle.
This year, he may get his first taste of being a starter as an offensive linemen.
Erving put on shoulder pads as a left tackle or the first time in his career Thursday after two impressive days on the practice fields in a t-shirt and shorts at his new position — a place that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher approached him about switching to in 2011 and then again this year.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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“I felt like I had something to prove last year so I think that’s the reason I didn’t do it,” said Erving, who played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman last year and finished with 20 tackles. “Now, I have proven it and I feel like it’s just a business decision now and I’m going to have fun playing football.
“I just also want to help my team so anyway I can help my team is making me happy, along with the coaches and the other players.”
Erving is having fun while working at left tackle with junior-college transfer Daniel Glauser as the only two scholarship players in that particular position battle, following the graduations of Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders.
Through the first two practices of the spring, Erving has lined up with the first team — a depth-chart position that may signify it’s his job to lose. The 6-foot-5, 304-pounder doesn’t see it that way, though.
“I don’t see myself as a starter,” Erving said. “I see myself as somebody going against the starters on defense.”
Unlike his teammate Dan Hicks, whose switch from defensive end to tight end is helped by the fact that he played offense in high school, and Nick Moody’s switch from safety to linebacker is helped by his experience lining up in the box as a defensive secondary player, Erving has no prior experience at his new position.
An unheralded but underrated defensive-line prospect in South Georgia as a senior, Erving never played on the offensive line during his high school career.
Despite that inexperience, offensive line coach Rick Trickett’s new prospect has shown early signs of his tremendous upside and potential.
“Went through two practices already I have seen so much improvement,” senior defensive end Cornellius Carradine said. “He’s playing like he’s been playing for four years.”
Erving’s adaptation to a new position has been helped by his experience on the other side of the line of scrimmage. “I feel like playing defense on the collegiate level gives me a kind of edge just because you know how defensive linemen think,” he said. “You know how they react as an offensive linemen.”
His athleticism, size and wingspan have also been contributing factors — as has his football I.Q. and understanding of very important differences in hand placement and motion.
“On defense as soon as you would come off the ball you’re shooting your hands straight up,” Erving said, “instead of on offense you are taking your steps and you put your hands in your holsters and shoot from your hips to the person. You’ve got to keep your arms tight instead of fully extending on defense.”
While Erving still has a long way to go in his development, his position change has already accomplished one goal of establishing depth along a line that lacked much of that during an injury-plagued 2011 season. “Boy, how athletic and big he is out there,” Fisher said. “That’s a huge lift.”
By providing that depth and evolving into a left tackle that could conceivably start the next three seasons for FSU, Erving could find himself in a lucrative position come NFL draft time — a possibility that the ‘Noles coaches have made sure to remind him.
But the thought of professional millions in one of the most sought-after positions in the NFL isn’t what’s on Erving’s mind right now.
“Of course that factors in but that’s not what I am thinking about now,” he said. “I’m just taking this one day at a time like I said. I’m thinking about this spring and this fall camp and this next season and we have to see how this goes before I can think about any of that — regardless of what the coaches tell me about the money.
“It’s good to hear and it’s good to know that it can come in the future but I am trying to stay focused on what’s here right now.”