We saw it for the first time during spring practice: Jalen Ramsey back deep, returning kickoffs for FSU. The move makes sense; after leading the country in kick return average in 2013 (28.16 YPR), the unit struggled last season, coming in 88th nationally (19.82 YPR). Ramsey would offer a lot of athleticism.
There's certainly no confusing Ramsey with his fellow deep man, Kermit Whitfield. The former is 6-1, 202, the latter just 5-8, 184. But they do have one thing in common: they each wear No. 8.
It's stuck out at practice. Two No. 8s back deep. It's not something you see often-- and for good reason: it's illegal, as it puts two players from the same team with the same number on the field together. So what's to be done? Neither player can claim seniority, as Whitfield and Ramsey came in together and are both juniors.
We got our answer today, as Whitfield informed media members that Ramsey will, in fact, don a different number on kick returns. Ramsey will still wear his No. 8 on defense, but change into another number for returns. This was confirmed by Florida State sports information staff, although we do not yet know what Ramsey's alternate number will be. It will be his third number in as many years as a 'Nole (he wore 13 as a freshman, when 8 was claimed by Timmy Jernigan).
The fact that FSU has addressed the jersey situation firmly establishes that Ramsey as a returner is not just an experiment-- at this point, in fact, it looks more like a reality.
Obviously, Ramsey will have plenty of time to change for returns to start the game or half. Within games, he'll need to change up following scores by the opposition; TV timeouts should afford him ample time to do so, but he'll have to hustle when networks don't go to a break.
Logistics aside, is this a good idea? Fans have clamored about the possibility of Ramsey as a returner, especially since he showed some spark there during the spring game. But there are mostly certainly risks. When carrying the ball, Ramsey will be the target of 11 defenders screaming down the field at him. Even as a lead blocker for Whitfield, those defenders will be hurling their bodies at him in an attempt to disrupt the Seminole return. Is it really worth it to risk the leader of the defense in such a high-risk situation? FSU used leading receiver Rashad Greene to return punts last season, and he managed to stay healthy; evidently, Florida State thinks the same can apply to Ramsey.