FSU football: Brief 2022 fall camp storylines and contributors

Defensive line coach Odell Haggins and defensive end Dennis Briggs at FSU football practice on Aug. 5, 2019.Img 3139
Defensive line coach Odell Haggins and defensive end Dennis Briggs at FSU football practice on Aug. 5, 2019.Img 3139 /
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FSU Football prepares for a critical 2022 season, but before that starts, preseason camp; where players and coaches evaluate the team and what lies ahead.

The best way to approach this brief introduction is to introduce key players for each position, the elements around them that make them exceptional, and a point of focus this offseason, and then to identify other storylines that could emerge as preseason camp unfolds.

Starting with Jordan Travis, this is the first off-season where he is the starting quarterback. Many outlets and Travis have spoken about how much his confidence has increased since that 5-3 run late last season. As FSU’s defacto starter, he needs to add the skill of availability and a consistent passing game to his repertoire for team success.

Trey Benson-I am high on the Benson and Treshaun Ward combination in the backfield. Both are big and broad, with speed and agility to bust open big runs. Has Lawrance Toafili lost ground in the running back room?

It’s year three, and he hasn’t taken control of the room as I believe he should have. Frankly, if he had been able to stay healthy and add more weight, he could’ve been the feature back with Benson and Ward supplementing. I’m confident in the running backs, but it could be more Benson and Ward than anyone else.

Johnny Wilson/Ja’Khi Douglas/Mycah Pittman/Camren McDonald- These pass catchers excite me the most, given Winston Wright’s ambiguous status. It is hard not to bet on the size of Johnny Wilson. Ja’Khi Douglas proved to be the most reliable deep option when in need of an explosive play through the air, and I can see him building on that in year three.

I like Mycah Pittman as a hard-nosed pass catcher who can help you nickel and dime your way down the field and break tackles to gain yardage in key situations. Also, his contributions to special teams could be incredibly valuable. Maybe this year, I am finally right about Camren McDonald? We better hope I am, as the question marks in the tight end depth chart behind him are concerning.

Dennis Briggs/Derrick McLendon/Jared Verse-This triad along the edges of the defensive line will be deadly for opposing quarterbacks. Briggs being healthy and positionally malleable can pose mismatches and new threats that can carry over and bode success for the rest of the line. McClendon seemed to learn the most behind Jermaine Johnson last year and can be the veteran on the edges in a similar vein.

The defensive interior is filled with pro talent as Robert Cooper continues to shed weight while still being a force, and Fabien Lovett, having turned down an early exit into the professional leagues, could add to his award/draft stock with a strong season. That brings us to the newcomer, Jared Verse. While new to the FBS level and scheme at FSU, Verse has the power and agility to become a force of nature. The fact that multiple outlets have reported about him being out of position yet still making big plays in the backfield is impressive, and it bodes well for what he can do come camp and the fall season.

Tatum Bethune-The veteran addition could be paramount to dictating the success of the defense. His ability against the run and to play in space and coverage could make him and Kalen Deloach a force to be reckoned with.

The Deloach Bethune partnership also allows for further development from depth pieces and allows the team to play to each individual’s strength given the scenario and create optimal sub-packages.

Akeem Dent/Jammie Robinson/Azarayeh Thomas/Omarion Cooper/Kevin Knowles-I see this combination as the starting combination in the defensive backfield. Cooper and Dent’s emergence toward the end of the season was very promising for very different reasons. For Cooper, it established him as a building block on the boundary of his time in Tallahassee. Dent’s positive turn was more so relieved that he can be a significant contributor here before time ran out. Kevin Knowles also developed into a contributor at the Nickle corner position, allowing him to spell Jammie Robinson and keep Robinson up at safety, where he fits best and has his highest professional grades. Finally, there are the freshmen newcomers that everyone seems to be high on. It will be a battle to see who starts between Sam McCall and Azarayeh Thomas, but both freshmen seem to have carved out a significant role for themselves in the short time they have been here and are building blocks both now and in the future. Other names that could factor in are Renardo Green and Jarques McClellion.

To conclude, I am going to pose a couple of rhetorical questions to ponder while we approach fall camp. See if you have any answers and if they resurface again throughout the preseason.
What is the ceiling for Jordan Travis, and will he achieve it this fall? How early into camp can we tell, and what will it mean for his pro prospects?

What combination of talents is most optimal at skill positions on offense and defense? What does depth along the trenches mean for this team?

Here’s to hoping they have a great fall camp and get to the Duquesne game with no major injuries.

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