Florida State starts fall practice in less than a week, and while there aren’t many holes to fill there are some questions out there.
5. Running Back
Running back may not seem like much of a concern with Karlos Williams coming back and I agree. It is the depth behind him that is the question. The only running back on the roster, besides Williams, that has any game experience is Ryan Green who saw spot time during blowouts last year. Mario Pender has been academically ineligible for the first two years he has been here, but after two straight semesters on the Academic Honor Roll it looks like he will be able to play. Freshman Dalvin Cook had to sit out the spring due to injury, but if he proves to be the same type of homerun hitter at Florida State as he was in high school he could earn himself some playing time.
Two thirds of Florida State’s linebacking corps from last year’s National Championship team have gone on to the NFL. The good news is that there is plenty of experience available to fill those positions. Linebacker Terrance Smith will almost certainly hold one of the linebacker slots. The others are up for grabs, but Mathew Thomas, Markuss Eligwe, Reggie Northrup and E.J. Levenberry look like the prime candidates to fill those slots.
Either your team is pretty good or your punter is really bad when he makes a list like this, but in Florida State’s case the answer is both. Cason Beatty was awful last year. The question is what can the Seminoles do about it? For starters Beatty will have some competition as Florida State brought in a preferred walk-on to challenge him. Brian Crews averaged 46.2 yards per punt last year for Lincoln High School with a long of 79 yards. Hopefully Crews can challenge Beatty enough to make him better or Crews wins the job outright.
2. Wide Receiver
When you lose two receivers who had a combined 2000 yards receiving the previous year you can expect some drop off. There is no doubt that Winston will miss Benjamin and Shaw, and the arrest of Jesus Wilson during the offseason doesn’t help the situation. That being said the cupboard is definitely not bare. Rashad Greene, Florida State’s top receiver, returns for his senior year and Florida State signed, on paper, arguably the best wide receiver class in the history of the program last year with Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane, and Ja’Von Harrison. The first two should come in and make an instant impact and could vie for a starting job. Scooter Haggins is back from injury and looks like the leading candidate to step into Shaw’s role in the slot. Isaiah Jones and Christian Green will both have a chance to step up as well. That doesn’t even mention the fastest player in all of college football, Levonte Whitfield, who should see plenty of time in the slot as well.
1. Defensive Tackle
Replacing Timmy Jernigan is going to be very hard to do, but it makes it just a little bit easier when you have another five star that can step into his place. A lot is riding on Eddie Goldman stepping up this season. The other defensive tackle position is the real question. Can Nile Lawrence-Stampe, Keith Bryant, Desmond Hollin, or one of the freshman, Derrick Nnadi and DeMarcus Christmas, step into that spot and produce? Florida State didn’t just lose Jernigan last year they also lost Demonte McCallister and Jacobbi McDaniel who provided solid depth at the postion. It’s going to be a tall task for this year’s defensive tackles to play at the level they played at last year. Someone has to step up. Who will it be?