Florida State Football: 5 Potential Breakout Stars Nobody Is Talking About
Florida State Seminoles will likely find themselves ranked in the Top 10 in the preseason rankings for the second consecutive year. As a result they will have a very good chance of competing for an ACC title and a national championship in 2012. However, the team's success may not be due to the likely suspects.
Nearly all FSU fans recognize the importance of E.J. Manuel, Devonta Freeman, and Brandon Jenkins. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe those players are vital to the Seminoles' success; however, there are numerous players on this squad who have the potential to become stars that nobody (or very few) are mentioning.
Here are my top five under-the-radar FSU players who have star potential.
DE Giorgio Newberry
With extremely talented defensive ends: Bjoern Werner, Cornellius Carradine, and Brandon Jenkins, playing time at that position will be hard to come by for any other FSU players. However, redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry may find himself receiving a considerable amount of playing time in 2012.
He has a tremendous motor and is very quick off the ball. And at 6'6'' and 278 pounds, Newberry is a physical force in the trenches. There's no arguing this kid has star potential, but his success in 2012 will depend upon how many opportunities he is given to exhibit his extraordinary abilities.
LB Nick Moody
Filling Nigel Bradham's weak-side linebacker position will be a tall task for the Seminoles. Bradham had led the squad in tackle in each of the past three seasons and has been an emotional leader both on and off the field. Since Christian Jones will be moving from strong-side to replace Bradham at weak-side, former strong safety Nick Moody will be taking over the starting job at strong-side linebacker.
This will add a lot of speed to the linebacker core and Moody will help tremendously in pass coverage. Moody had gained quite the reputation as an enforcer the last couple of years and this year the senior will have the opportunity to show off even more of his skills.
As a backup safety last season, Moody recorded 23 total tackles while playing in just nine games. Being a former safety, he obviously has exceptional speed and has put in the work in the weight this offseason, as he now weighs 240 pounds compared to last year when he was 225 pounds.
Of course, Moody's success will come down to his ability to get comfortable in his new position, but he excelled most in past seasons when he was allowed to play closer to the line of scrimmage and essentially become that fourth linebacker. Mark Stoops is hoping Moody can duplicate that success at the linebacker position this fall.
WR Kenny Shaw
In 2011, Kenny Shaw was a viable third option for E.J. Manuel and the Seminole offense, reeling in 34 catches for 418 yard and four touchdowns. And while neither Rashad Greene nor Rodney Smith are leaving Tallahassee, I expect Shaw to put up even bigger numbers in 2012.
Part of the growth in production will simply be due to the maturation of E.J. Manuel as a quarterback. Another year with the same starting receivers will allow trust to build among the offense and will result in Manuel spreading the ball around to multiple receivers.
Shaw is one of the faster Seminole receivers and has the route-running ability and soft hands to excel if he is given the opportunity. Keep an eye out for this shifty receiver to be making big play after big play all season long for FSU.
CB Nick Waisome
With the departure of nickel corner Mike Harris, the Seminoles are desperate for a third cornerback to fill that void. Tyler Hunter will likely replace Harris at nickel back, but don't be surprised if Nick Waisome gets some playing time there or at an outside corner position.
Waisome has outstanding speed, evidenced by his 4.4 40-yard dash time according to Rivals.com. On a team that is known for consistently fielding some of the best athletes in the country, Waisome has the physical potential to be one of the best. That athletic ability allows him to possess great change-of-direction skills and tremendous overall coverage abilities.
While Waisome will not become a starter due to the returning starters at both cornerback positions in Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid, look for the sophomore to get considerable playing time and make a splash as a backup for Mark Stoops' defense in 2012.
RB Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson was the Seminoles' leading rusher back in 2010 and was expected to be their featured tail back once again in 2011. That is, until he suffered a season-ending back injury in their fifth game of the year, finishing the year with just 29 carries for 83 yards and one touchdown.
This season, the senior running back will be looking to make up for lost time. And if he comes back fully healthy (and that is a big "if"), Seminole fans should expect great things from Thompson, as there are really no weaknesses in his game. He can catch out of the backfield, has shown he is solid in pass protection and, as we know, can do the heavy lifting for the FSU offense.
The best thing about this season for Thompson and the 'Noles is the fact that Devonta Freeman excelled as a true freshman last year, leading the team in carries, yards, and touchdowns, when Thompson went down. This means that neither back will have to carry a truly heavy burden, as they will split the majority of their carries.
Thompson may now be an afterthought in Tallahassee due to the emergence of Freeman, but don't be surprised if this guy puts up All-ACC type numbers in 2012.