FSU Beat: ‘Noles Still Big, Fast, and Talented

The Florida State Seminoles have been hard at work for a full week now, and at this early juncture in fall camp, there are already several strong storylines beginning to form. Let’s take a look at several developments and how they may impact the season, which is now just under three weeks away. Last week, we took a look at some of the things we know and would be looking to learn about the 2012 Florida State football team.

For those who are wondering, the answer is yes, the Florida State Seminoles are still incredibly big, fast and talented. Today, the focus is on specific players and units that have been making their mark and impressions on their peers and coaches.

Thompson back in the saddle

There are some instances in which to be encouraged here — and it starts with the FSU backfield, most particularly veteran running back Chris Thompson. Last season, Thompson suffered a broken back. This was an injury that many speculated could cost the Madison, FL native his football career. Instead of accepting the grim outlook, Chris Thompson dedicated himself to making his comeback, and by all accounts is returning to form. This is very encouraging for Florida State, a team looking to reclaim an identity on the ground after a full season of inconsistency in 2011. If Chris Thompson is back to his 2010 form, the Seminole offense will have an entirely different look.

Offensive line looking up?

This is the question that everyone wants answered, and — while the most concrete answers will not come until the Seminoles officially take the field in September — the early reviews have been encouraging for Seminole fans. Across the line, four of the five starting positions seem to be all but set. Cam Erving (LT), Josue Matias (LG), Bryan Stork (C), and Tre Jackson (RG) have been the steady options at their respective positions for first team snaps.

The right tackle spot has been a shuffle of true sophomore Bobby Hart and JUCO transfers Daniel Glauser and Menelik Watson. Between the three, you have very large bodies at play, each well over 300 lbs. and 6-4 to 6-6 in height. The competition appears to be legitimate, though many feel the FSU coaching staff is either disappointed in Bobby Hart and looking to motivate him, or Hart is simply not the best option at this time and could be in line for a redshirt season. Bobby Hart is probably Florida State’s most talented offensive lineman, but he is also the youngest, with his 18th birthday currently just around the corner as a true sophomore. He still has physical and emotional maturing left to do.

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This position battle will be one to watch over the coming weeks and potentially well into September. Both junior college transfer students are lacking major experience, but appear to be putting in the work necessary to catch on. The question is whether or not FSU will be confident enough in either to warrant a full-time starting role over Hart, who played the majority of his true freshman season.

Young Guns prepared to contribute

One of the biggest things people always want to know is who among the newcomers to their team is actually going to make an impact on the season. Florida State is finally to the point in their program where the number of fresh faces that will see major playing time is severely diminished in comparison to most teams. On the offensive side of the ball, the player receiving the most buzz is actually in his second year in the program. Receiver Kelvin Benjamin is 6-6, 240 lbs. and moves extremely well, considering how much he carries around. He has been generating major buzz consistently since the spring, and even more so as the summer and fall have progressed. The Seminoles are loaded at wide receiver, but to say that Benjamin creates a bit of a unique matchup issue for opposing defenses would be the understatement of the year.

On defense, mammoth true freshman DT Eddie Goldman has been drawing much praise. At times, the D.C native has managed to dominate. Like most defensive tackles at a young age, Goldman is raw in his technique and discipline. What is rare about Goldman is that he has the mass of a nose tackle at 6-4, 320+ lbs., but possesses the length, quickness and pass rushing ability of a 3-technique. The combination is extremely rare, and once he pieces the nuances of the position together, Florida State’s already stellar interior defensive line will be even more formidable. Goldman has the type of talent that could lead to a three year college career.

The other defender that has been the subject of serious discussion is corner Ronald Darby. Another D.C native, Darby’s athletic ability is off the charts and there are hopes that he can be the answer to the question “Who will replace Greg Reid?”. At 5’11, 190 lbs. he has a strength and physicality to his style of play at corner that Reid did not. He also has much better top end speed, as he doubles as an elite track sprinter. He is competing for an opportunity to be FSU’s new punt returner and has taken the majority of his snaps as the second team field corner behind Nick Waisome.

To be clear, Darby is not going to step in and duplicate the production of Greg Reid immediately. A true freshman stepping in to replace a an All-Conference three-year starting senior is the type of occurrence reserved for video games. What is clear at this early juncture is that the physical ability, instincts and technique displayed by Ronald Darby have already earned him the respect of his veteran teammates and he has the potential to truly be special.

We are one-third of the way through camp, and those are a few of the major narratives. We will keep a close eye on these stories and others as they continue to develop in the days leading up to kickoff.

 

Adam Tolliver is an Atlanta, GA native and college football enthusiast who has been covering Florida State Seminole sports for three years. He is currently a contributor at Tomahawknation.com and XOFan.com, where he consistently delivers honest and accurate commentary and reporting regarding Florida State Seminole Football and Men’s Basketball. You can find Adam’s personal twitter account @primediscussion, where he spouts out about all things under the sun, or you can follow @Unconquered_FSU, which is exclusively dedicated to FSU Sports.

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