Recruit Roundup: Running Back

Florida State used a three-running back rotation in 2010 and had a productive season on the ground. All three players return, as well as a pair of highly-touted newcomers in James Wilder and Devonta Freeman. NoleDigest takes a look at the present, the future and the "future" future at the RB spot.

The Players

RB

Ty Jones (Senior)

Jermaine Thomas (Senior)

Chris Thompson (Junior)

Devonta Freeman (Freshman)

James Wilder (Freshman)

Eric Beverly (Freshman)

FB

Lonnie Pryor (Junior)

Debrale Smiley (Junior)

Chad Abram (Sophomore)

This looks to be a very strong group of RBs, and the numbers are a bit high at nine players -- excellent depth. Jones and Thomas are attempting to cap off productive careers at FSU. Thompson is more of a wild card right now because of the injury and the lingering pain. Great things are expected of Freeman and Wilder. It is likely that both will see the field plenty this year. Beverly appears to be fully recovered from a knee injury.

Pryor is one of the unsung heroes of this team. He will continue to make plays from that spot. Everyone that saw Abram a year ago saw the size. He will use it at FB. Smiley could be an incredible FB, but he has to commit to the spot.

Players should be more familiar offensively this year, and this should be one of the strengths of the team while topping last year's numbers for rushing.

The Recruits

Mario Pender

Pender is one of the best backs in the country and a different back from Freeman and Wilder. He has more speed than either and also the body to add significant weight. The sky is the limit and he is expected to enroll early, which should give him a legit chance at early playing time.

Just like Freeman, Pender was a guy who had done very little at the high school level when FSU offered a scholarship. And just like Freeman, he jumped at that opportunity. If Freeman's season was not the best in the state last year, then Pender's was. What both backs have in common is that they were at FSU's camp, and that is something to really keep an eye on at this position. Bottom line is that running backs coach Eddie Gran has pulled the top back in the state in his first two years.

There has been talk of a second back in the class, and it is worthy of discussion. If every player above returned, FSU would be in great shape with eight scholarship running backs. That is a perfect number in the grand scheme of things. What happens if Thompson's injury lingers or shuts him down? Wilder? Smiley and Abram look for greener pastures? One? None? It is these questions that make college football recruiting so much more difficult than the NFL Draft. NFL teams can just sign a player. You can't do that in college football.

The "Future" Future

As of today, FSU would be losing five RBs over the next two seasons: Jones, Thomas, Thompson, Pryor and Smiley. They only have one back right now to replace those players. At least two RBs will be needed in 2013. As it turns out, that appears to be very good timing because the state of Florida is loaded with HHF at the RB position.

Five to keep an eye on:

A.J. Turman, Boone: Camped. Has great size. Same high school as current commit Marvin Bracy. Would appear to be the most likely to grab a spot early in the process.

Lorenzo Woodley, Columbus: Big back who will not carry load as junior. Could be a good thing as he continues to develop. Camper. Tennessee and Auburn appear to be two early offers.

Fred Coppet, St Thomas: Burner. Like Bellamy, projects to be that game-breaking back. Skinny. Plethora of backs there, which will protect him for another year.

Tarean Folston, Cocoa: Might turn out to be the state's best back. Will get plenty of opportunity, as Cocoa just pounds the rock.

Greg Bryant, American Heritage-Delray: Physical back that plays both ways. Could be a complete back somewhat in the mold of Freeman. Weight-room warrior.

Bottom Line

Florida State has upgraded this position over the past two recruiting cycles and figures to be set for years to come. If FSU lands just one back in 2012, they almost certainly will need two in 2013, which makes it one of the priorities. Fortunately, the prospects are there and should be easily landed. Look for production to continue to INCREASE for the next few years.


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