Damn if he don't look like Tra Thomas. Photo via Tomahawk Nation
This is the 11th in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 47 days until FSU football, and that's how many are left on the list. That means no off days. Oh, and these are not in any specific order.
Cameron Erving | 6'5, 304 | RS-Soph | Offensive Tackle
Diamond in the rough find out of South Georgia...earned a three-star ranking by Rivals and was a two-star prospect according to Scout.com...unheralded in the preseason, closed the year with a No. 74 ranking from Georgia Rivals Postseason Top 75...No. 81 defensive tackle according to ESPN...piled up a whopping 98 tackles as a senior; a high number for an interior lineman...tackle totals included 48 solo stops...selected FSU over offers from Clemson and Georgia Southern...born August 23, 1992. -- Seminoles.com Bio
The Countdown57: Cason Beatty, Punter
56: Terrence Brooks, Safety
55: Dan Hicks, Tight Ends
54: Clint Trickett, Quarterback
53: Rashad Greene, Receiver
52: Austin Barron, Center
51: Everett Dawkins, Defensive Tackle
50: Tank Carradine, Defensive End
49: Devonta Freeman, Running Back
48: Christian Green, Receiver
47: Cameron Erving, Offensive Tackle
Just a sophomore, Cameron Erving has already had an extremely interesting career at Florida State.
It started with his recruitment. It's not often that a small-town newspaper scoops us, Rivals, Scout, etc. But that's what happened, as FSU managed to keep this one pretty quiet. There were rumors that the 'Noles were looking at a kid who was very raw and under the radar, but that's all we had heard on him if I recall.
Erving is unrated by every single service on the planet. There are no pictures of him and no video. He doesn't have a facebook and doesn't appear to have a myspace. But he is 6'5, 285. He must have really impressed FSU's coaches during his early spring visit to earn an offer at this early stage in the game.
I can remember being surprised that the staff took his commitment so early (August) in the process. But they were right.
And so Erving came to Tallahassee as a defensive tackle. He would red-shirt in 2010, with his most notable incident being a bad unsportsmanlike penalty from the sideline.
The one thing we stressed with Erving is that he was really young. Erving is entering his third season at Florida State and won't turn 20 for more than a month. With someone of that age and size, it often takes a while for them to grow into and become accustomed to their body. For comparison purposes, FSU has some third year players who will turn 22 this fall.
And that's what happened with Erving. He was always athletic, but he was plenty impressive as a sophomore because he learned to use and control that big body. As the No. 3 defensive tackle after Jacobbi McDaniel went down, Erving shared time with Everett Dawkins, Anthony McCloud and Timmy Jernigan.
One thing about his body that everyone will agree with is that it looks like the body of an offensive tackle. And that's where he'll line up in 2012.
It wasn't the first time that FSU had asked Erving to switch:
"I feel like if these coaches, who do this for a living, feel like I can come in and make an impact at a certain position, then I feel like I have to look into it," Erving said. He was asked by his coaching staff to switch to the offensive line last season, too, but he rejected the idea.
Erving also gave some excellent quotes in the spring about his realization that he has the body of an offensive tackle and that offensive tackles have longer and more lucrative careers in the NFL than their defensive tackle counterparts.
The move was surprising to many, but it makes a lot of sense.
Erving started out at defensive tackle because that's where Florida State needed help. But in the two recruiting classes since, Florida State brought in two five-stars (Timmy Jernigan & Eddie Goldman) and three four-stars (Nile Lawrence-Stample, Derrick Mitchell, Justin Shanks) at his position. Losing Erving isn't exactly leaving a hole at defensive tackle.
What makes Erving a fit at left tackle, aside from Florida State's obvious need at the position? Length. Check out the photo. Erving has excellent reach and huge paws.
Erving's move to offensive tackle was a baptism by fire, having to compete daily in practice against Florida State All-American defensive end Brandon Jenkins, who thankfully for FSU fans, elected to return for his senior year.
Reports from closed practices had Erving faring well against Jenkins, which is to say that he was not routinely dominated. He bolstered that sentiment in the spring game by showing a promising slide and using his length to keep rushers at bay.
Here are Erving's thoughts on the spring game:
"I feel like I played pretty well. It's still a process, but I just took my time and I slowed things down today. I listened to my coaches and I feel like I did pretty well."
On playing against All-American Brandon Jenkins
"It's been real intense. Brandon is a great player, he has established himself; going against him every day just gets me better all the time. It gives me needed reps to go against the people we are going to be playing against during the season. It's been real intense and very competitive but he is always helpful at the end of the day."
How does it feel to play football again?
"It's overwhelming to get back out here and playing football again. It was fun, very fun. It was good; we tried not to focus on the uniforms (FSU was permitted to wear all-white and all-garnet) too much. We really enjoyed it and thank Coach Fisher for it. It was good, it was fun. There was a good bit of trash talking on the field but by the end of the day everybody was giving each other their props."
Offensive tackle is the position that takes the most natural ability to play because it is the position protecting the quarterback's blind side against the best rusher from the opposition. It's also perhaps the easiest to learn, because it typically requires the least coordination with other linemen, as the tight end typically aligns to the opposite side.
The best way to describe Erving's move to left tackle is 'promising.'
A guy with Erving's combination of frame, athleticism and inexperience makes predictions quite difficult. He could flop. Or he could be the best left tackle Florida State has had in a decade and bolt for the NFL after the year.
That the latter possibility exists is exciting. That the former must also be noted is scary.
I don't think it is too early to declare the move to offensive tackle to be correct. I do, however, think it a tad early to say that Erving is the next superstar lineman at Florida State.
I expect Erving will be a solid starter for Florida State in 2012. I think he'll mix disappointing moments with plays that hint at what could be in 2013 and beyond. Erving has the build and accompanying athleticism that cannot be taught. And his youth means that much of that potential is still yet to be tapped.