In the wake of the Christo Kourtzidis transfer news, Florida State fans are left wondering what will happen at the tight end position, and to the offense as a whole. Let's review what the Seminoles have at the position, and what Florida State can do. The question is particularly pressing given that Kevin Haplea, the top reserve, tore his ACL over the summer.
Nick O'Leary, a junior tight end and returning starter, is fully healthy after escaping death in this horrifying motorcycle crash (SHOCKING VIDEO HERE). O'Leary isn't a great player, but he's not bad, either. Jimbo Fisher recently said that O'Leary weighed in at 247 pounds, which is consistent with his listed weight on the official roster, and not considered to be an exaggeration bu the coach. O'Leary's newfound size could help him with blocking, which is sorely needed.
Jeremy Kerr, a true freshman from the Tampa area, is in great shape at 254 pounds. He should be able to immediately help with blocking, but his pass catching is a mystery and it's a longshot that he could be counted on in the receiving game.
That's it. Those are the two healthy scholarship tight ends listed on the roster.
Florida State was already planning to use Jonathan Wallace, a red-shirt senior offensive lineman and former tight end on the goal line and in short yardage this year, as a sixth (and eligible) offensive lineman. Those plans are further cemented now for the 6'7, 290-pounder.
Jimbo Fisher said Monday that there were no plans to change positions for any of FSU's players.
Now, the plans not to change could change.
Dan Hicks is the obvious choice to move, as he previously was moved to tight end in 2012 before suffering a knee injury, before moving back to defensive end for 2013 -- the position he played during his first three years. Hicks would seem like a possibility, but only if the defensive end spot, which is the biggest question mark on the team entering fall camp, is okay with out him. That would take a lot of players exceeding expectations, and soon, so a move by Hicks seems unlikely.
Freshman Ro'Derrick Hoskins played tight end and linebacker in high school, and indeed some believed he was better at tight end than linebacker in high school. But at 6'2 and 216 pounds, he would be unlikely to make an impact as a freshman. If Hoskins is moved, it will be with an eye toward the future.
The likely solution? Cross-train a few defenders in case of emergency. It's something FSU fans don't want to think about, but it must be done just in case.
The most obvious solution, and one that FSU was already going to employ after Haplea's injury, is to run more sets with three receivers. FSU has three receivers in which it is confident (Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin), and a few others who have potential. The three-wide sets could involve two backs, or a tight end and one back.
If senior fullback Chad Abram proves to be a better blocker than expected, FSU could also run more I-formation.
More three-receiver sets could also mean more running from quarterback Jameis Winston, and more run fakes from him, from spread sets to keep the defense honest.
The sets and styles of Florida State's offense will probably be determined largely by health in 2013.