Florida State Football: Biggest Storylines Heading into Fall Camp

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Florida State Football: Biggest Storylines Heading into Fall Camp
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Dalvin Cook, the state's Mr. Football from 2013, is competing for the No. 2 running back job at FSU.

There will be no competition for the starter at quarterback and tailback. Jameis Winston and Karlos Williams have secured those jobs. And Rashad Greene is the Florida State football team's unquestioned No. 1 receiver.

But there will be plenty of competition for jobs at positions like Nos. 2 and 3 receivers, backup tailback, starting defensive tackle and starting linebacker.

Here's a look at five storylines to watch as FSU prepares for the start of preseason camp on Aug. 4.

 

Nos. 2 and 3 receivers

Phil Sears/Associated Press

Contenders

Scooter Haggins, Christian Green, Isaiah Jones, Levonte Whitfield, Jesus Wilson, Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane, Javon Harrison.

 

Worth noting

Green (42), Haggins (20), Whitfield (5), Wilson (3) and Jones (2) have 72 career receptions, four fewer than Greene had (76 receptions, 1,128 yards and 9 touchdowns) as a junior in 2013.

 

Analysis

Ideally, a senior with plenty of game experience—Haggins or Green—would win one of the starting jobs. Haggins has been successful but has struggled with injuries, and Green hasn't been able to duplicate the 26-catch season he had as a freshman in 2011. Jones is 6'4'' and 200 pounds, giving FSU a big body that could go over the middle to make catches. And Whitfield's speed and ability to make players miss would be ideal for a slot receiver.

 

What could happen

Experience should win out. Haggins and Whitfield are ideal slot receivers, so one should win that job. Green and Rudolph will compete for a starting job out in the three-receiver sets.

 

No. 2 tailback

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Contenders

Mario Pender, Ryan Green, Dalvin Cook.

 

Worth noting

FSU loses 1,746 of its 2,844 rushing yards (61.4 percent) from 2013.

 

Analysis

Coach Jimbo Fisher had a 1,000-yard rusher in Devonta Freeman last season, and he likes to use a deep rotation of rushers. While the loss of Freeman and James Wilder Jr. is significant, FSU is very deep at running back. Odds are two of the three players will see significant carries.

Green had just 33 carries a year ago but showcased his speed and ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Pender doesn't have a college carry but has gained experience on the scout team and has the ability to break off long gains, writes 247Sports' Chris Nee. Cook, the state's Mr. Football in 2013, enrolled early to get a jump on academics and learn Fisher's playbook.

 

What could happen

FSU has an abundance of wealth at running back. Cook and Pender could share carries as the Nos. 2 and 3 rushers with Green running the ball when FSU is well ahead in the fourth quarter.

 

Starting defensive tackle

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Contenders

Nile Lawrence-Stample, Keith Bryant, Desmond Hollin, Derrick Mitchell, Giorgio Newberry, Justin Shanks, Demarcus Christmas, Frederick Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Adam Torres, Arthur Williams.

 

Worth noting

The returning defensive tackles made just 60 tackles in 2013, three fewer than Timmy Jernigan (who entered the NFL a year early and was a second-round pick). 

 

Analysis

FSU has six veterans and five newcomers who are battling for playing time. Eddie Goldman will start at one tackle spot, and coaches are trying to figure out who is best suited to start opposite Goldman and who should back him up.

Lawrence-Stample started six games but made just 15 tackles. Hollin has experience at both end and tackle, and he could be a solid run-stopper. Mitchell is 6'4'', 300 pounds and is tough to move around. Newberry played defensive end and tight end before returning to defense in 2014.

 

What could happen

FSU uses a deep rotation of defensive tackles. Lawrence-Stample and Hollin have the experience to win the most playing time. But coaches are also curious to see which player from the large group of true freshmen—Christmas, Jones, Nnadi, Torres and Williams—could contribute quickly. The freshmen will get more playing time, and possibly start, as the season progresses.

 

Starting linebackers

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Ukeme Eligwe

Contenders

Ukeme Eligwe, Reggie Northrup, Ro'Derrick Hoskins, E.J. Levenberry, Matthew Thomas, Kain Daub, Jacob Pugh, Delvin Purifoy.

 

Worth noting

Terrance Smith didn't start at the beginning of the year but had 59 tackles and is the team's leading returning tackler.

 

Analysis

Without starting a game, Northrup finished with 46 tackles and excelled at the weak-side spot (where he could back up Smith). Eligwe has seen the most experience on the strong side, making 18 tackles (10 also came on special teams). Levenberry (39 tackles) is versatile enough to play any of the linebacker positions, and Thomas could be the hybrid defensive end/linebacker that Christian Jones played in 2013.

 

What could happen

Since FSU is in the nickel defense more often than not, the key is placing the linebacker in the game situation where/when he can succeed. Defensive coordinator Charles Kelly will find the right spot for each of the players.

 

Starting safety

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Contenders

Nate Andrews and Tyler Hunter.

 

Worth noting

Andrews led the team in interceptions (four) and tied for the team lead in forced fumbles (three).

 

Analysis

Despite being a true freshman, Andrews played like a seasoned veteran in 2013. He made one start but had a significant impact when he was in the game, and he had two INTs and forced a fumble in the win at Wake Forest. Hunter was supposed to be the starting safety but suffered a season-ending neck injury just three games into the year. He was able to take a medical redshirt and has two seasons left to play.

 

What could happen

Both will see playing time. One will win the starting job at safety, and the other should see playing time in the nickel defense.

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All stats courtesy of seminoles.com and FSU's 2014 media guide. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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