FSU Position Preview: Wide Receiver

Florida State returns every scholarship receiver for the 2016 season, but the position still has plenty of questions.

Depth Chart

X WR Travis Rudolph George Campbell Ja'Vonn Harrison Da'Vante Phillips
Y WR Kermit Whitfield Nyqwan Murray
Z WR Bobo Wilson Auden Tate Ermon Lane Keith Gavin

Last year Florida State had three receivers over 50 catches each, but a multitude of questions remain about the position. Travis Rudolph is the clear leader of the group, and really came on late in the 2015 season. He finished the season as the Seminoles leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns with 59 catches for 916 yards and 7 touchdowns. He had at least 50 yards in five out of the last six games, and finished the season with a 201 yard receiving performance against Houston.

The biggest surprise of the 2015 season was the emergence of Kermit Whitfield. Many had written Whitfield off coming into the season, after a lackluster spring, but he stepped up for the Seminoles, and finished second in receiving yards and touchdowns. The Seminoles only have two slot receivers on the roster, and Whitfield has the starting job locked down.

Wilson had 58 catches last season for 622 yards and 3 touchdowns, but none of those touchdowns came against Power-5 opponents. He averaged just 10.72 yards per reception, and did not have a single game over 80 yards receiving. He will need to have a good fall camp to hold off the younger players gunning for a starting spot. 

The problem that Florida State had last season was that the only player of those three that was over 6-foot is Rudolph at 6-foot-1. Another issue was that no other receiver had more than six catches. Florida State needs a big receiver to step up and be the red zone target that they lacked last year, and they have plenty of candidates to do so.

Auden Tate was the talk of the spring game with his 6 reception, 100 yards, and 2 touchdown performance. His second touchdown catch, which was similar to Kelvin Benjamin's 2013 touchdown catch at Clemson, showed exactly why having a 6-foot-5, 220-pound red zone target is such an advantage. Quarterback Deondre Francois put the ball in a spot that only someone Tate's size could get it, and he brought it down despite excellent coverage. If Tate can be consistent, he will add a dynamic to the Florida State offense that the Seminoles have been missing since Benjamin left. 

George Campbell also has a chance to bring a dynamic that Florida State has been missing since 2013. Campbell, 6-foot-5, 190-pounds, is a burner with a huge frame. Campbell is one of the fastest players on the team, and could provide a big play target for whichever quarterback wins the job. He needs to become more consistent in his routes, as well as catching the football, in order to get more time on the field. Campbell had 3 catches for 42 yards in 2015.

Nyqwan Murray is the other slot receiver on the roster, and he may have the best hands. Murray is extremely smooth in his routes, and will see time on the field this season because of how consistent he is. He is also expected to compete for the starting punt returner role. He caught 6 passes for 65 yards in 2015.

Ermon Lane is the best blocking wide receiver on the roster, and will see reps because of that. His problem is that he doesn't create enough separation, and struggles to catch the football. He's on the verge of being passes up by the younger receivers, and needs a big fall camp. Lane caught 6 passes for 5 yards last season.

Ja'Vonn Harrison is another player that needs a big fall camp. Harrison has been plagued with injuries that have limited his ability to practice including a toe injury that ended his spring after a couple practices. Head coach Jimbo Fisher had praised Harrison before he went down. He caught 6 passes for 129 yards and 1 touchdown in 2015.

Da'Vante Phillips has been hampered by groin injuries during his time at Florida State, and he missed the entire spring. He had 1 catch for -3 yards in 2015.

Keith Gavin is a big receiver that the Florida State coaching staff is extremely high on. He will need time to adjust to the system, but could be a big weapon for the Seminoles in the future.


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