TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 1 Florida State donned shoulder pads for the first time in its third practice of fall camp on Wednesday at the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility.
The Seminoles are still getting acclimated to practice, but head coach Jimbo Fisher continues to be impressed with the competitiveness of his team coming off an undefeated national championship season in 2013.
“It was more real football (today),” Fisher said. “It was their first day out here in pads and it will get better. I saw a lot of good things. A lot of banging and clanging and guys just being physical.”
Florida State returns 15 starters this season, but must replace a pair of all-conference receivers in Kenny Shaw and first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin. Fifth-year seniors Jarred Haggins and Christian Green have the most experience and are expected to compete with a group of sophomore and freshmen receivers for the spots opposite senior Rashad Greene, the Noles’ leading receiver the past three years.
Fisher said consistency is what will separate the receivers battling for playing time.
“Guys knowing what to do and where to be and making plays,” Fisher said. “Also being at the right spot at the right time with the quarterback and knowing what they want. I have been pleased with both the younger and older receivers.”
Greene, Haggins and Green have also taken time to mentor the younger receivers, while Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston has taken it upon himself to show the ropes to freshman quarterback J.J. Cosentino.
The group that has stood out the most early in camp without a doubt has been the defensive backs. The unit returns three starters from the nation’s top-rated pass defense (156.6 yards allowed per game) a year ago. Junior cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby are both All-America candidates, while sophomore Jalen Ramsey already has experience starting at safety and cornerback. It’s a unit that can do it all.
“There is a lot of versatility and a lot of guys playing different positions,” Fisher said. “They can cover. They can play the deep ball, play the underneath stuff. Play the little guys and the big guys. Which is rare. These guys have been doing a very nice job and I’ve been very pleased with the secondary.”
The Seminoles return to the practice field in shoulder pads again on Thursday before donning full pads for the first time on Friday.
Florida State opens the the season on Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. (ABC) against Oklahoma State at the AdvoCare Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas.
Florida State Post-Practice Quotes
Head Coach Jimbo Fisher
“A good hot day. I liked the tempo of practice. I think the practices are being very, very competitive. And I tell you what, I see a lot of these young guys learning as well as any group we’ve had as far as all positions. Defensive linemen, receivers, backs – all those kids are doing a really nice job of learning what to do. I am really pleased because we are throwing a lot at them early. The veterans are stepping up, too, and doing a good job. I liked the competition. We ran it and they stopped it, the offense and defense went back and forth and was very competitive. I liked what I saw.”
On if the incoming players are told to do anything specific to prepare for camp:
“You get them the information as quick as you are legally allowed to get it to them with the playbooks and videos and those things. Then we got them here and the upperclassmen are taking them under their wing and really showing them. Also their willingness and maturity level. That’s what I’ve been very pleased with.”
On what he wants to see to separate the receivers:
“Consistency. Guys knowing what to do and where to be and making plays. Also being at the right spot at the right time with the quarterback and knowing what they want. I have been pleased with both the younger and older receivers.”
On having TE Nick O’Leary out there:
“Nick is doing a really nice job. (Jeremy) Kerr and those two freshmen tight ends are really catching my eye. I really like them.”
On QB JJ Cosentino sticking close to Jameis Winston and who initiated that:
“I hope that is common sense. I think that is just him knowing that he’s the best in the business and I want to do what he does and study like he studies. I tell you what, JJ has really good arm talent. I have been very pleased with his ability.”
On the defensive backs:
“There is a lot of versatility and a lot of guys playing different positions. They can cover. They can play the deep ball, play the underneath stuff. Play the little guys and the big guys. Which is rare. Some guys have a harder time with the little quick guys and can only play big guys. These guys have been doing a very nice job and I’ve been very pleased with the secondary.”