Jameis Winston answered every question that was raised a year ago and the Heisman winner enters the 2014 season as the unquestioned best quarterback in college football. The only downside is that Winston will be NFL draft eligible following the 2014 campaign and it is hard to envision a scenario where he returns in 2015 (despite two more years of eligibility).
The experienced depth was hurt by the loss of Jacob Coker (Alabama), but red-shirt freshmen John Franklin has had more than a few moments of brilliance and Sean Maguire has continued to elevate his play. There may not be experienced depth, but the feeling inside the program is that both back-up QBs are more than capable of captaining the ship and keeping it on course.
FSU seems to run into a "running back problem" every year for the Spring game and this year is no different. Projected starter Karlos Williams is out for the Spring after a car accident and youngsters Dalvin Cook and Ryan Green are also out with minor injuries.
That leaves Mario Pender as the only healthy running back and even he got dinged up in practice on Monday. The good news is that all should be ready to go for August camp and on talent alone----only the Crimson Tide and perhaps Georgia may have a more stacked backfield.
There are some questions at wide receiver after the departures of Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw. Fortunately the dynamic Rashad Greene returns along with veteran Jared Haggins. Jesus Wilson, Kermit Whitfield, and Isaiah Jones are getting a ton of reps with very positive reports on Wilson's development----some feel he can be an upgrade to Shaw which is a scary thought. Jones size will keep him in the mix and should earn him at least a role in the offense if not much more.
Christian Green continues to be an enigma as he has all the talent in the world, but has been able to translate that to production. Three stud receivers will join the team in August.
Nick O'Leary is out for the Spring after an accident. Kevin Haplea and Jeremy Kerr have both looked excellent, particularly Kerr, there is no question that FSU is in better shape in 2014 than they were in 2013. And again, two players will join the mix in August.
This is the money year on the offensive line as four starters return with a fifth player have a ton of experience. As is typical of an FSU Spring practice the linemen are cross training at a few different spots in order to build depth. If there is a story here, it is that JUCO signee Kareem Are appears to be more than capable of stepping in from day one. He was the lesser touted of the two JUCO recruits (Chad Mavety) and in this writer's opinion.........this is the best group in the country. Keep an eye on Ruben Carter and Wilson Bell as both are making strong cases for playing time.
Mario Edwards, Nile Lawrence-Stample, Chris Casher, Demarcus Walker, and Eddie Goldman will be playing a ton on the defensive line. There are a number of players trying to fit their way into PT including Giorgio Newberry, Desmond Hollin, and Keith Bryant. One negative is that both Justin Shanks and Derrick Mitchell are out for the Spring......both really needed the opportunity to make a move on the depth chart. A slew of newcomers will add depth and competition to this unit in August.
We are not ready to say that this the "money year" at linebacker, a more appropriate term may be that we are entering the "money YEARS" at this spot. Ridiculous talent. Ridiculous depth. If you speak to five different people inside the program you will find five different projected starting units. Terrance Smith, Markuss Eligwe, Matthew Thomas, Reggie Northrup, and E.J. Levenberry appear to all be starting caliber. It was unfortunate that Kain Daub had to be held out of Spring.
The top five at DB appear to be Jalen Ramsey, P.J. Williams, Nate Andrews, Tyler Hunter, and Ronald Darby (out for Spring). Senior Nick Waisome is valuable depth and signs of life have been seen from Lamarcus Brutus. Colin Blake is out for the Spring and he appears to be falling a behind. Newcomer Trey Marshall has been better than advertised.
Thus far there have been no reported major injuries and that should be one of the goals of Spring (or hopes of Spring). Yes some players are banged up, but nothing that is hurting the cause of repeating in 2014.
All systems are a go to repeat and this roster is going to be even better top to bottom than the 2013 version.