Aug. 5, 2011
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The final entry in our week-long feature previewing football’s fall camp is all about the tight ends and the safeties at Florida State.
Starting next week, fall camp officially gets started on Monday, Aug. 8 and Seminoles.com should be the first website all FSU fans access each day. We will have written features and insider infomation, video interviews, head coach Jimbo Fisher and player quotes, pictures of all the veterans and newcomers and so much more through August and leading into the 2011 regular season.
FSU has a longstanding history of producing some of college football’s best players at a variety of different positions. Tight end hasn’t typically been one of them.
That’s not to say that the Seminoles haven’t boasted some talented guys at the position. Guys like Melvin Pearsall, Lonnie Johnson and Part Carter were quite talented during their time and more recently Caz Piurowski looked good before an injury ended his collegiate career.
There’s no question, though, that FSU has been in need of some playmakers at the position to round out the offense.
Thanks to some recruiting success the past two years and increased competition at the position, it appears as though help may be on the way.
The Seminoles open camp on Monday with two capable seniors atop the depth chart in Beau Reliford and Ja’Baris Little. Reliford is making his return after missing spring practice while focusing on school work and Little — as he has been since he arrived on campus — is a consistent contributor.
While these two student-athletes will likely hold the top two spots throughout camp and into the 2011 season, a group of highly-regarded freshmen have given FSU offensive coordinator/tight ends coach James Coley an arsenal of weapons to choose from.
True freshman Nick O’Leary is the most hyped of all the young players on the depth chart. The grandson of legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, O’Leary was considered the nation’s premier tight end prospect coming out of high school earlier this year. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds with impressive route-running and hands, O’Leary has the chance to push for immediate playing time.
He isn’t a true freshman but Will Tye is still a newbie. Head coach Jimbo Fisher began raving about Tye last year while he was redshirting and mentioned his athleticism and size as traits that will cause problems for linebackers charged with guarding him one-on-one each Saturday. Tye is currently third on the depth chart behind Reliford and Little.
He isn’t talked about much but 6-foot-6, 252-pound Tank Sessions is a redshirt freshman that missed time in the spring due to injury. Like Tye, Sessions’ frame could make for a big target for FSU quarterback EJ Manuel.
With Reliford the likely choice for one tight-end sets to start the year, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think that the Seminoles could utilize some two tight-end looks because of the depth and potential of the unit as a whole. Fall camp will be especially interesting as each of the youngsters aims for playing time and the two veterans focus in on fending them off.
Competition breeds success and that in turn result in a new batch of FSU tight ends that make a name for themselves not only in Tallahassee but on the conference and national level as well.
Of all the positions on FSU’s 2011 football roster, safety should be the most entertaining to watch during fall camp.
The ripple effect is still being felt after it was announced during the spring that Lamarcus Joyner would be switching from cornerback — the position he played at as a freshman last year — to safety. The move wasn’t all that surprising since Joyner excelled there as a high school phenom but the real surprise came when the depth chart for fall camp was then released in June.
After taking reps at strong safety during the spring, Joyner had done enough in defensive coordinator Mark Stoops eyes to warrant being listed in the No. 1 spot. In turn, that pushed last year’s starter at the position, Terrance Parks, into a heated battle with Nick Moody.
Both Moody and Parks had controlled the defensive backfield as the two safeties last year and helped lead a Seminoles’ resurgence in the secondary. But late in the season the ‘Noles seemingly became more and more susceptible to big pass plays. The coaches are hoping that trend will cease now that the ballhawking Joyner has joined the fold and the competition between veterans Moody and Parks has heated up.
Another interesting subplot that will follow the safeties throughout August is the acclimation process for all-word freshman Karlos Williams.
Williams was the nation’s top-rated safety in the 2011 class and boasts credentials that in turn bring increased expectations. Williams will be expected to make noise on the depth chart as soon as Monday rolls around. Depending on which safety spot he lines up at first, an interesting battle between him and Joyner and Moody and Parks could result in some fun fall-camp drama.
Not to be forgotten, FSU also boasts some depth at safety thanks to players like Gerald Demps, Justin Bright and Terrance Brooks. Incoming freshmen Keelin Smith and Lamarcus Brutus will likely work at both safety and cornerback and could figure into the rotation also.