Spring Review: Running Back

Devonta Freeman and James Wilder left early for the NFL draft, but Florida State still returns plenty of talent at the running back position. The 'Noles have seemingly upgraded the position each year over the previous five years, will that trend continue?

1. Karlos Williams, Senior

Skinny: Williams may have the most upside of any player on the current roster and he has had more than a few flashes of brilliance during his career. With prototype size and speed, the sky is literally the limit and it is safe to say that he will be watched closely by NFL scouts.

He does lack experience at the running back position and he is unproven as a feature back, but again the physical tools more than compensate for those two area's. One thing that will be a recurring theme among this RB group is big play ability and Williams has explosive potential every time he touches the ball. We would project him to go over 1,000 yards and he may even average 7 plus yards per carry along the way. Watching him return kickoffs is a treat.

2. Mario Pender, RS Sophomore

Skinny: It has been a tough road for Pender thus far. He enrolled early, but suffered a groin injury which sidelined him for his first season. He was academically ineligible as a RS freshmen which was very, very disappointing. Those issues appear to be in the past as he was an exceptional student in the Fall (one of the stand-outs on the roster).

He will enter Fall camp as the no. 2 and has breath taking potential as a running back. Equally adept at running inside or out, he is the second back that can take it to the house every time he touches it. FSU has used three backs the last several years and Pender can count on getting plenty of touches in 2014. It would not surprise if he was a household name by the end of the year.

3. Ryan Green, Sophomore

Skinny: Green did not get a ton of reps as a true freshmen and then missed some of Spring with an injury. He is another big play threat that could be used more in the passing game than Williams/Pender, particularly with lining up in the slot.

We expect to see plenty of him this season and his role should increase in each of the next three seasons. He will have an opportunity to beat Pender out for the back-up role in the Fall.

4. Dalvin Cook, Freshmen

Skinny: One of FSU's biggest pulls on the recruiting trail for the 2014 class, the excitement was even greater because he was an early enrollee. A shoulder injury dampened spirits as he missed the Spring and thus an opportunity to thrust himself squarely in the mix.

Cook lived in the shadow of Joseph Yearby as a freshmen and sophomore at Miami Central, but quickly established himself as one of the nation's best as a junior and senior. He makes plays and he makes those plays consistently. If he gets a crease, he is gone. It is tough to gauge just how much of opportunity he will have early in the season, but it is a good bet that his role will increase as the season progresses. He has Sunday potential down the road.

5. Johnathan Vickers, Freshmen

Skinny: We do not expect to see much of Vickers as a freshmen, but the big back brings something different to the table than the four above him. He should be more of a power back/Big Back and a year in the weight room should fill him out to 230+. Should he make a move up the depth chart that would speak volumes as the four above are just about as talented as RBs get.

RECRUITING

Skinny: We know that Williams will graduate and Pender is technically draft eligible. While we do not see him doing enough to leave early, FSU does need to be aware that it could happen. Bottom line at least one and likely two is the number here and FSU is in great shape for Jacques Patrick who is one of the Sunshine State's best. Jordan Scarlett and De'Anfernee McGriff are two other in-state backs that have next level potential.

Fullback

Freddie Stevenson (Sophomore) and Nigel Terrell (RS Senior)

Skinny: In the Jimbo Fisher era, Lonnie Pryor is the gold standard at FB and Stevenson showed a ton of potential in the Spring game. A sledgehammer of a runner, Stevenson showed some nice wiggle and explosiveness. Another great job identifying him on the recruiting trail.

Terrell has struggled at FSU (at LB), but he also did some nice things in the Spring game including a little catch and run where he showed quality burst. He will contribute in year five and there is some upside here.


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