Florida State Football: 5 Biggest Fall Camp Standouts
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With preparations for the September 1 season opener against Murray State set to get underway, the buzz is building for Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles as they wrap up their fall camp.
The ‘Noles checked in at No. 7 in both preseason editions of the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the Associated Press Poll, but that has not stopped notable college football experts like ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit from picking FSU to claim its third crystal football in school history.
While offseason high hopes are nothing new in Tallahassee, Fisher and his players are hoping that the lessons learned last season—when the ‘Noles started the season ranked as high as No. 5 but failed to claim the ACC—will benefit them in 2012.
Even though the Seminoles have a roster filled with experienced upperclassmen in nearly every position, several players—whether they are newcomers, experienced players switching positions or recovering from injury—have turned heads thus far.
Which player have been the biggest surprises in practices thus far?
Here are the five biggest standouts in FSU’s fall camp.
5. Menelik Watson
JUCO OL Menelik Watson highlights
The 6’6” 320-pound JUCO transfer is in a heated battle to claim the starting role at right tackle with fellow JUCO import Daniel Glauser.
Watson has one of the more unique stories in his journey to FSU despite just having eight games worth of experience playing football, and his enormous potential could help the Seminoles solve their biggest weaknesses from last season (h/t Luke Winn, Sports Illustrated).
The early returns appear to be favorable on both of offensive line coach Rick Trickett’s newest pupils, and with Watson’s freakish combo of size and athleticism, the hidden gem of FSU’s loaded 2012 recruiting class may end playing a massive role in ending the Seminoles’ ACC title drought (h/t Coley Harvey, Orlando Sentinel).
4. Cameron Erving
Erving has adjusted well to the switch from defensive tackle to playing left tackle on the OL.
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Not to be outdone on the offensive line, Erving has made the move from defensive tackle—where he played last season as a redshirt freshman and recorded 20 tackles and one sack—and appears to have the inside track on starting nod at left tackle.
Even though he had never played on the offensive line prior to the switch, Erving made the move and has drawn rave reviews from teammates and coaches (h/t Brendan Bures, Orlando Sentinel).
Erving has more than held his own facing the likes of defensive ends Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner in practice, which should immensely benefit him when he faces elite pass rushers over the course of the season.
3. Giorgio Newberry
DE Giorgio Newberry HS highlights
With the Seminoles’ trio of pass-rushing terrors in Jenkins, Werner and senior Tank Carradine—plus highly touted incoming freshmen Mario Edwards, Jr. and Chris Casher—redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry appeared to be a candidate to get lost in the shuffle of highly touted defensive ends on FSU’s roster.
With Newbury standing at an imposing 6’6” and 273 pounds, it is hard to imagine him being hidden in any setting.
Newberry used his redshirt season to brush up on his technique, and Fisher and his fellow teammates have taken notice (h/t Coley Harvey, Orlando Sentinel).
His emergence adds even more depth to a ‘Noles defensive line already touted as potentially the nation’s best collection of talent in the trenches.
2. Ronald Darby
CB/KR/PR Ronald Darby HS highlights
Darby has been the brightest star from the 2012 recruiting class that is loaded with a number of former prep stars pegged as potential difference makers in the future for the Seminoles.
With the dismissal of star corner Greg Reid, Darby is neck-and-neck with sophomore Nick Waisome to step into his vacated starting spot opposite Xavier Rhodes.
Waisome has been a solid performer in practices as well—which bodes well for the depth of the secondary in the wake of losing a three-year starter.
However, Fisher has not shied away from being giddy at the potential of the 5’11” 189-pounder with sub 4.4 speed (h/t Coley Harvey, Orlando Sentinel).
If FSU fans are looking for a breakout freshman, the odds seem strongly in favor of the former 5-star prospect and Maryland native.
1. Greg Dent
Fisher has raved that Dent has enjoyed the best offseason of any FSU WR.
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If there is one position that Fisher may have more players ready to contribute than the defensive line, it may be at wide receiver.
With senior Rodney Smith and sophomore Rashad Greene—the team’s top two pass catchers in 2011—returning, Dent was another candidate that desperately needed to make a statement before the beginning of the 2012 season.
Consider that mission accomplished with Fisher gushing that Dent has been the best and most consistent wide receiver to this point in camp (h/t Bob Ferrante, Palm Beach Post).
With Fisher identifying several new players that have a chance to contribute this fall in a major way, the Seminoles are in a better position to finally have the big season that fans and pundits have been waiting for over the better part of the last decade.