Florida State Spring Game 2014: What to Watch For

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some things to keep an eye on during Saturday's spring game inside Doak Campbell Stadium.

With the Florida State Seminoles set to take Bobby Bowden field Saturday afternoon for their annual Garnet and Gold game at 3 p.m., we wanted to give you a guideline of things to look out for.

After compiling a perfect record and a National Championship in 2013, the Noles lost a core of seniors to graduation and the draft leaving questions to be answered.

And after a full spring camp, Florida State has suffered injuries, but non substantial enough to keep players out into the fall. And that's the key.

Here is the list of players that you would like to see but won't get the chance, whether it's due to injury or just plain precaution.


Karlos Williams (precaution)

Mario Pender (banged up)

Ryan Green (shoulder)

Dalvin Cook (shoulder)

Hell, pretty much the entire backfield, similar to the last spring game.

Nick O'Leary (dirt bike accident)

*Possibly/likely Bobby Hart


Ronald Darby  -  *Darby's is still healing from an injury and has absolutely nothing to prove, so let the other guys get some reps.*

Nile Lawrence-Stample (shoulder)

Markus Eligwe (foot)

Nate Andrews and Tyler Hunter are likely additions to this list, too. Hunter, who has worn a non-contact jersey throughout spring camp doesn't need to take any chances on Saturday, as he continues to heal from a neck injury. Andrews dressed out the last couple of practices but was limited after missing more than a week. Both Hunter and Andrews are trusted by the staff, so their absence gives plenty of playing time for the other guys. If you see them, I expect a diminished role on Saturday for precautionary reasons.

Now let's talk about things to be excited about.

The Defense


With guys like Ronald Darby and possibly Tyler Hunter and Nate Andrews missing from Saturday's roster, in steps a number of eager players ready to prove their worth.

Trey Marshall is probably the most exciting of the bunch and most-definitely has the highest ceiling. Recruited to Florida State as a guy that could eventually take over the role previously held by Lamarcus Joyner, Marshall can do it all. He has tremendous athleticism and speed. And OH, the instincts. During Saturday's game, you'll likely have the opportunity to catch Marshall playing a number of roles in the secondary.


Lamarcus Brutus is a redshirt junior, who up to this point, has mainly been a member of special teams for Florida State. But he has made quite the impression on the coaching staff during spring camp. Look for Brutus to make an attempt at standing out Saturday as he fights for a bigger role on this year's defense.

Nick Waisome has been the first team corner opposite P.J. Williams all spring with Ronald Darby out. Waisome, who was the starter during Mark Stoops' final year, was passed up last season due to his size, or lack thereof. Look for Waisome to make a statement as well, wherever it may be directed.


Losing guys like Telvin Smith and Christian Jones is never easy, whether you want to talk about leadership or the ability to lead one of the best defenses in the country in tackles, but the Noles are stacked at the position and have even more talent on the way come fall camp.

Terrance Smith is returning after last year's run and will be a mainstay at that position for the Noles in 2014, but there are other chomping at the bit for a chance at a bigger role. Markus Eligwe, who has had a tremendous spring, will not be playing on Saturday. But there are three guys in EJ Levenberry, Matthew Thomas and Reggie Northrup that are all ready for that chance. This should be a fun group to watch on Saturday, as they can do so many different things.

Defensive line

Timmy Jernigan. 'Nuff said.

Nile Lawrence-Stample, who won't play, and Eddie Goldman have had a great spring camp, but they still have a ways to go. Goldman, who at the 4th quarter drills was clearly out of shape, has gotten himself together and seems to be playing at a high level. And Lawrence-Stample was somebody I've given high marks to throughout camp, so I'm disappointed we won't be able to see him.

Desmond Hollin is a guy that will get reps on the interior of that line with Lawrence-Stample's absence, and Hollin has proven to be worthy. After a strong spring, Hollin continues to improve on a daily basis as he strives for a role in this year's defense.

Keith Bryant is a guy that a lot of Florida State fans are excited about and rightfully so. Bryant is coach Odell's boy from everything I've seen, and he takes every opportunity he can get to coach that kid up. Bryant is quick-footed and strong but still lacks some of the necessary technique. You'll get a chance to see him on Saturday; watch closely.

Oh, and Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher are fun to watch, too.



First and foremost, watch Jameis Winston. Watch the dedication and determination he'll have on Saturday, all while juggling the spring game and a baseball series in Atlanta. Winston will be flying back to Tallahassee following Friday's baseball game and then flying back to Atlanta following the spring game. Has to be exhausting.

Watch for Sean Maguire and Jonathan Franklin as they continue to fight for that second spot. Although I'm one of few who thinks Franklin should make the switch to wide receiver, the kid has electric speed and is really fun to watch. So enjoy!

Offensive line

Everyone's basically healthy!

Bobby Hart missed practice for the first time on Thursday, so I'm not necessarily expecting him to play, especially with all of the cross-training that's been going on with the offensive line. Tre Jackson also missed a good chunk of spring but has been back and fully participating this last week.

The Florida State offensive line does not have traditional depth, not unlike your typical NFL offensive line. They want the five best on the field. That's why you cross-train.

With that said, I think there's a good chance you see some of that on Saturday. Cam Erving has been getting a lot of reps at center, with Josue Matias getting reps at left tackle.

The newbie is JUCO transfer Kareem Are. He's a BIG body and very athletic for his size, and they seem to really like him at left guard. Make sure to keep an eye out for Are on Sturday as he continues to impress the staff.

Running backs

They're all out, so in steps full-back Freddie Stevenson. Stevenson will have the chance to carry the ball quite a bit on Saturday, not unlike Chad Abram during the last spring game.


As far as I know, Rashad Greene will play Saturday, but I can't imagine any reason he should get hit so I'm hoping/expecting that I'm not alone in that thought, as Greene obviously has nothing to prove.

But you can look for a number of fairly new faces catching balls on Saturday, too. Bobo Wilson has had a great spring camp,, and so has Isaiah Jones. Expect to see a lot from those two alongside the veterans Scooter Haggins and Christian Green.

Haggins, who missed some of spring camp, has been back and participating but still limited. I'll be interested to see how much he plays on Saturday. And Green will again be on the radar of FSU fans as he is known for incredible athleticism, but has never really panned out.

Tight End

With Nick O'Leary missing time after his dirt bike accident, Kevin Haplea has stepped in and gotten valuable reps at his position. Haplea, who redshirted in 2013 due to a knee injury, is still not 100% but improves every day. He will get a lot of reps on Saturday, and I think you can expect to see him catch some balls, too.


This is probably where graduation and the NFL draft left the Seminoles the weakest, but they're not lacking. Look for Jameis Winston's leadership to shine through on the offensive side of the ball, pushing his young receivers to get on the right page. And on the defensive side, look for young Jalen Ramsey to assume Telvin Smith's role. Ramsey is not afraid to be vocal, passionate and determined as a leader on the football field, and I think he can fill that void left by Smith.

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