Oct 27, 2012; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles offensive line coach Rick Trickett before the game against the Duke Blue Devils at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Can FSU's Rick Trickett Work Voodoo on the Offensive Line Again?

Sep 3, 2011; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles Offensive Line Coach Rick Trickett talks with offensive lineman David Spurlock (79) and offensive guard Jacob Fahrenkrug (60) and offensive guard Bryan Stork (52) during the second quarter against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Like EJ Manuel, Rick Trickett is a polarizing figure in FSU circles.  You either love ‘em or hate ‘em.  You either love his hard nosed approach, developing tough-nosed, grinders and maulers or you hate his style and complain about his lack of recruiting ability.

Some people would even say he has caused his own problems–the lack of talent and depth on the line doesn’t give him a free pass, but is rather an indictment of his recruiting woes.

The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between.  What’s likely is that Rick Trickett is an excellent chef, but a mediocre shopper.  What we’d like to discuss in this article is how Rick almost scored one of the best offensive line hauls last year, but for reasons beyond his control, FSU didn’t get all of the bodies it needed to (1) build depth and (2) create a succession plan for injured/graduating players.  Then, we’d like to offer our view on Rick Trickett, the coach.

  The Recruiting Story

It should make you a little sick to your stomach to think that we missed on 3 four star recruits this cycle: (1) Austin Golson; (2) Denver Kirkland; and (3) Richy Klepal.  The Golson story may be the toughest to bear because Golson was committed for well over a year to the Seminoles.  It was only a few weeks before signing day that Golson got cold feet and de-committed.  He would later sign with Ole Miss, allegedly to attend the same university as his girlfriend.  There are a ton of rumors about Golson, but none of those have been substantiated by Golson or FSU.  All we need to know is that for reasons beyond Trickett’s control, Golson would not wear garnet and gold this year.

The Denver Kirkland saga is more frustrating, but it didn’t leave you feeling like you lost anything.  Kirkland was never committed and while he flirted around with FSU, he ultimately signed with Arkansas.  Why did Kirkland sign with Arkansas?  Because Matthew Thomas told him he was signing with USC.  Had Matthew Thomas told Kirkland that he was headed to FSU, Kirkland would have joined him.  Just like that.  Another 4-star lineman gone.  And yet again, beyond Rick Trickett’s control.

Lastly, Richy Klepal.  This story is a bit different–if he could play, he would.  But unfortunately, this is now a matter of life and death.

One of Florida State’s top recruits will no longer play football because of concussion-related issues.

Richy Klepal, a senior lineman at Plant (Tampa), informed his coaches and teammates Thursday that medical issues will force him to quit playing, according to Bright House Sports Network.

Ranked by Rivals.com as a four-star recruit, Klepal committed to FSU earlier this summer and was expected to sign with the Seminoles in February.

A 6-foot-5, 285-pound tackle, Klepal originally sustained the injury two weeks ago during a practice.

“My doctor told me he had a retired NFL player who had 10 concussions and my brain looked worse than his,” Klepal told Bright House Sports.

Plant coach Robert Weiner told Bright House Sports that FSU coach Jimbo Fisher will still honor the scholarship.

“Jimbo told Richy that he 100 percent still has a scholarship to FSU,” Weiner said. “That was a such a bright spot on what has been a roller coaster ride of a day.”

Weiner told Bright House Sports Klepal’s injury was quite a scare.

“It wasn’t a matter of the number of concussions he’s had,” he said. “It was a hemorrhage in his brain.”

So, again, the common theme: another 4-star lineman would not be able to suit up for FSU because of issues beyond Rick Trickett’s control.

You can’t say Rick Trickett is a terrible recruiter when he had the chance to score Kirkland, Golson, and Klepal, but couldn’t, all for reasons beyond his control.  If you add those three to the class we signed (Wilson Bell, Ira Denson, William Kerr, and Ryan Hoefeld), you have one of the best offensive line classes FSU has ever recruited.  It was this close to happening, too.  And so before you bash Trickett for some of his alleged shortcomings, just take a step back and remember what could have been.

  The Coaching Story

Rick Trickett, the football coach, may be one of the best in all of football.  Just within the last few years, he’s taken 2 defensive players and converted them to offensive line starters (Ryan McMahon and Cam Erving).  That’s skill, not luck.  He turned Andrew Datko and Rodney Hudson into maulers, from day 1.  He took Menelik Watson, from England, and turned him into a 1st rounder.  His resume is impressive.

What’s more impressive was back in 2011 when FSU decided to start four true freshman in the bowl game against Notre Dame.  Jimbo said that gave them the best chance to win.

Fisher made it clear that starting true freshmen Bobby Hart, Austin Barron, Josue Matias and Tre’ Jackson on the offensive line is not about the future but about giving the Seminoles their best chance to win. Injuries to Jacob Fahrenkrug (hip) and Bryan Stork (finger) forced part of the shakeup. And Fisher said Jackson “is going to be one of the great linemen” to play at FSU.

Pretty amazing when you think about it.  With some additional practice time, Trickett was able to take four true freshman and coach them up to start in the bowl game against Notre Dame.  Those four players are now expected to anchor the line going forward.  So, before you worry about who’s going to win what battle, remember that Trickett is more than capable of preparing his players.  Complain about his recruiting misses, or that he has run some players off, but Jimbo Fisher is not going to jeopardize his job on someone who isn’t fit to do the job.

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