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Newcomers impress in FSU football’s spring game

A positive initial public offering.

Louisville v Boston College Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Florida State’s annual Garnet and Gold Spring Game is in the books, as the Gold team topped the Garnet squad 27-21 on Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee. You’re not going to find a detailed description of how the events of the contest transpired here at Tomahawk Nation, because it doesn’t really matter. But we can still offer some notes, specifically regarding players that most fans were seeing in FSU colors for the first time.

And that begins with quarterback Jordan Travis. A native Floridian and ’Nole legacy, Travis (6’1, 200) transferred in from Louisville as a redshirt-freshman and will contribute to the QB depth behind starter James Blackman. Travis is one of three transfer QBS who will backup Blackman, along with Alex Hornibrook from Wisconsin and Wyatt Rector of Western Michigan.

Travis acquitted himself well. After disappointing early in spring practice, Travis started for the Garnet team, and while stats aren’t always exactly telling in a spring game, Travis’ sort of are. He went 22-28 with no touchdowns or interceptions.

And those numbers speak pretty accurately to what Travis showed: he wasn’t explosive, but he didn’t really hurt his team either. That’s never a bad combination from a backup QB— especially in Briles’ system, in which the signal-caller doesn’t have to be a generational talent to run the offense, unlike with some coaches.

For the most part, Travis got the ball out on time, making solid reads, taking what the defense gave him, and getting the ball to his playmakers. He doesn’t have a great arm, but he threw decisively and confidently. Of course, this is a lot easier when you know you’re not going to get hit— but if he gets rid of the ball that quickly in game situations, he should remain upright most of the time anyway. At times, Travis did hold the ball too long, a losing proposition with FSU’s OL.

Of course, the spring game is more a glimpse than an answer, and many questions remain about Travis. Primarily, whether or not the NCAA will ever decide if he gets his hardship waiver to be eligible this year.

The other newbies to make splashes were true freshmen on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Jaleel McRae (6’2, 230) turned heads in the middle— literally on a goaline hit in the first half. His instincts seem ahead of schedule for a true frosh LB, especially in pass coverage. Depth can be an issue for linebackers dropping into coverage, and on more than one occasion McRae displayed a nice feel for his depth, getting his hands on balls that would sail over a lesser backer’s head. McRae led the Garnet defense with 11 tackles, 0.5 for loss, while breaking up a pass.

Another true freshman to show out was defensive back Akeem Dent. The jewel of FSU’s 2019 recruiting class, Dent (6’1, 182) was pursued heavily by Alabama, and we saw why this afternoon. Dent, who had a really good spring, looks ready in every way to contribute early. A natural corner, Dent is a versatile player who can help all over the secondary to maximize his playing time. He’s a gamer, a relentless competitor who talks plenty but backs up his mouth. Dent had a game-high three pass breakups, and also chipped in eight tackles.