Florida State Football: 4 Backups Who Will Shine in 2012
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Florida State was a preseason top 10 team heading into 2011, but injuries decimated the roster—particularly on offense—and forced several backups into duty for Jimbo Fisher’s squad en route to a disappointing 9-4 season.
With the 2012 season kicking off in less than three months, preseason expectations for the Seminoles are once again set to be sky high—thanks to 15 returning starters from last season.
However, the depth that Fisher has been able to develop will once again play a pivotal role—with several players having the ability to enter games this fall with little drop-off from their teammates in the starting lineup.
Last season, key reserves like wide receiver Rashad Greene, running back Devonta Freeman, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and safety Terrence Brooks had solid seasons that resulted into them acquiring starting jobs going into this season.
So which non-starters could make a similar impact this season?
Here are four backups that will play a big role for the Seminoles in 2012.
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine
Carradine (#91) was nearly unblockable in last season's matchup against Florida.
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Most observers around the nation know about the Seminoles’ dynamic defensive end duo of Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins—which ranks among the nation’s best tandems.
However, add in former junior college transfer Cornellius “Tank” Carradine—who turned in a solid debut season (38 tackles, eight tackles for loss and five and a half sacks as a backup)—and the ‘Noles pass rush is downright scary.
With the emergence of the 6’5”, 267-pound Carradine late last season, the Seminoles have the ability to keep their edge rushers fresh for the duration of games.
Tyler Hunter high school highlights, courtesy 247 Sports
With the loss of reliable nickel corner Mike Harris to the NFL, Hunter is in line to step into a position that will get him on the field early and often.
The nickel corner technically is not a starter in the Seminoles' base defense, but with more offenses switching to three and four wide receiver sets, getting an extra defensive back on the field becomes a necessity.
The 6', 194-pound sophomore drew praise from Fisher in the spring for his athleticism and his ability to play multiple positions in the secondary.
Hunter mainly saw action on special teams last season, but he could fill a role similar to the one Brooks did last season, netting playing time at both corner and safety.
Kelvin Benjamin high school highlights, courtesy Elite Scouting Services.
The Seminoles return five pass catchers that have caught at least 25 passes (including 2010’s second leading receiver Willie Haulstead, who missed 2011 due to a concussion) in their respective careers.
Despite the wealth of talent and experience in a loaded receiver group, it was the 6’6”, 242-pound Benjamin—who redshirted in 2011—that drew the most buzz for the Seminoles this spring.
His size will certainly make him an intriguing red zone option for EJ Manuel this fall, but expect the jumbo-sized wideout to give the Seminoles an added dimension with his ability to make tough catches over the middle.
James Wilder, Jr.
As the only Seminoles RB on the roster over 200 pounds, Wilder, Jr. could fill the big-back role for Jimbo Fisher's offense this season.
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While his fellow 2011 classmates like Greene and Jernigan made significant impacts as true freshmen, the former 5-star recruit had a modest debut (35 carries, 160 yards, one touchdown) and an off-field issue that caused him to miss a majority of spring practice.
However, due to depth concerns and injury issues in the Seminoles backfield (FSU will only have four scholarship running backs, and 2011 starters Chris Thompson and Devonta Freeman are still nursing injuries heading into fall camp), the 6’2”, 220-pound Wilder will likely play a bigger role within the Seminoles ground attack this season.
Wilder is the Seminoles only true big back on the roster, which should help him earn touches when the Seminoles need the tough yards on the ground that they were unable to gain last season.