Football Kickoff, Day 2: Updated 7:06 p.m.

NoleDigest.com is in Pinehurst, North Carolina, for the 2011 ACC Football Kickoff, meaning we're that much closer to Florida State QB E.J. Manuel and a loaded Seminoles team returning to action.

Fisher: 'The best players are going to play'

7:06 p.m. EDT

The Seminoles don't appear to have anything to worry about in the backfield, as the three-headed monster of Chris Thompson, Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas returns after each averaged 5.7 yards per carry or better last year.

However, Florida State fans are incredibly excited about a pair of ball carriers from the 2011 recruiting class: James Wilder and Devonta Freeman. Wilder -- his father ran for 6,008 yards in the NFL, mostly with the Buccaneers -- possesses a size-and-speed combination rarely seen from a player whose best position may be on the other side of the ball at linebacker. As for Freeman, he looks more like an FSU tailback at 5-10 and 195 pounds, but what could really take him to the next level is his ability to make plays as a receiver in the passing game.

Despite the fact that the presence of Thompson, Jones and Thomas tends to spread carries pretty thin on the ground, coach Jimbo Fisher isn't afraid to throw his prized freshmen into the mix early.

"Early in camp, we'll put them in with the ones and see how they respond," Fisher said Monday at the ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, North Carolina. "The best players are going to play. We'll see how camp goes, but I think those guys know they have to step up and play and those upperclassman will be up to the challenge. But those young guys will be hungry, so I'm anxious to see how it goes myself."

Even with all that depth at tailback, redshirting Wilder and/or Freeman probably isn't an option for Fisher, not only because the two of them may be too talented to sit for a full season, but the freshman mentality isn't what it used to be.

"I don't think it's just necessarily the win-now philosophy," he said. "I think it's players' play-now philosophy. Kids don't want to redshirt. They want to play, they want to get in the game, they want to go. And if you're recruiting great players, you're not going to keep them five years anyway. It just doesn't work that way. So we'll see. Last year, we played 17 true freshmen. We played the fifth-most true freshmen of anybody in the country last year and felt very good. If these young guys earn a job, they'll play, too. We're anxious to see. The thing about it, when you have a lot of turnover and you get them on special teams and you start getting them in the game, by next year they're going to be starting. So you better get them in the fold with what they're doing, but each situation is different."

Fisher raved about the physical traits of several other incoming freshmen, including 6-1, 205-pound -- and he'll only get bigger -- safety Karlos Williams running the 100 meters in 10.7 seconds at the state finals as a high schooler.


Shotgun start at 8:00 a.m.

6:51 a.m. EDT

Following a lot of hard work Sunday on the first day of the ACC Football Kickoff, members of the media are being rewarded with a golf outing today on Pinehurst No. 4. Sure, it's not No. 2, which is the course that's hosted the U.S. Open, but there's hardly any room to complain. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is scheduled to sit down with print, radio and television reporters for an hour later in the afternoon, so be sure to visit NoleDigest.com early and often for all the news, notes and quotes in the thick of the action at Media Days.

In the meantime, to review what happened Sunday and read the latest comments from junior quarterback E.J. Manuel and junior defensive end Brandon Jenkins here in North Carolina, Click Here.


John Crist is an NFL analyst for Scout.com, a voter for the Heisman Trophy and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America.


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