I am relatively new to Tomahawk Nation, but certainly not new to Florida State football. With all of the genuinely good analysis of the offensive line and defensive line going on around here I wanted to talk about a glory position. There is no other position that evokes such prima donna behavior and scout conjecture as the wide receiver position. There is something about Peter Warrick juking somebody out of their shoes, or Randy Moss running like a gazelle that is gorgeous to watch. However, lately WR has become a hot button position at Florida State both because of on the field production and off the field problems. So where are we at today compared to where we were last year? What do the receivers we have do well, and where do they fall short?
Greg Carr- Everyone knows Greg Carr because he flew on to the scene as a lanky 6’6’’ freshman who caught jump balls all over the place when that was really all our offense consisted of*. He caught 9 TD that season, then went on to have 9 more total the other three years. He sort of reinvented himself as a possession receiver who was more reliable as a senior. We’ll get to this later, but at the end of the season I was not upset to see him leave.
*Hyperbole, sort of.
Corey Surrency- One of the reasons Greg Carr became less of a down the field outside threat was because a lot of these balls were intended for Corey Surrency, our transfer from El Camino Community College. Truly athletically gifted (we called him Predator because of his aggressive approach and long dreadlocks). Corey doesn’t run good routes or create a great deal of separation; however he can leap over almost anyone. He isn't gifted with good hands at all. I expected that another off-season with a D1 coaching staff, and more practice with Ponder would smooth some of these problems, I was truly excited to see him lineup this year. He was not granted an extra year because of playing semi-professional football while trying to get his life together. The NCAA is awesome.
Preston Parker- Most of you know Preston Parker. He carried this offense on his shoulders two years ago. He is an exciting playmaker who gets open well, can be used in multiple sets and at multiple positions. He had a down year comparatively last year, although he showed flashes of his pre-haircut* self. He was arrested again because he was drunk and high while driving through the McDonalds on Tennessee St. and fell asleep in the drive-thru. He was dismissed from the team afterwards. This was a big blow to the team obviously.
So coming out of the 2008 season we expected Surrency and Parker to be a big part of our team. Which creates problems all over the place; and we have seen this is not the only turmoil coach Dawsey’s group has gone through.
Bert Reed: Let’s get this one out of the way. Bert stepped in and played slot receiver last year as a RS Freshman and played very well. He has elite speed, he cuts well and has good vision with the ball in his hands. There is a lot to be excited about with Bert Reed. However because of the departure of Parker and Surrency he will be asked to play a more traditional WR role on the outside, a role he is embracing but may not fit his 5-11* frame.
In the realm of our WR corps he is the absolute least of our worries.
Taiwan Easterling: Taiwan has a similar frame to Reed, but is not the same receiver in the least. Taiwan doesn’t have Reed’s top end speed but has elite quickness, and most of all elite elusiveness*. If there is every any reason to doubt Rival’s ratings it is that he was thought of so much less than Reed. He was our best receiver last year on tape (please do not tell me other people had more yards) and looked to be a budding star. Much like Reed he doesn’t really convert to the outside but his skill set fits so perfect into what we ask our slot receivers to do it is truly a perfect fit. He tore his Achilles tendon after the season. We are not sure when he will be able to return to play as Achilles are tricky injuries, but he is progressing ahead of original schedule. The problem is his two biggest skills, his elusiveness and quickness are hurt the most.
* I don’t remember the first guy tackling him at all last season.
Jarmon Fortson- Fortson is a scout’s dream. 6’3’’ 220 and solid. He runs good routes and is more than athletic enough to play on this level. He evokes the name of some of the game’s best when you talk to people who have seen him play because he is aggressive and will go over the middle. I have high hopes for him, but he still will have to prove it because he is young and doesn’t have much experience with just 8 receptions.
Richard Goodman- Missed all of 2008 after a middling career before a promising beginning to 2007 that ended in a broken leg. He is suspended indefinitely because of a fight in the union, and will absolutely have to miss the first 3 games due to the academic scandal. He has a promising body and good hands, but who knows when and how much he will see the field.
Rod Owens- Owens is a very fast player, however I have yet to see any WR dependent skills that truly set him apart at the D1 level. His athleticism and separation leave a lot to be desired and I honestly think he is just a “guy” as scouts would say. Good enough to play football in college, not good enough to stand out.
Avis Commack- Avis is underrated in some ways, but not in others if that makes sense. He was a 3star recruit coming out of high school (so was Rodney Hudson). But what that doesn’t tell you is that he has one truly elite tool, which is what Owens lacks to help create buzz around him. Avis has amazing body control when he is in the air and when cutting. This means that he doesn’t have to be the fastest guy on the field because he will make tough catches and get out of his breaks extremely quick. It is good that he possesses those skills because he is not the fastest guy but at 6’4’’ I think he can turn into an excellent receiver.
Louis Givens: Another small WR, only 5 8’’ with elite speed. He saved the Miami game on special teams. He has serious issues with his hands. He should be given a scholarship. I don’t ever see him as more than a 5th receiver/ Special Teams guy on this level.
Cameron Wade- Supposedly working well in off-season. Huge target at 6’6’’, rumors are he may be lost to attrition before making wake on the field.
Josh Gehres- Saw a lot of him when I worked at Lincoln. Not a gifted athlete, but he runs good crisp routes, gets out of his breaks, will block, and has terrific hands.
I loved the Wide Receivers we brought in this season, and I think they fit with the receivers we already have going forward. I thought Willie Downs was one of the 5 best players in the state last year. Obviously he did not qualify and I don’t ever expect to see him at FSU. He may have been moving to Safety, but he was announced as a WR at the big recruiting dinner bonanza, and I can’t imagine losing that playmaker on offense.
Rodney Smith- He is big, like real big 6’6’’, over 200 lbs. He is an elite talent and I think there is a decent chance that we see Rodney Smith on the field this year, maybe in the Corey Surrency role. (I may discuss not personnel but what our receivers are asked to do schematically in another post, but I am not really a fan of the lob pass that Jeff Bowden loved and caught steam with Greg Carr’s freshman year.)
Willie Haulstead- Another big, elite recruit. He is about 3 inches shorter than Rodney, but he is faster and has a more solid build. He can go over the middle, he reportedly has good hands and above average athleticism.
Xavier Rhodes- I believe he will play defense, so I will leave him off for now.
I'd love to see where others differ from me in their analysis of the recievers. Think Bert Reed is definitely our best? Think I'm selling Owens and Goodman short? They are our most up in the air positional grouping, so I'm excited to see how they perform.