TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – One game in Doak Campbell Stadium wasn’t enough for Ryan Roberts.
In the 10 months since he played in Tallahassee as a member of the Northern Illinois football team, Roberts has completed his engineering degree and moved south to join the Seminoles.
It seems to be a fortunate fit for both: Roberts is an offensive tackle looking to maximize his final year of collegiate eligibility, and the Seminoles are looking for an experienced veteran to help lead the team’s most scrutinized unit in its first year under position coach Randy Clements.
No wonder that Roberts has made a fast first impression in his first week of fall camp.
“It’s been amazing,” Roberts said. “I’ve loved the transition.”
Watch: Ryan Roberts interview, August 7
That’s apparent during FSU’s practices, during which Roberts has lined up almost exclusively as the Seminoles’ first-team right tackle.
Roberts is big (6-6, 300 pounds), he’s smart – as that engineering degree suggests – and he’s experienced, having made 10 starts over two seasons at NIU.
“He’s bringing a lot of maturity to our offensive line room,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “I think he’s been really good at just bringing guys along and bringing guys together. I’ve been really impressed, for a guy that just came in here, to get around his teammates and gain the respect from his teammates the way that he has.”
Taggart admitted that Roberts still has a way to go when it comes to learning Florida State’s offense and blocking schemes.
But the good news for Roberts is that he’s not too far behind his teammates – everyone is in their first year with Clements and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles.
And, even better, Roberts flashed the biggest grin of his Q-and-A session with reporters when asked about the learning a new offense.
“It’s an amazing challenge,” Roberts said. “What else would you want? Anything different, anything new is just perfect to me. You want to be challenged, you want to see, test your limits.”
Roberts is pushing his teammates to do the same, too.
Based on combinations in practice, the Seminoles might have four new full-time starters up front, and, although he’s among the newest members of the offensive line room, he’s also among the most experienced.
So Roberts’ new teammates have had no trouble welcoming him into the fold and heeding any advice he might offer.
“He’s a very good leader,” guard Brady Scott said. “We all listen to Ryan when he talks. … He’s kind of quiet elsewhere, but out on the field he’s very enthusiastic and we like seeing it.”
Added center Baveon Johnson: “I found out day one, Ryan is one of the smartest linemen I’ve been around. I’m glad we have him as an addition to the offensive line.”
Offense finding groove: After spending the first few days of camp often in neutral, the Seminoles’ offense is showing signs of life.
First, FSU’s running game broke through for a handful of chunk plays during Tuesday’s practice, including Khalan Laborn’s long touchdown late in the session. Then, on Wednesday, both James Blackman and Alex Hornibrook led extended scoring drives, during which they relied just as much on steady, measured gains as they did big plays.
There were a few big ones – Ontaria Wilson’s long, weaving catch and run might have been the day’s offensive highlight – but it was just as encouraging to see the Seminoles string together a few gains of four, five or six yards. And Taggart raised his hands in celebration when the first-team offense punched in a touchdown after two attempts near the goal line.
Ricky brings it home: “Field goal to win” is a drill that’s exactly as it sounds. At the end of practice, one of FSU’s placekickers lines up, surrounded by teammates and coaches, and attempts a pressure-filled field goal. Make it, and practice is over and everyone goes home happy. Miss? Well, the Seminoles fortunately haven’t yet had to find out what happens with a miss. A few days ago, freshman Ryan Fitzgerald connected on a long field goal attempt in his first try. And Aguayo followed up on Wednesday with a successful attempt of his own from 47 yards out. Both Aguayo and Fitzgerald have had strong starts to camp, with each consistently making his field goals during special teams drills.
Schedule shift: FSU on Thursday will have its first off day of fall camp, then return to the practice fields on Friday afternoon for the first of three consecutive post-lunch practices. The Seminoles will be off on Monday, when they’ll travel south to Bradenton for three morning practice sessions at IMG Academy.
Extra highlights: Janarius Robinson showed a very nice burst coming off the edge from his outside linebacker position. He posted a quick tackle for loss early in team drills, prompting a loud cheer of “Jay-Roooooob” from the defensive sideline. … It’s still good to see receivers, especially young ones, check their pre-snap alignment with sideline officials. Jordan Young did just that during one play, first coordinating with the fellow receiver to his right and then making sure the official was satisfied. … Nice work by Camren McDonald to go over the middle, extend his body to make a tough catch and then hang on to the ball after absorbing a heavy shot from a patrolling safety. McDonald, a sophomore tight end, has added more than 20 pounds of strength since last year.