May 25, 2010
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As the first editions of the preseason college football magazines begin to hit the newsstands and arrive electronically at your fingertips, it’s clear that Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State program has some early traction with the national media.
Of course, that’s not an entirely new development. The Seminoles have spent the large part of the past quarter-century among the nation’s elite, which virtually reserved them a place among the programs that would receive ample preseason recognition.
Still, for those who feared FSU’s “popularity stock” would crash on the heels of a third 7-6 finish over the last four years and legendary coach Bobby Bowden’s departure, rest easy. The arrow – or in this case, the iconic spear – appears to be pointing forward just as it is on the gold helmets.
Athlon magazine provided an anxiously excited fan base with a boost recently when it tabbed Fisher’s inaugural team with a No. 13 preseason national ranking. The Nashville-based publication has the Seminoles winning the ACC’s Atlantic Division, thanks in large part to its cast of returning offensive standouts.
Offensive guard Rodney Hudson – a consensus preseason All-American to this point – leads the charge, along with punt return extraordinaire Greg Reid. Each earned first-team All-American honors from Athlon and were joined on the magazine’s first-team All-ACC squad by quarterback Christian Ponder and offensive tackle Andrew Datko. Receiver Bert Reed, center Ryan McMahon and linebacker Nigel Bradham were second-team selections, while guard David Spurlock, defensive end Markus White, running back Chris Thompson and Reid at cornerback were third-team choice.
Athlon’s national unit rankings place the Seminoles’ offensive line No. 2 nationally and the quarterbacks unit at No. 8. Both were tops in the ACC. And the preseason accolades don’t stop there.
Phil Steele’s College Football Preview also lauded Hudson with first-team All-American honors, while Reid checked in as a third-team punt return specialist. They were joined on the All-ACC first unit by Ponder, while McMahon, defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel and linebacker Kendall Smith were second-team choices. Reed, Datko and Bradham (third-team All-ACC) were recognized along with tailback Jermaine Thomas and cornerback Reid (fourth-team) as well by Phil Steele’s.
ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach had the Seminoles at No. 21 nationally coming out of spring practice, while SI.com’s Andy Staples positioned FSU at No. 22, one spot in front of where nationalchamps.net has the Garnet & Gold positioned. The ‘Noles narrowly missed the cut with Lindy’s, checking in at No. 26, however, the magazine does recognize Hudson as a first-team All-American.
While the bulk of the preseason “watch lists” for individual awards won’t be released until mid-summer, a few Seminoles have already been recognized. Hudson is making a second consecutive appearance on the watch list for the Lombardi Award, which is presented to the nation’s top down lineman. McMahon has made his third consecutive appearance on the watch list for the Rimington Award, which is presented to the nation’s top center.
Of course, the Downtown Athletic Club does not provide a “watch list” for the Heisman Trophy, but Ponder has already been recognized as a potential candidate for the prestigious award by a number of national media members. A finalist for the Wuerffel Award and semifinalist for the Maxwell and Manning Awards last season, Ponder will likely be a candidate for those honors again, and be included on the Davey O’Brien and Unitas Award lists as well.