August 1, 2011 - by
Fall Camp Preview: QBs and DEs

Aug. 1, 2011

Brandon Mellor
Brandon Mellor Senior Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The start of the 2011 college football season still may be 33 days away for Florida State but the on-field preparations officially begin one week from today with the start of fall camp.

Starting today and concluding on Friday, will provide a camp preview highlighting two different positions (one offense and defense) per day. We start today with the quarterbacks and defensive ends.

The FSU football schedule poster is emblazoned with the term “NOW” in big, luminescent letters. It’s a slogan that not only signifies the Seminoles’ goal of making this current season one to remember but it also has a not-so-subtle tie-in to the ‘Noles’ new starter at quarterback.

With Christian Ponder now a member of the Minnesota Vikings, EJ Manuel is finally in the position he was destined to maintain the moment he stepped foot on campus back in the summer of 2008. The team is now his.

Manuel benefits tremendously from the fact that he has played in and won some big games for the Seminoles over the past two seasons as an injury replacement for Ponder. Now he has the chance to combine those experiences with the mindset of being “the guy” on the practice fields leading up to first game on Sept. 3.

While Manuel is etched in stone atop the depth chart, there are some real questions behind him.

In the unfortunate event that Manuel were to be injured, who would come on in relief the same way that he did for Ponder?

Redshirt freshman Clint Trickett and redshirt sophomore Will Secord will have one of the most interesting non-starter position battles during camp. Secord has an extra year of film-watching and clipboard-holding but Trickett capped off his first spring this past April with 137 yards passing in the Garnet & Gold Game.

Not to be forgotten in the backup quarterback battle is Jacob Coker.

The freshman from Alabama flew under the radar as a recruit until the latter half of the recruiting cycle because of the run-first offense he played in prior to his senior year at St. Paul’s High School in Mobile.

At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Coker already is the second-biggest quarterback on the roster behind Manuel. He passes the eyeball test, but how much that will factor into his ascension up the depth chart remains to be seen.

Ideally, Coker will push both Secord and Trickett enough that one of those two fully captures second-string duties and he in turn would then take a redshirt like his three position mates did at the start of their respective FSU careers.

Just like Manuel is entrenched as the starter at quarterback, Brandon Jenkins is in the same position at defensive end for the Florida State defense.

As a first-time starter at defensive end last year, Jenkins locked down the right side as he became one of the most feared pass rushers in the nation. He enters camp as the unquestioned starter and it will be on Dan Hicks to continue to push Jenkins in to the same breath as some of the other top players at any position in the country.

Hicks is an interesting prospect. Even though he may not earn a starting job as long as Jenkins is swim-moving his way past left tackles, he still could continue to develop into a very strong backup. A converted high school tight end, Hicks can use fall camp to show the coaches that he can form a strong one-two rotation with Jenkins on the right side.

On the left side, sophomore defensive end Bjoern Werner had one of the best spring practice periods of anyone on the roster as he earned defensive MVP honors.

Werner replaces Markus White opposite Jenkins and brings a different style of play than both of those speed rushers. Werner is known more for his power and prowess and against the run. He will need to use those skills and build off his impressive spring because Cornellius Carradine has the size and skill-set to make the fight for starting duties at left defensive end an interesting one.

The battle for that job may be one of the most interesting storylines of camp. Werner is still relatively new to the game of football and therefore hasn’t even scratched the surface of his ability. Carradine was one of the top junior-college players in the country last year and knows how to get into his opponent’s backfield.

Keep an eye on those two.

Redshirt junior Toshmon Stevens and true freshman Giorgio Newberry also could figure into the rotation as well — depending on their performances in August. Stevens has struggled — through no fault of his own — in putting on weight during his time at FSU and that has kept him off the field and out of the trenches. Newberry was a highly-touted recruit out of Ft. Pierce, Fla. that boasts game-ready size at 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds.

Be sure to check back on Tuesday for a write-up on the running backs and defensive tackles. Once camp gets started on Monday, Aug. 8, should be the first website all FSU fans access each day. We will have written features, video interviews, head coach Jimbo Fisher and player quotes, pictures of all the veterans and newcomers and so much more through fall camp and leading into the 2011 regular season.

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