Scouting the ACC: Florida State

It was a tough season for the Seminoles in 2002 and looking at April's draft, one could see why. A program that consistently puts multiple players into the first round had only a single prospect selected on the first day. Don't despair; things seem as though they will quickly turn around.

The talent on offense is good with the potential to be outstanding. We were the first to report on Greg Jones' knee injury last season.  We were in Winston-Salem scouting the game when the big interior back went down with torn ligaments against Wake Forest. Jones runs with great vision, instinct and power. Rarely brought down by the first defender, he carries the pile for extra yardage. Though not fast, he displays quickness through the hole and is competent catching the ball out of the backfield. Three questions must now be answered: How will his knee respond to surgery? Can he regain full form on the field? And what is the long-term prognosis? If the answers are favorable, Jones will be an early pick in 2004. They say quarterbacks get too much of the credit and equally, too much of the blame. That is true of Chris Rix. The big-armed passer is a solid quarterback who makes all the throws on the move or in the pocket. He does not make the vast number of bad decisions many think, yet at the same time seems to have trouble handling extra duties. Overall, Rix must improve his accuracy, pass placement and most especially, consistency on the field. He is still a nice prospect and must be watched. Up front they have a pair of talented tackles, Ray Willis being our favorite. Willis is a mammoth blocker yet a solid athlete with tremendous overall body strength. He did a fine job playing the strong side in the FSU blocking scheme, one that requires blockers to line-up on both sides of the line. Willis has a great amount of upside potential as does Alex Barron, equally as athletic but not as dominant or consistent compared to Willis. Craphonso Thorpe displayed serious potential at times last season but must pull it together as FSU needs the junior to respond after losing their top three wide outs.

As usual, the defense is characterized by explosion and quickness. Everyone talked about Darnell Dockett after his tremendous campaign in '01, but Dockett fell a little closer to earth last year as he was invisible at times and easily handled by opponents. He has first round athletic skills and plays to them on occasion but must really turn up the consistency and focus off the field. The lineman no one speaks of is Travis Johnson, who plays on Dockett's shoulder. Johnson was actually much more effective making plays in the offensive backfield last year compared to Dockett, yet he was the lineman opponents doubled up front. He is athletic and may have better growth potential compared to his teammate. A fourth year junior, Johnson has a great future. Kevin Emanuel is like his defensive end predecessors from Tallahassee; undersized but athletic and fast. The Noles outside linebackers have been favorites of ours the past two years. Kendyll Pope reminds us of Tommy Polley to this point in his career; quick and outstanding against the pass but a little undersized and not stout defending the run. Pope looks like a solid weak-side player at the next level as does Michael Boulware. Peter's younger brother is a forceful defender with terrific explosion, range and the ability to make plays in every direction of the field. Boulware effectively covers wide receivers in the slot or wreaks havoc up the field. Like Pope, he is a bit undersized and will play some strong safety in '03 but he has great potential on the football field and in the weight room. FSU has a trio of corners to watch, Rufus Brown being the best and most consistent. Brown has the speed and an explosive closing burst, as well as a nose for the ball. Stanford Samuels lacks the recovery speed to be anything other than a nickel back while Bryant McFadden has skills but needs repetition.

Tony Pauline
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