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FSU Football Practice Report: Spring Ball is finally here

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Only 180 days until kickoff.

It was a frigid morning in Tallahassee, and the Florida State Seminoles opened their first spring practice to the media and public. Before practice started, we had the opportunity to hear from QB James Blackman, DT Marvin Wilson, and head coach Willie Taggart. You can hear what they said by clicking each link above.

The atmosphere was different this year, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The highly criticized music that blasted through the Seminoles’ speakers at practice last year was gone, except during water breaks. Make what you want of that, but I know I won’t miss the sound of “Knuck if you Buck” signaling the start of every practice last year. In all seriousness, though, Florida State appeared focused, determined, and motivated to work hard, as they quickly divided into their individual units.

Offense

As expected, QB James Blackman was taking first-team reps, while Nolan McDonald was with the second-team. Florida State is still waiting to hear from the NCAA if Louisville transfer Jordan Travis will get the necessary waiver to play immediately. While both backups struggled with accuracy, they showed signs of the ability to improve and be important reserves for the Seminoles. Blackman looked confident opening 7-on-7 drills by throwing a beautiful pass to WR Tamorrion Terry. While he struggled under pressure at times and was intercepted by Stanford Samuels, he was able to quickly bounce back instead of spiraling out of control. Most importantly, Blackman was his normal, uplifting self, acting as a team leader, and he appeared to be a stronger player in almost every aspect.

New offensive line coach Randy Clements spent the majority of his time working with the whole OL unit, focusing on speeding things up without neglecting technique. While the offensive line clearly has a long way to go, Clements took the time to pay attention to detail and explain the drills when a player seemed lost/confused. The starting offensive line consisted of: LT Jauan Williams, LG Brady Scott, C Baveon Johnson, RG Mike Arnold, and RT Landon Dickerson. The second-team was: LT Jalen Goss, LG Christian Armstrong, C Christian Meadows, RG Dontae Lucas, and RT Abdul Bello. Transfer Jay Williams also worked at times with the second-team at left tackle. Meadows had a rough time adjusting to center and was later replaced by walk-on Andrew Boselli.

Florida State was unable to get a waiver for WR Coach David Kelly. While he’s still the Seminoles’ 10th assistant, he’ll move to an off-field position as the Seminoles’ recruiting coordinator. Ron Dugans replaced Kelly and was the most vocal coach of opening day. He appeared to enjoy working with his new team of wide receivers, while adjusting nicely to life with his alma mater.

After spending time with the wide receivers last year, walk-on Deonte Sheffield returned to the running back group. RB Cam Akers worked with the first-team, while Anthony Grant was with the second-team. Khalan Laborn made his return to the practice field after suffering a season-ending injury early last season. His injury does not appear to be bothering him, but he still didn’t participate in contact drills.

Injured/Not observed

OL Cole Minshew was not observed today.

OL Landon Dickerson’s ankle is still heavily taped.

Defense

Multiple changes were made to the Seminoles’ secondary: Hamsah Nasirildeen worked with the linebackers (at the Star position), while Jaiden Lars-Woodbey worked with the defensive backs. Nasirildeen spent his last two seasons playing safety, while Woodbey played at star last year. Woodbey is also wearing No. 6 now after previously sporting No. 20.

Samuels and Samuel on opposite ends? That might get confusing. The starting secondary appeared to be CB Stanford Samuels III, S Levonta Taylor, S Cyrus Fagan, and CB Asante Samuel. Taylor has previously played cornerback, but it seems he could be shifted to safety this year. The first-team linebackers were Nasirildeen, Leonard Warner, and DeCalon Brooks. The first-team defensive line consisted of DE Joshua Kaindoh, DT Marvin Wilson, DT Cory Durden, and DE Janarius Robinson.

Early enrollees Akeem Dent and Raymond Woodie Jr. worked with the second-team at safety. Dent stood out among the unit with his aggressive play and natural ability to track the ball. When matched against his brother, Adarius Dent, Akeem won the rep by breaking up the pass. He’ll be a player to watch for in the Seminoles’ Spring Game and could easily make an immediate impact this season.

The second-team cornerbacks appeared to be A.J. Lytton and Kyle Meyers. The second-team linebackers looked like Adonis Thomas, Dontavious Jackson, and Emmett Rice. The second team defensive line appeared to be DE Xavier Peters, DT Robert Cooper, DT Malcolm Lamar, and DE Dennis Briggs.

True freshman LB Jaleel McRae also flashed during practice, almost intercepting Blackman.

Overall, the early enrollees appeared to be driven to make an immediate impact on the field. Their efforts as new Seminoles were encouraging and exciting to watch.

Injured/ Not observed

Jaiden Lars-Woodbey was limited with a shoulder injury.

LB Dontavious Jackson was present, but appeared to be limited.

DT Cedric Wood had a cast on his hand.

LB Emmett Rice has a cast on his right hand.

Isaiah Bolden left practice with an apparent arm injury, but was working with the cornerbacks before getting hurt.

Special Teams

Another coaching change: Coach Taggart said Mark Snyder will be coaching special teams and helping out with the linebackers this year. He coached defensive ends last year. It seems FSU plans to be more multiple in its fronts this season, as guys like Peters, Robinson, and Briggs were dropping from their normal DE spots at times to give the ’Noles more of a 3-4 look.

D.J. Matthews, Keyshawn Helton, and Woodie Jr. worked on fielding punts today.

Practice will be open to the public, once again, Wednesday at 9 am. Members of the media will have the opportunity to talk to several players before the beginning of practice.