A few days ago, I posted an article about the intensifying battle for playing time among the Florida State wide receivers. In today’s spring game, we got a glimpse of just how that competition is shaping up.
To nobody’s surprise, Rashad Greene led the WR corps, catching 11 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Per Greene, those numbers could have been even more impressive: he participated in a green limited-contact jersey today, and I had the chance to ask him about the frustration of not playing to contact. He smiled, and admitted that he could have gained additional yardage if he had the chance to break some tackles.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher has also raved about Jesus “Bobo” Wilson throughout spring practice. The sophomore didn’t disappoint, with a line of 4-101-1. Wilson plays much bigger than his 5-9 frame, possessing excellent body control and the ability to fight for receptions.
After that, it gets a bit murkier. There seems to be a bit of an open door for others to impress, and a couple of ‘Noles certainly took advantage of that opportunity today.
Chief among them was the imposing 6-4 Isaiah Jones, who snagged five balls for 81 yards. Jones looked particularly strong after the catch, turning his hips and shoulders fluidly — a drill the receivers go through everyday in practice — and striding upfield quickly. His size makes him a difficult player to bring down, and he excelled after contact in today’s scrimmage. He may just be the heir apparent to the departed Kelvin Benjamin.
Jones drew rave reviews from his teammates after the spring game. When asked of his potential, starting quarterback Jameis Winston’s eyes lit up, as he replied that “Isaiah had a great day.” One of the players who threw to him was backup QB John Franklin III, with whom I had a chance to speak of Jones’ upside. He responded:
It’s hard to miss Isaiah. That fact that Isaiah will fight for the ball, and he’s a real hard person to bring down, I mean, so when he’s open, even if he’s not open, he’s gonna get open. So, you know, he’s gotten better. His routes have gotten more crisp since he’s been here. He’s a very physical receiver, especially with that frame.
Also impressive was Jones’ physical foil: 5-7 burner Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield. The gold squad got him the ball in space nicely today, and he’s capable of simply outrunning pursuit. Whitfield is a bit more raw at the position, and showed flashes of tentativeness when heading over the middle, but his potential on reverses and bubble screens is limitless. To wit: Kermit turned his four catches into 79 receiving yards.
And don’t forget about the fifth-year seniors. After a year lost to injury, Jarred “Scooter” Haggins returned for the ‘Noles, posting a 4-51-1 line, and jogging to the sideline after a tenuous moment in which he appeared to have again tweaked his knee (Fisher confirmed that there were no serious injuries after the scrimmage). Christian Green failed to coral a couple balls that probably should have been caught, but still averaged 20 yards per reception. And Rashad Gholston had a nice day as well, scoring the day’s first touchdown and tallying 70 yards on three catches.
What have we learned? This group is deep, with further reinforcements arriving this summer via a stellar receiver recruiting class. Winston may be throwing to some new targets– but they seem primed to excel in this offense.