Florida State Football: Five Up and Comers Who Will Make an Impact in 2011
Spring ball for Florida State officially started last Friday, and already the hype surrounding this program is at the boiling point. The Seminoles are pegged as a National Championship dark horse, and they certainly have all the pieces to do so.
While the 'Noles did bring in the top-rated recruiting class, the cupboards are still full from previous classes and players who have already paid their dues and are now getting their long awaited shot at making an impact.
The regulars for the program should—and will—perform to the standard they are accustomed to, but it's the newcomers who will decide whether or not this program lives up to its own lofty expectations.
If all goes according to plan, Jimbo Fisher will be hoisting the crystal ball in just his second year as a head coach.
5. Willie Haulstead: Wide Receiver
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Last year, Willie Haulstead had 38 receptions for 587 yards and six touchdowns. Most receivers would be happy with that type of year, especially if it's their first season of actual playing time, but Haulstead showed flashes of being a go-to receiver.
Haulstead is a burner at 6'3", 215 pounds and can stretch a field. His route-running ability should progress this season, and he should be more involved with the offensive game plan.
Haulstead has already emerged as the top receiver, surpassing veteran Bert Reed for the starting spot. His only goal now will be to remain consistent and to be a threat in each game.
If Haulstead can perform up to his capabilities, this offense is going to flourish, making new starting quarterback E.J. Manuel's job much easier.
4. Jacob Fahrenkrug: Left Guard
Jacob Fahrenkrug gets the task of filling the shoes of former All-American Rodney Hudson. Fahrenkrug is already bigger than Hudson at 6'4", 307 and he has been pegged as the starter at left guard.
With Hudson and Ryan McMahon moving on to the NFL and the line getting a new face lift, newcomers like Fahrenkrug will have to step up immediately if the offense wants to remain in stride from a year ago.
Fahrenkrug will have the benefits of playing beside left tackle Andrew Datko and new center David Spurlock at center; both have starting experience.
Look for Fahrenkrug to pick up where Hudson left off.
3. LaMarcus Joyner: Free Safety
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Last season, LaMarcus Joyner stepped onto campus as the No. 1 rated defensive back in the country coming out of high school. He played mainly in nickel-and-dime packages, but he was too good to keep off the field.
With the emergence of Xavier Rhodes at corner last season and Greg Reid being the star of the defensive backfield, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops moved Joyner to free safety for this season.
While Joyner doesn't have the ideal size at just 5'8", 192 pounds, he makes up for it with speed and athleticism.
Last year Joyner had 22 tackles and one interception. Look for those numbers to increase dramatically as he finds himself in a starting role.
2. Bjoern Werner & Cornellius Carradine: Right Defensive End
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It hasn't been decided just yet as to who will get the nod starting opposite side of Brandon Jenkins on the defensive line. Bjoern Wener enters the 2011 season as a true sophomore—and he saw some playing time last year—but Cornellius Carradine was a prize JUCO recruit this season. Both will be in a heavy battle for the starting nod.
Last season, Werner tallied 20 tackles, six tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a pass break-up.
Carradine played for JUCO Butler Community College in Kansas and racked up an astounding 120 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 16 sacks and two forced fumbles—one of which was returned for a touchdown. He's a physical specimen at 6'5", 257 pounds, and he has more hype around him than recent Florida State defensive end Markus White who also played his junior college at Butler.
Werner and Carradine both bring different elements to the table, but the most important job for the two of them will be to apply pressure to the quarterback. With the outstanding season Brandon Jenkins had a year ago, he will be facing double- and triple-team blocks this year.
Worse case scenario—these two split time and wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
1. E.J. Manuel: Quarterback
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Did you really expect anyone else? E.J. Manuel has been waiting for this opportunity since he came to Florida State three years ago as a five-star quarterback.
He has paid his dues, put time in as a backup, learned the system and played for Ponder when he was injured. He has shown flashes of being an elite quarterback, while other times he has shown inconsistent play and a lack of command.
Now all eyes are on him. The hype is at an all-time high; whether Florida State lives up to the hype or crumbles, all eyes will be on Manuel.
He will have plenty of weapons offensively, and a stout revamped defense that will be in the second year under Stoops, but most importantly Manuel will have Fisher in his corner. That is enough motivation in itself for him to perform at a high level.
Look for Manuel to overcome the pressure and to be the next great quarterback at Florida State.