FSU football: Noles lead the FBS in returning OL starts

Florida State offensive coordinator Alex Atkins arrives for an FSU spring football practice of the 2023 season on Friday, March 10, 2023.Alex Atkins1 1 Of 1
Florida State offensive coordinator Alex Atkins arrives for an FSU spring football practice of the 2023 season on Friday, March 10, 2023.Alex Atkins1 1 Of 1 /

FSU football has had the luxury of having assistant coach Alex Atkins on its coaching staff for the past three seasons.

Heading into his fourth season, Atkins has helped change the narrative of the Seminoles’ offensive line unit, which has gone from among the worst in the country to at least top 25.
However, this hasn’t been a one-man show in offensive line development. He has also had some help from Senior Offensive Analyst Gabe Fertitta and assistant offensive line coach Cooper Williams.

During the 2022 season, FSU ranked No. 38 in the FBS in sacks allowed (20) through 13 games.
This also featured a position unit that suffered a variety injuries with players such as Bless Harris (season-ending injury in season opener against Duquesne), Kayden Lyles (preseason season-ending injury), Robert Scott Jr., Maurice Smith, and Jazston Turnetine.

Thankfully, the injuries did not impact the Seminoles too much on the offensive side of the football, as redshirt junior quarterback Jordan Travis had a phenomenal campaign.

Fast forward to the 2023 season, FSU had a few quality departures that either exceeded their eligibilities or transferred, such as Dillan Gibbons, Jazston Turnetine, Kayden Lyles, Rod Orr (transferred), Lloyd Willis (transferred), and Zane Herring (transferred).

That didn’t stop the coaching staff from acquiring talented players via the recruiting cycle and transfer portal.

FSU football was able to obtain interior offensive linemen Casey Roddick (Colorado) and Keiondre Jones (Auburn), as well as offensive tackle Jeremiah Byers (UTEP). Plus, the Seminoles secured two highly-regarded prospects in four-star offensive tackle Lucas Simmons and three-star offensive tackle Andre Otto in their 2023 recruiting class.

With the addition of so many offensive linemen in the rotation, it allows prospects from the 2022 recruiting class, such as Julian Armella, Qae’shon Sapp, Jaylen Early, Daughtry Richardson, and Kanaya Charlton, to prepare themselves to contribute in 2024.

In years past, the Seminoles would have to rely on underclassmen to make their presence felt in the rotation. But things have changed for the better in Tallahassee, as Atkins will have nine offensive linemen on its roster this fall with collegiate experience.

According to the above tweet, FSU leads the NCAA in returning career offensive line starts with 206.

FSU has lofty expectations as they finished the 2022 season with their 25th 10-win season in program history. Much of the national college football media has discussed the potential Heisman Trophy winning season that redshirt senior quarterback Jordan Travis could have (if he remains healthy).

While all of Travis hype is justified, given his talent level and the weapons around him, he understands that he cannot fulfill his potential without the guys up front.

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