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Florida State football: 2021 wide receivers, tight end preview

Can the Seminoles’ pass-catchers take a step forward in 2021?

Florida State v Louisville
Camren McDonald
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Just thinking the words “2020 Florida State Seminoles wide receivers and tight ends” make me channel my inner Clint Eastwood:

Last year’s group of wide receivers was arguably the most disappointing unit on the team. Florida State ranked 119th in the nation with an average of 15.5 incompletions per game, up from 11.7 the previous season.

Completion percentage fell from over 65% in 2019 to just under 53% in 2020, a rank of 115th in the nation. FSU averaged 263.5 yards per game through the air in 2019, but that number plummeted to 187.9 last season. While the QBs and OL share some of the blame, the guys charged with catching the ball were the worst offenders. Dropped passes were a constant issue, along with poor effort, below-average route running, and a myriad of bad attitudes/leadership.

Tamorrion Terry was expected to take another leap forward, starting the season in the mix for national and ACC preseason lists, but after a lackluster 23 catches and 1 touchdown in 5 games played, he and the program parted ways. Meanwhile, DJ Matthews and Isaiah Bolden transferred. Despite a brilliant touchdown catch (his only one), Warren Thompson amassed just 8 catches and was also separated from the program. The above group displayed attitude and character concerns, so addition by subtraction should be applicable here.

The tight end room seemed to be cursed with bad luck. Expected starter Tre’ McKitty elected to transfer to the Georgia Bulldogs, while incoming UCLA Bruins transfer Jordan Wilson, who was being counted on to serve as a de facto 6th OL and play a strong role in run blocking, missed the season with an injury.

In total, two FSU tight ends made 25 catches for 308 yards and 2 touchdowns (23/263/2 of which came from Camren McDonald).

Luckily for FSU, help is on the way at both positions. Mike Norvell and his staff have proven adept at keeping their word when identifying position units needing to be flipped, and wide receiver and tight end are a couple good examples.

2021 Florida State Seminoles Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Tomahawk Nation Projected Starters

This is a tricky one for the wide receivers because it’ll truly be an open competition and there are some seriously talented young players. Tight Ends are easier to predict. This also depends on whether Norvell employs 3 WR sets or 2 TE sets, so I’ll give predictions for both.

Wide Receivers

RS JR Ontaria “Pokey” Wilson

Wilson led all receivers with 30 catches for 382 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2020. He’ll be counted on to step up as a leader and will bring game experience to a very young, inexperienced group.

RS JR Keyshawn Helton

Helton is a wonderful story, overcoming a significant injury and contributing 14 catches for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns last season. Helton has incredibly strong character and should emerge as a vocal leader for the group. He’s the heart of the WR unit.

RS FR Bryan Robinson

I think Robinson makes a strong push to be a starter this year. He participated in 3 games last year, but didn’t record any statistics, and was seemingly hampered by nagging injuries. Coaches raved about him last spring and have done so again this offseason, marking him as a young guy who’s impressing in practice reps.

Tight Ends

RS SR Jordan Wilson

FSU will finally get Wilson on the field this year after losing last season to injury. At the time, we knew it’d be a loss, but as the season progressed, we realized just how much he would’ve been counted on to help along the line. A senior statesman who’s a very good blocker with nice hands, Wilson should make an impact in both the run and pass game.

RS JR Camren McDonald

McDonald accounted for the vast majority of stats from the TE position last season with 23 catches for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns. He announced he’d return to FSU for another season and will provide leadership and experience for the TE group. McDonald is a reliable weapon in the passing game and will be the other starter in 2 TE sets.

Returning Players

Wide Receivers

RS SO Jordan Young

Nicknamed “The Abusement Park”, Young generated a lot of excitement among FSU fans when he signed with the ‘Noles based on his size and athleticism. However, that excitement has yet to translate into production, as Young only contributed 7 catches for 85 yards last season and didn’t step up to fill the void left by bigger names. With a group desperate for production and leadership, this feels like a make-or-break season for Young, as he’s in serious danger of getting passed up by younger players if he turns in another quiet season.

RS FR Kentron Poitier

Poitier showed some highlight reel catches last spring, but hit a natural freshman wall during the season, specifically a lack of confidence after struggling with drops. His size and body control is outstanding, but he’ll be expected to show more consistency with his hands. He’ll be in the rotation and if/when he puts it together, he could be lethal on the outside and in the red zone.

RS FR Darion Williamson

Williamson managed 2 catches for 15 yards last year, but was not expected to contribute much beyond that. This season he has a chance to make noise if he can show he’s fully healthy and has grasped the playbook. Another tall WR, he could make a push to be a regular in the rotation, or he could prove to be another year away from being ready.

Tight Ends

RS SO Wyatt Rector

Rector was incredibly efficient on his stat line last season, scoring 1 touchdown on 1 run for 1 yard. In all seriousness, Rector was invisible in the passing game and while he’s always a threat to throw the ball on a trick play, he likely won’t be much of a factor unless injuries pile up. One thing we can say for Rector, though, is he’ll always give 100% and is a good locker room presence.

RS FR Preston Daniel

Daniel was a pleasant surprise last season. The walk-on didn’t show up often in the stat sheet with 2 catches for 45 yards, but he was helpful as a blocker for the running game and showed great effort in every contest. He’s a potential scholarship candidate down the road and someone who can be relied upon to help in certain situations.

RS FR Carter Boatwright

Boatwright has done nothing on the field to date, but is making a positive impact in the classroom as a Seminole Scholar, so there’s that.

RS FR Markeston Douglas

Douglas has struggled with injuries and likely won’t be counted on to make significant contributions this year. There was also some chatter about him potentially switching to defense, but he’s still listed as a TE for now.

Early enrollees

Wide Receivers

FR Joshua Burrell

Burrell has already made positive waves in his short time on campus, recently squatting 455 pounds and showing good leadership potential. Already built like a college receiver, Burrell has a great shot at getting into the rotation as long as he’s able to learn the playbook and show consistency. I expect him to turn some heads this spring and push for playing time in the fall.

FR Malik McClain

McClain was a huge win (twice) on the recruiting trail for FSU, which managed to get him back in the fold during the Early Signing Period, and his combination of speed and size will undoubtedly have him in the running for reps. He could be a weapon on go routes and in the red zone, but may need more time to develop before he consistently sees the field.

Tight Ends

FR Jackson West

West, who our own CoachAB has dubbed a future Pro Bowler, has an excellent opportunity ahead of him. He’ll have a jump start on the other incoming tight end, Koby Gross, and can position himself as a strong candidate to start next season. A jack of all trades, the coaches will have a lot of fun moving West around the line of scrimmage and in the backfield. As long as he learns the playbook and makes positive gains in the weight room, he should be able to see the field this season.

Additionally, transfer WR Andrew Parchment, incoming freshman WR Destyn “Fatt” Hill, and JUCO transfer TE Koby Gross will join the team in the summer and all three are expected to contribute in 2021.

Stay tuned to Tomahawk Nation all week long as we preview each position unit before the start of Spring Practice on Mar. 9.