Pre-game we singled out Jarmon Fortson as a player we hoped would start to take the next step as a player. He had a relatively quiet afternoon catching three passes for 31 yards and a five yard touchdown from Ponder. Fortson can be a frustrating player to watch, he is just so talented and he will show that talent in spurts. FSU needs those "spurts" to happen more consistently. His best route was midway through the first half when he beat Xavier Rhodes inside and got a step, Ponder did not see him(or was supposed to go elsewhere), but it was the type of move that showcases just how much ability he has. The hope is that Jarmon develops into a legit #1 type target in 2010.
Bert Reed had a huge game with 10 catches for 163 yards and a TD. The 5'10, 167 junior speedster is ready to take on a bigger role in 2010. Reed will be best used working underneath and getting the ball in space where he can either outrun the defense or make something happen. Like Chris Thompson at the RB spot, Reed will be expected to be a big play weapon as well as a key third down contributor. He plays with the game with some swagger and is tough for his size.
Rodney Smith came on late in the game and ended with three catches for 124 yards, including a 69 yard gain where he got behind the defense. Smith also caught a jump ball over Rhodes. At 6'5, he has elite height and has added some weight since high school, he still has a ways to go to reach his ceiling physically, but he is well on his way. Smith can run and has excellent ball skills, he should earn some playing time next year and that will only increase as he continues to learn the offense and becomes a more complete WR. He certainly has the potential to leave Tallahassee mentioned with some of the greats that have played here.
Junior Cameron Wade is all of 6'5 and he showed that he may be ready to contribute in 2010. He has the tools to be another big target(this team has 4-5), he needs to prove that he is dependable. He did not catch a pass in 2009, but we expect that to change if he can hold off some of the youngsters. A.J. Alexander had a sweet over the shoulder catch on a corner route, it was perhaps a sign of things to come. Alexander is a bit of wildcard in the race for snaps, he brings a unique skill set to the position and we look for his roll to increase as the year progresses.
Freshmen Willie Haulstead had a few drops, but he is young and physically has a great body/frame to work with. He is going to need to develop better burst, particularly off the line of scrimmage. He did catch three balls for 26 yards. Two WRs were out for the game: Taiwan Easterling and Josh Gehres. Easterling caught 35 passes for 442 yards last year. Gehres is a local product who coaches rave about. Walk on Timothy Orange made some plays as a slot type.
If this was not enough candidates more help is on the way. FSU signed the best WR class in the country in 2010, Christian Green, Greg Dent, Kenny Shaw, and DeJoshua Johnson will be the next wave, Green and Dent may have an opportunity to see the field as they are a little more physically developed. Shaw and Johnson would both benefit from a redshirt year, although Shaw has incredible route running skills and that could push him to the forefront.
This is a very deep group that has a lot of size: Fortson(6'3), Smith(6'5), Wade(6'5), and Haulstead(6'3) are big targets that have a physical edge on CBs. Reed(5'10), Easterling(5'11), and Alexander(5'11) are smaller types that get the job done in different ways. This group needs at least one and probably two to really step up, our guess is Reed and Fortson for those roles. The competition should be very intense over the summer and carrying through August camp. As with most things offensively, the pieces are place to be a dominant unit, they just have to get it down on the field.