For nearly three or four years, the Florida State offensive line has been sub-par at best when it has come to run and pass blocking. In fact, much of the blame can be placed on the offensive line for the decline FSU's historically high offensive rankings. With the departure of offensive line coach Mark McHale a little over a year ago, former West Virginia offensive line Coach Rick Trickett has taken over the reigns, and the Florida State faithful are now counting on coach Trickett to restore this once proud offensive line.
So far, Trickett has shaken things up on the offensive line and has produced a unit that is showing steady signs of progress. By replacing many senior offensive linemen with sophomores and freshman, Trickett has already produced two freshmen All-Americans in Rodney Hudson and Ryan Mcmahon. Since he arrived here, coach has hit the ground running and got his class of new offensive linemen for 2008.
These new guys are going to be counted on from outset, and some will see some significant playing time. "In our first three ball games, 7 of our top 10 offensive linemen have never been in a ballgame," Trickett stated.
One thing Trickett has been well-known for is finding "diamond in the rough" type of offensive linemen. One of those guys is Blake Snider out of Ft. Heflin, Alabama. "Snyder is a kid that I fell in love with early in recruiting. We had some other offers out there, but the longer this thing went, I just kept going back to him. I asked him if he was afraid to play D-1 ball, and he said he wasn't scared of nothing. I think you can get another Rodney Hudson out of that guy."
One of the big names of the recruiting class was offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders. The Anthony Munoz Foundation Offensive Lineman of the Year was on and off with FSU, but eventually signed his letter of intent with the Noles. "He has a great past. He's really well coached. Technically, I was looking for a guy like Hudson that may play early. Zebrie is out there a little bit, but he's a big bodied guy. Very athletic, and another real smart kid. I think he is going to be a first round draft pick."
Trickett thinks Sanders will be a first round draft pick
If FSU is looking to win championship, it will not hurt to have big game experience. That comes from former St. Thomas Aquinas offensive lineman Andrew Datko. Datko played in the state championship every year of his high school career. "I am very intrigued with him. The more I am around him, the more I like him. He kind of reminds me of Matt Light of the New England Patriots. I think it is all ahead of him," Trickett added.
Datko reminds Trickett of Matt Light from New England
As evident, Trickett is able to recruit linemen that are "his type of guys." Just because they are what he is looking for doesn't necessarily mean, they are molded into his style of play. "I have the word COACH on my hat, and that's why I coach these guys. I have to develop these guys, and that is what we have to do. I have never seen any high school guys that don't have a lot of work to do."
A big key to football is smarts. The smartest men in football are usually the offensive line, and Trickett considers that a big part of his recruiting process. "We have guys that are educated. Just like Bobby Knight said, smart wins. The lowest score that we have is a 900 (on the SAT) from these kids. They work hard and we already have three guys who hired personal trainers to get ready for the season," Trickett said.
As for now the future looks bright for the Florida State offensive line. "We have guys that we can build on. We have solid guys and guys that are going to be here, and there education is important to them." For now, the fan faith is in Trickett. Only time will tell if Trickett can answer their prayers.