Tight end Nick O’Lery is off to the NFL and Florida State is trying to figure out how to replace him. There are three tight ends on the roster that will fight for playing time. All three of the players competing for that starting spot bring something different to the table.
Redshirt sophomore tight end Jeremy Kerr is easily the best blocker of the group. At 6-foot-6, 266-pounds Kerr is able to push most defensive ends around. Redshirt freshman Ryan Izzo is the most consistent player of the group. He can block and is also a very underrated receiver. Redshirt Freshman Mavin Saunders is the best athlete of the three. He played wide receiver during his high school career and will be a big time threat in the passing game.
Izzo is the most likely to win the starting job at this point. He’s currently running with the first team offense, and his consistency has stood out to head coach Jimbo Fisher.
“Izzo is becoming a heck of a player,” Fisher said. “…Playing unbelievably consistent.”
Kerr will be used a lot in short yardage and goalline sets. He has also seen some time with the first team when Florida State moves to a two tight end set.
“Kerr is playing very solidly,” Fisher said. “…Jeremy Kerr is blocking and playing his tail off too.”
Saunders has had his good moments and his bad moments so far in camp, but the good moments that he has had have been extremely good.
“I told Mavin, there were a couple of things at the beginning of the day, I was going to send him on waivers,” Fisher said. “At the end of the day I was going to put him in the Pro Bowl… Mavin is a perfectionist. Some people who are a perfectionist have a harder time early than guys that aren’t. When you’re a perfectionist it bothers you. Then you get down on yourself. Don’t go in a shell for five minutes before you come back out. When he comes back out, he’s everything. It’s great to see Mavin come back. He ended up having a really good practice.”
With so many options at the position it opens up the playbook for coach Fisher.
"You can create more matchups and problems out of regular," Fisher said. "Two tights, one back and all that stuff, than you can all the spread stuff. You can create a ton of things."
It’s very clear that unlike the past few years with O’Leary, Florida State will be working with a rotation at the tight end position. The good news for Florida State fans is that there is a lot of young talent at the position. The bad news is that it is still very young and inexperienced. It’s going to take time for them to develop.