Florida State football kicks off on Labor Day at Pitt. Tomahawk Nation previews the season up until that date by analyzing every key player and issue facing the 2013 Seminoles.
#21 Chris Casher | RS Freshman | Defensive End | 6'4 260
PERSONAL:Rated as the 23rd-best player in the 2012 class by ESPNU...Under Armour All-American...top 50 ranking nationally by Rivals (36) and 247Sports (49)...ESPNU 150 member...consensus top 10 prospect at defensive end...ESPN and Rivals has him as the nation's No. 3 DE, Scout has him at No. 7 and 247Sports at No. 8...five-star recruit from Scout...four-star prospect according to Rivals and 247Sports...ranked in the top five in Alabama by ESPN (2), Rivals (3) and 247Sports (5)...another key recruit for the Seminoles from Mobile...joins 2011 signee Jacob Coker as the second straight FSU recruit out of Mobile...played tight end and defensive end in high school but has told FSU coaches he would like to play on the defensive side of the ball at FSU...dominated at the Tallahassee NFTC vying for MVP honors...ran a 4.63 in the 40-yard dash, a 4.29 in the 20-yard shuttle and has a 29.9 vertical jump...compiled 50 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 10 sacks as a junior at Faith Academy...also made 22 catches for 408 yards...transferred to Mobile Davidson High School to make sure he would graduate and play football at the next level...as a result he had to sit out his entire senior season... stayed very involved with Davidson's football team and became known as "Coach Casher" by the players due to the contributions he made to the team off the field...lifted weights at night and on the weekends to stay in shape...played his first football game in over a year at the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game...also played basketball...father was a Florida State fan when Casher was growing up...cousin of former Auburn All-SEC corner Larry Casher...chose Florida State as a junior over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Oregon and Tennessee among others.
Five star recruits are not often overlooked on National Signing Day. Typically a day of celebration in Tallahassee, filled with optimistic dreams of All America candidates and national championships, Chris Casher seemed to be almost forgotten on NSD in 2012. It's rare for a player who tallied 10 sacks and 19 TFL as a junior to fall between the cracks on the first Wednesday in February.
Chris Casher's situation as a recruit was unique. Considered unlikely to qualify to play in college while a high school junior, Casher transferred from Faith Academy to Davidson High School. Alabama's high school transfer rules meant his move between the two Mobile schools rendered him ineligible for his final year of high school football. While he was forced to man the sidelines as "Coach Casher" for his senior year, Casher was able to focus his efforts on his schoolwork. The strides Casher made as a high school senior enabled him to qualify academically, accept a scholarship and enroll at Florida State.
Fortunately for Casher, former Florida State assistant coach and ace Mobile recruiter Dameyune Craig stuck by him and assured his commitment to the 'Noles would be honored. The persistence of Craig helped keep Casher's verbal commitment despite overtures from in state powers Auburn and Alabama.
Many recruits suffer injuries that keep them from their senior year of high school football, and are often put behind in their development as a player because of the extended time away from the game. Unfortunately for Casher, he suffered a knee injury that forced him into a medical redshirt in his freshman season at Florida State.
Missing two years of football takes a toll on any player. Compound that with a joint injury, and a readjustment period can extend for longer than the player, coaches and fans would like.
This is where Chris Casher's career currently stands: in a state of extended readjustment.
There was a tentative nature to his play in the spring game. A player whose marquee as a high school player was his ability to speed rush and bend around the edge, Casher showed hesitancy often during the spring game. Pulling up in pursuit, trying to use more power moves to transition inside, taking some plays off, this did not look like the Casher whose junior tape propelled him to five star status. Even when he found himself with an arm under the outside of an offensive tackle, in position to use his speed, Casher had trouble getting himself to commit to the speed rush at times.
But there were flashes.
While Casher doesn't careen off the edge with the precision or explosion of upperclassmen Jenkins and Werner, he profiles to do so in the future. He also used spin moves at varying levels of effectiveness.
Casher's performance in the spring game echoes his current career status. A talented athlete with the potential to be an excellent edge rusher, he simply needs more time on the football field. Two idle years slowed his progress significantly, as expected.
The arrival of Jeremy Pruitt shifts the paradigm through which Casher's role is seen. In the Mark Stoops defense, Casher would be a traditional 4-3 defensive end, playing almost exclusively in a 3 point stance. Pruitt's new defense will likely see Casher used more as a Jack LB, an outside linebacker-defensive end hybrid. His role will still be primarily on the line of scrimmage, pass rushing often. The most visible difference will be standing up in a 2 point stance, as many of the responsibilities will be the same. The distinctions will often blur, as they have recently at Alabama.
Casher will compete with a talented but inexperienced group of players for playing time in the Florida State defense. Redshirt Senior Dan Hicks, Sophomore Mario Edwards Jr, and Freshman Demarcus Walker with JUCO transfer Desmond Hollin also competing for playing time. Senior linebacker Christian Jones has also received snaps as a defensive end, and his versatility will eat into many of the snaps the group competes for.
While battling this talented group of players, Casher will have to work through his own readjustment period in his quest to get on the field for the Noles defense. If he can continue to learn from coach Sal Sunseri and begin to trust his knee again, Casher can begin to blossom into the player he was projected to be during his successful high school junior year.