Florida State Football: Six Breakout Stars for 2012
In less than a month, the Florida State Seminoles football team will begin their 2012 campaign that has been packed with a heavy dose of hype ever since the bowl victory over Notre Dame back in December. With hype comes questions.
Will this team be able to live up to their expectations?
Will the Seminoles be able to finally make it through their ACC schedule with a spotless record?
Can E.J. Manuel stay healthy for an entire season?
Will the offensive line be able to hold up?
Who will replace Greg Reid?
And so on, but in order for some of these questions to be answered, some new faces will need to jump on the scene. This roster is stockpiled full of talent and now those talented players will need to introduce themselves.
Here's a look at six players that not only will need to emerge, but will have breakout seasons.
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Although it appears that Terrance Brooks has the starting strong safety spot locked up, it's hard to imagine that Karlos Williams isn't going to see any playing time in the secondary this season.
He was the best defensive back coming out of high school two years ago and he's simply too athletic and too good to be riding the bench.
With Greg Reid's absence, Williams may need to step up as a returner as well. It's a pretty good guess to think that LaMarcus Joyner and Rashard Greene will be filling in the gap left by Reid, but after watching Williams as a returner last year as a true freshman, he may just get the nod.
Williams averaged 23.2 yards on kickoff returns last year and had a season-long 33-yard punt return against Maryland last season.
He's a dynamic and talented player and this could be his year to break out and prove why he was the best safety coming out of high school.
Kelvin Benjamin—Wide Receiver
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Kelvin Benjamin has already had a fantastic spring and that is predicted to carry over to the fall. He's a monster at receiver standing 6'6" and weighing in around 240lb. He was redshirted last season as a freshman and although it's a crowded and deep position, he's expected to contribute a lot this season.
Benjamin isn't going to be starting any games, but his size alone will make him a valuable red zone threat. Benjamin is a big, physical receiver and could be exactly what the 'Noles need in red zone situations.
Benjamin will be in the rotation as well and could have a solid freshman campaign, but most importantly, he will be providing another target for Manuel.
Cameron Erving—Left Tackle
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Talk about a change of scenery; Cameron Erving spent his first two seasons as a backup defensive tackle. The 6'6", 310 pound redshirt sophomore will now be the anchor to the very young offensive line.
Erving moved positions in the off-season and has made a huge splash at the left tackle position. He adds great size and strength to a young and inexperienced line, but that's the issue here; Erving is very inexperienced on the offensive line.
Erving is slated to start at left tackle and his job may be the most important out of anyone on the team: keeping Manuel on his feet and not on his back.
The one thing Erving has going for him is practice; he has to block the likes of Brandon Jenkins, Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Gerogio Newberry. Add in the new-comers Chris Casher and Mario Edwards, and Erving has his hands full. Those will most likely be the best defensive ends he faces all year, so that experience is going to help him out tremendously.
Look for Erving to have a solid season.
James Wilder Jr.—Running Back
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James Wilder Jr. had a terrible offseason. He was arrested and then violated his probation; not exactly the kind of offseason the rising sophomore was looking to have.
That is all behind him now and reports have stated that he has been playing great in fall camp.
He's going to need to be great this season. With the loss of Mario Pender for the entire season, the depth at running back took a hit. Devonta Freeman was the breakout star last season, but with a lingering back injury, he may not be as dependable as he was last season.
Chris Thompson is back and appears to be healthy, but Florida State needs a power guy and that's exactly what Wilder can provide. It's time for Wilder to live up to his 5 star ranking out of high school and to realize his potential and translate it to the field this season.
That will all come together this season. It should be a giant year for Wilder and he could open a lot of eyes this season and put his name on the map.
Christian Jones—Outside Linebacker
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Now if you're a Florida State fan and you're reading this, I know what you're thinking: Christian Jones has been playing the last two years and he was a starter last season as a true sophomore; but he hasn't exactly broken out yet and this year he will need to.
With Nigel Bradham graduating and moving on to the NFL, Jones slides over to the weak side linebacker position and will have more space and freedom to make big plays.
Jones is a physical specimen and the linebacker position standing 6'4" and weighing 240lb. He's a fast and smart linebacker and up to this point has been producing, but now he will need to take over.
This is the year that Jones will become a household name. He's had a terrific spring and has been living up to that so far in the fall. Look for Jones to have a monster year.
Senior-to-be Greg Reid was dismissed from the team this summer and now it's up to Nick Waisome to fill the void. Although names like Tyler Hunter and Terrance Brooks have been thrown around to fill in for Reid's departure, it's pretty clear that Waisome is going to get the nod.
Here's the thing, Waisome is going to be the only weak spot of this defense, so there is going to be a lot of pressure on him to step in and perform right away. That's a heavy burden for a true sophomore, but Waisome was a top notch recruit coming out of high school and he's gotten a lot of playing time so far.
Waisome will start across from Xavier Rhodes who most likely will end up on a lot of All-American lists as the season ends. What Waisome will need to do is just know his role and play the position the way he knows how. He's going to have two great safeties to help him out and arguably the best defensive line in the country to disrupt opposing quarterbacks.
The season could start off rocky for Waisome, but look for him to step up to the challenge and have a great first season as a starter.