July 14, 2011
It’s not very often that two athletic programs at Florida State lose a very good player on the exact same day but that is exactly what happened Thursday when Taiwan Easterling signed a professional baseball contract.
His decision to pursue baseball means that he left one year of eligibility with the football team on the table.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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Easterling may consider himself a baseball player first but his production on the football field won’t soon be forgotten. A would-be senior, Easterling never caught fewer than 30 passes in each of his three seasons on the gridiron and last year he registered 551 yards and five touchdowns — both career highs.
Through and through he was a producer.
But even though No. 8 will no longer be running precise routes and making incredible touchdown grabs like the one he made against Virginia Tech in 2008, FSU has the benefit of returning quite a few talented student-athletes at the wide receiver spot in 2011 and a few young guys that seem poised enough to take Easterling’s spot.
Everyone knows what Bert Reed can do and he will continue to be a playmaker and go-to guy in his final year. Rodney Smith and Willie Haulstead are both back for their junior seasons and each of those two budding superstars have steadily increased their production each season just like Easterling did.
The Seminoles also feature Kenny Shaw, Scooter Haggins and Greg Dent, who all played sparingly as true freshman but showed flashes of being special. Expect all three of those guys to make a big leap in their second seasons just like Haulstead and Smith did a year earlier.
And then there are the wild cards on the outside.
Christian Green came to FSU last season boasting some Peter Warrick-type comparisons and after redshirting as a true freshman, head coach Jimbo Fisher and the offensive staff appear ready to unleash him on opposing defenses.
Fellow freshmen Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Greene are both on campus and ready to go, too. Don’t expect either one to redshirt right away. Benjamin has NFL-ready size and Greene has world-class speed; it’s the best of both worlds.
Easterling will certainly be missed but thanks to some fantastic recruiting of some real homerun hitters at the wide receiver position by the FSU coaching staff, the future looks bright.
Just like Easterling’s baseball career.