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FSU football returning fewest experienced running backs, receivers under Fisher

Cause for concern?

NCAA Football: Florida State Spring Game
Jacques Patrick
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

With spring football squarely in the past, the attention of Florida State football fans has turned entirely to the rapidly approaching 2017 season. Of course, the past can be an interesting tool in predicting the future— unless there’s no comparison. And that’s exactly the case with how inexperienced the Seminole skill-position players are heading into another season under the leadership of Jimbo Fisher.

That’s because at no point in Fisher’s tenure with the ’Noles has he returned running backs with fewer rushing yards and receivers with fewer reception yards the year before. The simple reality is that while many are lamenting the loss Dalvin Cook, the program’s all-time leading rusher, there’s even more to be concerned about due to the lack of experienced ballcarriers replacing him. The returning scholarship RBs (Jacques Patrick, Ryan Green, Amir Rasul, and Johnathan Vickers.) combined for just 517 yards on the ground in 2016. In every other year at FSU, Fisher has had more returning previous-year yardage from just one player: Cook in 2016 and 2015, Karlos Williams in 2014, Devonta Freeman in 2013 and 2012, Chris Thompson in 2011, and Jermaine Thomas in 2010.

Of course, many are already praising freshman tailback Cam Akers as the next coming of Cook— time will tell if he’s able to carry the load as a first-year player or if others step up.

Out wide, it’s the same story. FSU’s returning receivers of Nyqwan Murray, Auden Tate, and Da’Vante Phillips totaled just 883 yard through the air last year, another number lower than any other for incumbent WRs since Fisher’s been the head coach in Tallahassee. The good news is that the roles of both Murray and Tate increased as last season wore on. Still, as is the case with the running backs, their numbers from last season won’t be enough. Translation: players who’ve yet to contribute thus far simply must step up.