Florida State had its first chance to showcase its 2021 football team on April 10, hosting its annual Garnet and Gold scrimmage in front of a limited crowd (that included dozens of the best recruits in the country.)
While the game didn’t follow the typical format of drafting two separate teams (rather opting for offense vs. defense), it still gave us a chance to observe the team in a “game” format, with Mike Norvell and his staff placing the units in situational drills (99 yards to go, goal line, etc.)
Here are some quick observations:
We came into the day expecting the battle currently going on in quarterback room to continue to evolve — and that it did, as McKenzie Milton had perhaps his best day so far in the garnet and gold (well, black and gold for the QBs). After a few underthrows and rushed passes (partially due to an intense pass rush, which we’ll get to below) Milton seemed to get more comfortable within his role in the offense, threading the needle on several deep throws and escaping from collapsing pockets with an ease that would’ve been unthinkable for the UCF transfer a few years ago.
Jordan Travis, though, showed why he deserves to remain in the conversation for the starting role — or, at the very least, a consistent presence on the field. He was as elusive and speedy as he was during his flashes of brilliance in 2020, and seemed to be much more comfortable hitting deep and outside throws. There were a few missed opportunities due to his mistakes but overall, he kept the offense moving with the same consistency of Milton.
Mike Norvell has committed to building a deep running back stable and took the spring game to let his playmakers loose. Jashaun Corbin, Lawrance Toafili, Corey Wren, DJ Williams, Treshaun Ward and Deonte Sheffield all got some reps toting the rock, with Toafili and Corbin showcasing the same talent exhibited throughout last season. Williams came in late, but absorbed some contact on his second catch of the day for a first down.
A nightmare for McKenzie Milton at the start of the scrimmage, the defensive line battled back and forth in the trenches with Jermaine Johnson showing instantly the impact he’ll have for the Seminoles this season (he left the scrimmage early, but appeared to be unhampered after a trip to the injury tent. Derrick McClendon II and Dennis Briggs Jr. also looked good, with Quashon Fuller making a few nice plays as well.
Kevin Knowles II
The freshman defensive back earned his own section, because he looked like an absolute gamer in his debut to the fanbase at large. He was flying over the field, not only logging the only turnover of the exhibition but speeding into the backfield for several big tackles for loss. Knowles II has some freshman traits to shake off, but he figures to be one of the freshman making an instant impact for the Seminoles in 2021.
McKenzie Milton, Jammie Robinson, DJ Williams and Jermaine Johnson all showcased the roles they’ll hold in 2021, from seasoned vet to defensive monster to workhouse back. With how much talent and depth that FSU has lost to transfers, graduation and the NFL Draft, bringing in equivalent (or preferably, better) players became an instant need, especially considering the recruiting hurdles brought on by the dead period. There are still a few players we’ve yet to see showcase their abilities, but overall, FSU’s 2021 class has been impressive.
Continuing in that trend, FSU’s freshman receivers have proven that their talent, and not the lack of on their counterparts end, is what has helped them emerge as playmakers early on in the careers. Malik McClain had several great downfield catches, with one being a fantastic toss from Milton, and Burrell did the same. With Andrew Parchment and Destyn Hill still set to come to campus in the fall, the abilities in the receiver room make it near-inexcusable to replicate, rather than improve, on the receiving performances of last year.