FSU Wide Receiver Race Still Wide Open


To most college football fans, the spring games that take place on campuses across the nation signal the beginning of the next season as it marks the first chance for the fans to see their new teams in action. Additionally, coaches use the spring game as a chance to see which players rise to the occasion on the big stage as they begin to make their decisions about who will start on opening weekend. However, one predicament that Jimbo and staff find themselves in after this year’s spring game is that a true leader of the FSU wide receiver corps has not yet risen, raising questions about who will start for the ‘Noles at wideout for the first week of the season against Texas State.

It is always a challenge when the top 2 receiving targets, in this case Rashad Greene and Nick O’Leary, graduate and progress onto the NFL in the same year. However, the depth to replace Greene and O’Leary is there with multiple veterans returning and 3 freshmen who have the talent and opportunity to contribute early in their careers.


  • Jesus “Bobo” Wilson, a junior from Miami, Florida, led all returning Seminole receivers in receptions last season with 42 catches in 13 games, an average of 4.0 catches per game. He also racked up 527 yards and scored 4 touchdowns. So far in his career, Wilson’s biggest weakness has been his proclivity towards dropping perfectly catchable balls. However, in the few spring practices which were open to the media as well as the spring game, Wilson demonstrated more sure hands. In the spring game, Wilson had 114 yards receiving on 8 catches, both of which led all receivers on either team. As the most experienced receiver in the Florida State corps, Wilson will need to rise for the occasion for next season, as he is the probable #1 receiver going forward.
  • Travis Rudolph, a sophomore from West Palm Beach, Florida, played with the first-team offense as the #2 receiver in FSU’s spring game. Although he had a small impact in the spring game, managing just 2 catches for 30 yards, Rudolph led all receivers who are back on this year’s team with 555 receiving yards on 38 catches with 4 touchdowns. Due to the impact that he had last season, Rudolph will certainly remain with the first-team offense going into summer practice and could be in for a big sophomore season.

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  • Ja’Vonn “Pigg” Harrison, a sophomore from Lakeland, Florida, was essentially a non-factor in Florida State’s offense last season, reeling in 1 catch for 9 yards in the 6 games in which he played. Despite the lack of in-game experience at FSU, Harrison impressed the coaching staff through spring practice and earned his spot as the #3 receiver on the first-team offense at the spring game. In case you missed it somehow, Harrison had his FSU coming-out party of sorts in the spring game, bringing in 5 catches for 94 yards including some difficult acrobatic catches which showcased his athleticism. As of now, it seems that Harrison has usurped the #3 receiver spot from Ermon Lane despite Lane seeing much more playing time in their freshmen seasons.
  • Ermon Lane, a true sophomore from Homestead, Florida, entered as a consensus five-star prospect and had a decent freshman season (13 catches for 267 yards with 1 touchdown). However, he was outshone by Rudolph, the other five-star receiver prospect in FSU’s 2014 class, and entered spring practices with a chip on his back, needing to earn his place in the starting lineup. Entering the spring game, he was the #1 receiver on the Gold Team, which had the second-team offensive players. Stat-wise, Lane impressed in the spring game with 4 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. However, that stat line leaves out the slight troubles that Lane had with catching the football. He could have easily had 2 touchdowns in the game but dropped a perfectly thrown over-the-shoulder ball by J.J. Cosentino that hit him right in stride as he entered the endzone. Despite those struggles, I think Lane will start the season at #4 on the receiver depth chart, playing in 4-wide formations and subbing in for Wilson, Rudolph, and Harrison when necessary.
  • Kermit Whitfield, a junior out of Orlando, Florida, is still best known for his magical kick-return touchdown in Florida State’s win over Auburn in the 2014 BCS National Championship. However, that remains his lone touchdown that he has scored as a Seminole. In the 2014 season, Whitfield made 11 catches for 145 yards but was kept out of the endzone. Going forward, I think that the incoming receiver talent will overtake Whitfield in the depth chart, making him a kick returner exclusively.


  • George Campbell, an early enrollee out of Tarpon Springs, Florida, entered Florida State this spring as a highly-touted incoming player. In his senior season of high school football, Campbell had 880 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games. Despite those high expectations for Campbell, he quite possibly exceeded them in the spring game as he took the very first pass he caught 65 yards for a touchdown, showcasing his speed and agility. After the touchdown, he had just one more catch in the rest of the game, a 34 yard leaping catch, but his 2 catches for 99 yards showed his potential to be a big-play receiver. Currently, I have Campbell on the outside of the starting lineup looking in as the #5 receiver on the depth chart. However, if he is able to continue to show off his potential, he may quickly break into the lineup and see more reps.
  • Da’Vante Phillips, another early enrollee, this time from Miami, Florida, entered spring practice intending to compete for minutes but his spring was cut short on March 18th, when he tore a muscle in his groin, an injury that required surgery and knocked him out for the remainder of spring and possibly summer. Once he is healthy, Phillips, who will be behind the pace set by Campbell who practiced for the entirety of the spring, will be in the running to back up one of the main receivers, competing with Campbell, Lane, and possibly Whitfield and Auden Tate for the honor.
  • Auden Tate, an incoming freshman from Tampa, Florida, is a four-star prospect and the lone incoming receiver who is not already enrolled at Florida State. He will graduate from high school in May and join the team in time for summer practice in June. Similar to Phillips, Tate will have less time to pick up the playbook. However, his senior season at Wharton High School, which saw him bring in 815 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns, shows his potential to contribute to the FSU offense. However, I think he is the most likely receiver to be redshirted. If he remains redshirt-free, he will probably see limited playing time but expect Tate to be a large part of the offense in the years to come.

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Needless to say, the FSU Wide Receiver corps has a nice problem entering the 2015-2016 season: they have too much depth and too many capable receivers, which will inevitably cause some receivers to be neglected. However, with such a wide-open race, just about anyone could emerge as the primary receiver in this offense and I fully expect to see Fisher and staff trying out many combinations of receivers to find who has the best chemistry together.