Spring Stock Report: Tight End

Now that spring drills are in the rearview mirror for Florida State and the annual Garnet and Gold Game has been played, it's time to analyze the Seminoles position by position. Today? Tight end.

Projected Starter: Nick O'Leary
Notable Backups: Dan Hicks, Will Tye, Christo Kourtzidis

The Skinny: Somewhat of a forgotten position for years in Tallahassee, the tight ends were featured early and often during spring practice for the Seminoles -- regularly with two of them in the same offensive set. Hicks was switched from defensive end to tight end and is already a tremendous in-line blocker, which should help the running game find more holes and second-level opportunities than it did a season ago. O'Leary was less of a traditional hand-on-the-ground tight end and more of a 21st-century H-back, even lining up at fullback and in the slot at times in an effort to make it easier on him as a route runner.

Stock Up: Hicks took to his new position like a fish to water, which is not much of a surprise since he did play tight end in high school and has always been regarded as one of the better pure athletes on the team among the big boys. He reeled in two passes for 42 yards in the Garnet and Gold Game, including a pretty 35-yarder from freshman quarterback Jacob Coker on the run, and while his receiving skills should only improve, he's ready to make a difference right now as a blocker.

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Stock Flat: O'Leary was targeted a lot by coach Jimbo Fisher in the spring game, as the Palm Beach Gardens native finished the day with five catches for 53 yards, but it remains to be seen if his blocking has seen enough of an improvement to make him an every-down option. Fisher doesn't like his offense to be predictable based on personnel, and opponents quickly came to realize in 2011 that when O'Leary entered the huddle, FSU was looking to throw.

Stock Down: Florida State requires a No. 3 tight end to use in short-yardage and goal-line situations because Beau Reliford and Ja'Baris Little are both out of eligibility. However, Tye was sometimes replaced this spring in those "truck" formations by junior fullback Chad Abram, which means Kourtzidis, an incoming freshman, might have a chance to see the field.

Fall Wish List: O'Leary is so dangerous he keeps some of those talented receivers on the sideline, and Hicks wakes Fisher and Co. up from their third-and-1 nightmares of a year ago.

Spring Stock Reports: QB  |  RB  |  WR  |  TE  |  OL  |  DT  |  DE  |  LB  |  CB  |  S

John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

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