TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State football team is entering the heart of spring practice as the Seminoles again donned full pads on Thursday afternoon at the Albert J. Dunlap Practice Facility.
Florida State is looking to replace the enormous production of All-American running back Dalvin Cook, who amassed 5,402 total yards and 48 touchdowns in his record-breaking career. The Seminoles return a stable of backs in redshirt senior Ryan Green, redshirt junior Johnathan Vickers, junior Jacques Patrick and sophomore Amir Rasul, and have added early enrollee Cam Akers to the mix this spring.
“For the most part they have been doing a pretty good job,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said of the running backs. “They’re learning, but it’s been pretty good. They flashed and it’s a good segment (group).”
Among the players tasked with shouldering the load are Patrick and Rasul, who are using time spent in the program and on the field to their advantage this spring.
Patrick is the Noles’ leading returning rusher, totaling 665 yards and nine touchdowns over 22 career games.
“He’s getting better, learning to be more consistent,” Fisher said. “Growing up a little bit and doing a little better.”
Rasul played in seven games in 2016, contributing on special teams while also rushing for 46 yards on six carries before an injury knocked him out for the season.
“I’ve been very pleased with him. He’s coming on really well,” Fisher said of Rasul. “He’s getting every rep; we just don’t get him thumped. He makes some moves, they’re there to hit him, and he does everything to keep him out of that hard contact. I’ve been very pleased with him. That guy is 212 pounds. He is the same size Cam (Akers) is, Cam is 213, and he is 212. He is not a little guy. He’s a big guy that can run with power and run with speed.”
In special teams work on Thursday, Akers was among the players taking turns fielding kickoffs, an ability that Fisher says comes naturally to the Clinton, Miss. native.
“He’s a very natural returner,” Fisher said. “Catches the ball, tremendous ball skills, just really good ball skills. Judges it really well. You can catch underneath, but doesn’t mean you can catch a punt. Just like how guys who can field ground balls can’t catch fly balls. That’s like being an outfielder and judging those things, he does a really good job of it.”
Former Seminoles in Attendance
Several former Seminole standouts were in attendance on Thursday as Travis Johnson, Bryant McFadden, and Mario Edwards, Jr. were on hand to view the team practice. Johnson was the 16th overall selection by the Houston Texans in the 2005 NFL Draft, McFadden was a second round (62nd overall) of the Pittsburgh Steelers that same year, and Edwards, Jr. was selected 35th overall in the 2015 draft by the Oakland Raiders and was a member of the 2013 national championship team.
“It’s great to have them back,” Fisher said. “Let them see (our players) and these (current players) have the responsibility of carrying the tradition to live up to. Let those guys be a part and see how these young guys are.”
Scrimmage set for Monday
The Seminoles will practice on Saturday before holding the first scrimmage of the spring on Monday.