Chad Abram has starred on special teams to date in his Florida State career. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
This is the 12th in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 46 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.
Chad Abram | 6'0, 235 | Junior | Fullback
Debrale Smiley | 5'11, 230 | RS-SR | Fullback
Background (Courtesy school bio)
Committed to Florida State in March 2009...held a three-star ranking from both Rivals and Scout.com...No. 64 player in state by Rivals...No. 13 safety prospect according to ESPN...a standout on special teams with a knack for blocking kicks...blocked five kicks and collected five interceptions as a junior for the Red Devils...missed first three games of his senior season with hand injury...credited with 30 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass breakups...Florida Super 75 selection by the Florida Times-Union newspaper, where he ranked No. 5 among safeties...No. 48 rated player on Bill Buchalter's Florida Top 100, where he ranked as the No. 4 safety...first team All-Polk selection...born May 22, 1991.
Enrolled at FSU in January 2010 after taking a redshirt during his second year at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College..attended high school and Itawamba with fellow Seminole Anthony McCloud...like McCloud, signed with Seminoles in 2008 before taking path to junior college...burst on the scene with 180 yards on 30 carries in his first start at Itawamba in 2008...finished the season with 569 yards on 102 carries (5.6 ypc) and two touchdowns...ranked as the No. 73 prospect in the country according to Allen Wallace of SuperPrep JUCO 100...Thomasville Times-Enterprise's Offensive Player of the Year at Thomas County Central in 2007...the Yellow Jackets had a perfect regular season record during Smiley's senior season before losing in the class AAAA semifinal...all-state selection...selected to play in the GACA North-South All-Star game...set records at Central for touchdowns in a season (35) and career (81), as well as rushing yards in a season (2,028)...born November 4, 1988.
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
46: Chad Abram, Fullback &
Debrale Smiley, Fullback
The backup fullback deserves a spot in the countdown. But both of today's players have a chance to earn the job.
Abram came to Florida State as a safety and special teams maven. He took very well to the weight program, and lifted his way out of the safety position. Then, being a team player, he moved to the fullback position.
Abram did not play much last season on the offensive side. He had just two carries for five total yards.
He did, however, play a lot on special teams. Abram is a physical presence on the kick return, punt return and kickoff teams. The only special teams cover/return phase on which he does not start is punt team.
He'll battle Debrale Smiley, the lovable fifth-year senior from Thomas County Central High, who came to Tallahassee by way of Itawamba Junior College.
Smiley had worked himself into better shape in each of his years in Tallahassee. And while he never lived up to the legendary recruiting status that a top highlight film brought, he's done enough to remain on the roster. In 2011, Smiley rushed 6 times for 14 yards and a score, though none in meaningful time.
I'm not blowing smoke when I say that these two have a chance for legitimate playing time in 2012. It has less to do with them than it does with the running back position.
I'm not trying to say that the situation in the backfield is grim. Rather, I am saying that it is uncertain. Chris Thompson and Devonta Freeman have battled back and other injuries, while Mario Pender has also had injury issues. And Pender and James Wilder Jr. have yet to prove that they can be dependable and consistently do the right thing on and off the field.
That leaves the slimmed-down Lonnie Pryor, his first three years in Tallahassee spent at fullback, as a potential candidate to receive more carries. And if the starting fullback is getting tailback reps, the backup fullback will suddenly receive some starting reps at fullback. How many reps the winner of the reserve fullback role competition will receive is still TBD.