College football analyst Phil Steele has released this year's preseason all-conference teams, and Florida State's representation seems to forecast what many see as a possible "down year" for the Seminoles. That's because the 'Noles boast the smallest number of preseason All-ACC players selections they've had since Steele began conferring these honors.
Leading the way for FSU this year are first-teamers Dalvin Cook, Terrance Smith, Reggie Northrup, and Roberto Aguayo. The second team features Roderick Johnson and Jalen Ramsey, Travis Rudolph and DeMarcus Walker are included on the third team, and the fourth team has Ermon Lane, Chris Casher, and Trey Marshall.
That's a total of 11 selections, with four first-team nods. To put that in perspective: last year, Florida State also had 11 picks-- on the first team (with Jameis Winston, Karlos Williams, Rashad Greene, Nick O'Leary, Tre' Jackson, Cameron Erving, Mario Edwards, Jr., and P.J. Williams joining Smith, Aguayo, and kick returner Levonte "Kermit" Whitfield). The 'Noles had a total of 19 players named to the first through fourth teams, and the same number in 2013, with seven first-team players: Devonta Freeman, Bryan Stork, Timmy Jernigan, Christian Jones, and Lamarcus Joyner accompanied Greene and Jackson.
2012 saw a record 20 Seminoles named to Steele's All-ACC teams, with Brandon Jenkins named to the first team along with Xavier Rhodes, Dustin Hopkins, Joyner, and punt returner Greg Reid. In 2011, 17 FSU players made Steele's list, with first-team selections EJ Manuel, Andrew Datko, Nigel Bradham, and Shawn Powell joining Jenkins, Rhodes, and Hopkins.
But the preseason All-ACC team that most closely resembles this year's team, with regard to the representation of Florida State players, is the first one Steele drew up in 2010. That team featured 10 'Noles, and three on the first team: Christian Ponder, Rodney Hudson, and Reid returning punts.
So could 2015 FSU football resemble that 2010 team, as far as results are concerned? The 2010 team began ranked 20th in the AP Poll, went 10-4, including an Atlantic division -- but not ACC -- crown, along with a Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over South Carolina, to finish the season ranked 17th. Steele projects this year's team to start considerably higher in the AP Poll, but many think the final results could be quite similar.
FSU could certainly best this projection, but the preseason projection is good for one thing: it highlights the lack of proven talent on the squad.