We've hit the two month mark before the start of the football season. Training camp starts in a few weeks and all but a chosen few players have enrolled and already reported for offseason player workouts.
The incoming freshmen already have a slogan ("It Starts Here!") and Warchant is even selling the shirts.
So today's multi-part preview starts with the most important position on the field -- quarterback and FSU finally has a couple of good options.
Overview: Drew Weatherford and his 31 starts lasted a couple of days in spring before going down with a knee injury and opening the door for another pre-season competition. Christian Ponder, however, might be the toughest competition Weatherford has faced during his four-plus years in the program. Ponder's work ethic and academic accomplishments are the stuff of legends. He has already received his bachelor's degree and will start graduate school this fall. He took advantage of his spring to show how far he has progressed and the potential he has should he enter the season as starter. He also has one big fan -- Jimbo Fisher. So is this the end of the Weatherford era at FSU? Many fans feel like Weatherford will get the starting nod because of Bobby Bowden's conservative ways and the fact that he's always been enamored by the quarterback despite his lack of consistency on the field. Others, who believe that Fisher is calling the shots, feel there is little doubt that Ponder will start the opening game. D'Vontrey Richardson, who was the first quarterback to go "live" during spring in ten years, should see the field in situational downs as long as his eligibility issues are cleared up.
2008 Signee: E.J. Manuel was a top five quarterback prospect. The recruit from Virginia Beach says he doesn't want to declare a redshirt right away, he's just trying to compete and see what happens. Most expect, however, he will be redshirting if possible.
Starting Experience: Weatherford is the only one of the four quarterbacks that has started. He has 31 starts to his credit but he's also, quite possibly, the most undecorated quarterback FSU has had in the modern era with no appearances on an ACC team with the exception of being named to the All-ACC Freshman team in 2005. His 0-6 record against Florida and Clemson hasn't helped his legacy either.
Playing Experience: Ponder's debut came in a hostile environment against Virginia Tech. However, the redshirt freshman, showed an incredible amount of poise, leading the Seminoles back from a 20-6 deficit into a 21-20 advantage before the momentum shifted again. Despite the loss, many were impressed with Ponder's showing given the situation. Richardson made his debut against Alabama running in a "Wildcat" formation and later appeared in the Virginia Tech game and in the Music City Bowl at several positions.
What to Look For: Another open competition. As much as Bowden is supposedly enamored with Drew, his influence isn't enough to get a green light from Jimbo Fisher. Fisher, the head coach-in-waiting, has to make a splash this season and win ball games. I think he believes Weatherford is very servicable, but moreso as a mature backup to Ponder. Keep an eye on the first two weeks of camp and if Fisher hasn't named a starter yet, expect to see Ponder trotting out with the offense on opening week.