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State of the Position: FSU’s Wide Receivers

Outside the numbers, inside your hearts.

Florida State v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

In our Florida State postseason series reviewing the Seminoles’ tumultuous 2018 campaign, we are working through each position group, taking a look back at what was as well as glancing forward to what the future may hold. Up now: the wide receivers.

2018’s Personnel

Florida State came into the 2018 season with a wide receiver group full of talent, from speedy slot receivers to tall 50-50 ball winners. It was known before the season that the offensive unit would live and die with the big uglies up front, as all units do. Receivers benefit from a strong running game, and vice versa.

The veterans of David Kelly’s receiving corps were upperclassmen headlined by senior Nyqwan Murray (“Noonie”), who joined fourth-year redshirt junior George Campbell and junior Keith Gavin. Murray was the only returning veteran who made a significant impact in previous years, having been a favored target of Deondre Francois in the 2016 season. D.J. Matthews appeared sparingly in Jimbo Fisher’s final year, but his importance grew as the season progressed.

Murray is the known departure from the draft-eligible group, having exhausted his eligibility. Gavin is very unlikely to be drafted, and Campbell even less so. Younger players who may depart the squad via transfer include Warren Thompson and D’Marcus Adams. These two are based purely on speculation from Instagram posts, because this is how news is communicated now.

Importantly, Willie Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense and its lethal simplicity were expected to be able to bring younger players into the fold quickly. That they did.

Trinidad Terry Turnt Up

Tamorrion Terry took advantage of the new offensive system implemented by Taggart and former offensive coordinator Walt Bell. Terry’s size, length, and ability to win contested catches made him a favored target of Francois.

Unable to break through a redshirt in Jimbo Fisher’s final year at FSU, “Trinidad” Terry broke out, leading the team in receiving yards, touchdowns, yards per catch, yards per target, and longest receptions. And some memorable moments.

Locked On “Noonie”

Francois spent much of the 2018 season locked on his favorite target, Murray. Murray was targeted 85 times, accounting for 34% of FSU’s targets this season. He ended up with just the third best yards per target, trailing leader Terry and runner up Keyshawn Helton, whose combined targets were just a hair higher than Murray’s.

Focus On Future

Losing Murray may benefit FSU’s passing offense, despite his obvious production. A strong slot receiver with play-breaking potential, Murray often became over targeted and led Francois to focus on him over other play-makers.

The explosive receivers for the future, aside from the established Terry, are Helton, Matthews, and Tre’shaun Harrison. Gavin has big play potential, but has inherited not only Christian Green’s number but his propensity to lose to the turf monster. 89 has found many ways not to reach the end zone, but still has the ability to do so.

Maurice Goolsby is the only current wide receiver commitment in FSU’s 2019 class. Florida State missed on in-state studs Frank Ladson to Clemson and John Dunmore to Penn State. Fortunately, the 2019 roster remains loaded with talent.

Promise Remains

Florida State will return a receiver group that is both experienced and explosive. As discussed on this website and our accompanying Nolecast, their success will depend upon the offensive line moving out of the bottom 10th percentile of power five units and into a below average range.

A key veteran in Noonie will be lost, but with Terry, Matthews, and others able to make plays, Florida State is rich in pass-catching talent. FSU’s next offensive coordinator will have plenty of clay to mold out wide.