Season in Review: Running Backs

Florida State finished 9-4 in the regular season after a loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC title game. NoleDigest takes a look the RB position for the season and a brief look to the future.

The Players

Chris Thompson: 108-699(6.5). 5 TD

Ty Jones: 83-520(6.3). 5 TD

Jermaine Thomas: 85-484(5.7). 6 TD

Lonnie Pryor: 21-102(4.9). 4 TD

Debrale Smiley: 5-28

The Season

Up until the point that Thomas went down with an injury, Florida State had been distributing the ball quite evenly amongst the top three RBs. Thompson took over as the feature back down the stretch and he has set himself up as the favorite for the starting role next year. His quickness and speed allow him to be a big play waiting to happen. His size limits his overall carries, but Thompson should see 8-15 touches a game.

Thompson flashed some big play ability in 2010
Steve Chase,

Jones is very effective when healthy, his ability to run inside and break arm tackles are coveted by Coach Eddie Gran. He seems to get dinged up a bunch and has other health issues at play. Jones has consistently shown the ability to make plays over his career, but it has been a little spotty due to his health.

Thomas's injury was not as bad as initially thought, but he still missed the last several games. He is another back that is probably best used as a change of pace, complementary piece. He had NFL aspirations heading into the season, but those are likely on hold based on the overall year he had. He is going to need to beat out Thompson for carries next year.

Pryor got his carries from the FB position. He is a natural RB, but has slid to FB because he is such a high character individual and is all about the team. He could flourish in a role similar to Jones this year. His playing weight at RB would probably be in the 210 range. Due to his role he has added more weight than that. If he wants that role to change, he will need to make his case in the Spring.

Smiley did not get much opportunity this year. Spring is huge for him as he needs to establish himself before the freshmen arrive on campus.

The Future

FSU could easily go next year with what we saw this year: Thompson, Jones, and Thomas getting carries with Pryor(and perhaps Smiley) at FB. All of those players return. However, there is very likely to be stiff competition in Fall camp because of the infusion of talented freshmen.

James Wilder is a unique RB. At 6'2, 230 he is going to arrive with the best size of any back. He is an elite athlete and it is hard to find someone who runs harder. At the very least he should be used in some short yardage situations as a freshmen and the upside is that he can walk in and run over college defenders too. Wilder is football savvy so he should adapt to the offense relatively quickly.

It is not just Wilder who is on his way, Miami Central's Devonta Freeman is also expected to sign with the Noles. He is the complete package of quality size, speed, and toughness. Freeman is an every down back whose time will come. Will it be as a freshmen? We would bet against it, but it is certainly possible given his athletic gifts.

First Coast's Eric Beverly is also expected to sign with FSU. He is a likely redshirt candidate, but could see immediate time on special teams. His junior season, pre-injury, was very, very good and he made a quick recovery from the knee injury. Beverly has the potential to surprise down the road.

The bottom line is that the 2011 season should see FSU with as much depth as we have had in a long time. No fewer than 5-6 players will be capable of contributing. It should be as much competition as there is on the team and is a nice mix of players who all bring different skill-sets to the table.

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