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Spring Position Previews: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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A revamped group of pass catchers in Tallahassee.

Florida State v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Ahead of Florida State football beginning spring football practice, Tomahawk Nation is diving in and breaking down the roster position group by position group. Today, we look at the wide receivers and tight ends.

No position group had offseason twists and turns quite like the wide receiver unit. After failing to sign a single prep wideout in #Tribe22, Mike Norvell placed a heavy emphasis on the position in the transfer portal. Four transfer wide receivers have joined the group, each bringing a unique skillset and all of whom enrolled in January and will get a spring under their belts. Consequently, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some attrition from the group during or after spring practices. Competition is wide open among this group, and on paper, it looks to be a potential strength moving forward.

Wide Receivers

Names to Know

Winston Wright, Jr. (RS JR): The 5’10”, 180 lb transfer from West Virginia became FSU’s most production wideout the minute he set foot on campus. He led the Mountaineers with 63 catches for 688 yards and 5 touchdowns last season and will very likely secure a starting role at FSU both at WR and returning kicks, which he did successfully at WVU as well. Wright has declared this season to be a money season for him, betting on himself to springboard into the NFL next year despite having two years of eligibility remaining. He will also be a leader in the locker room.

Mycah Pittman (RS JR): The 5’11”, 205 lb transfer from Oregon comes to Tallahassee with career totals of 26 catches for 547 yards and 2 touchdowns from his time in Eugene. Pittman dealt with injuries and poor QB play and the coaches are banking on him blossoming as a Seminole, both at WR and in the kick return game. Pittman will look to establish himself as a major rotational player, though as with the other transfers, it will greatly depend on how quickly the playbook is learned.

Malik McClain (SO): The 6’4”, 201 lb returning Seminole wideout was forced into playing time quickly last season and despite some expected mistakes, the youngster showed improvement and finished the season with 16 catches for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns. McClain will push for a starting role this season and will look to show demonstrated development in his route-running, blocking, and leadership skills.

Returners

Ontaria Wilson (RS SR): The 6’0”, 175 lb Wilson is the most experienced among returning Seminole wideouts. “Pokey” completed last season with 23 catches for 382 yards and 5 touchdowns to lead all pass-catchers. He is likely to remain heavily in the rotation and push for a starting role, and FSU will look to Wilson to mentor younger players as well.

Keyshawn Helton (RS SR): The 5’9”, 175 lb Helton returned from a difficult injury to post 19 catches for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns last season. He has yet to return to pre-injury form, but hopefully another offseason has helped him regain what was lost, or at least close to it. Helton is a positive presence in the locker room and will provide leadership to many new faces, in addition to competing for a starting role.

Ja’Khi Douglas (RS SO): The 5’9”, 198 lb Douglas is listed as a running back but saw plenty of time catching passes, finishing the season with 14 catches for 255 yards and a touchdown. He is a gadget player that can line up in the slot or out of the backfield, and it didn’t feel right to do this preview without including the diminutive speedster.

Darion Williamson (RS SO): The 6’3”, 200 lb Williamson saw his playing time increase throughout the season and finished with 11 catches for 110 yards. Williamson will look to keep his spot in the rotation and push for a more consistent role, though he needs to improve as a blocker and in his route-running. Williamson might be an attrition candidate if he gets pushed down the depth chart.

Jordan Young (RS JR): The 6’2”, 210 lb Young is a locker room favorite but has yet to live up to his potential and his nickname of “The Abusement Park” at FSU. He finished last season with a meager 4 catches for 38 yards, though he did score a touchdown. This spring may be Young’s last chance to prove he belongs in the rotation. He’s already been passed up by younger players for playing time and a failure to show that he’s finally put it all together could lead to a transfer for Young.

Kentron Poitier (RS SO): The 6’3”, 205 lb Poitier has alternately shown great potential and maddening inconsistency, so this will be a crucial spring for him as well. He finished last season with 4 catches for 22 yards. He needs to prove that his development is on the right track and that he is committed to doing the little things right. If he finds himself too far down on the depth chart, Poitier is another likely attrition candidate.

Joshua Burrell (RS FR): The 6’2”, 224 lb Burrell showed good potential last spring before missing the season with an ankle/foot injury. Expected to be healthy this spring and summer, Burrell will look to assert himself in the rotation as a consistent blocker and big, reliable possession target, particularly in the mid-range and short yardage game.

New Names

Deuce Spann (RS SO): The 6’4”, 195 lb transfer from Illinois started his career as a quarterback before transitioning to wide receiver. His combination of size, speed, and athleticism is top-notch but he is still raw at the WR position. Spann has mentioned that the coaches told him he’ll have some packages at QB in addition to WR, so it will be interesting to see how he is utilized this season.

Johnny Wilson (RS SO): The 6’7”, 225 lb transfer from Arizona State will be relied upon heavily for his advanced blocking skills on screens and as a serious mismatch in the red zone. FSU might use him as an inline tight end at times as well, especially in goal-line situations.

Sam McCall (FR): A prize jewel in the Seminoles’ newest recruiting class, the 6’1”, 182 lb McCall said in his entrance interview that he’s prioritizing getting better at corner, but he’s too talented not to see snaps on both sides of the ball. If his spring goes well (aka he’s comfortable enough in one position to be able to take reps at another), look for McCall to possibly get some snaps at WR throughout the season, especially against teams like Duquesne and Louisiana.

Azareyeh Thomas (FR): One of two enormous pickups for FSU during the Early Signing Period, Thomas, like McCall, has tantalizing potential as an athlete and could see time on both sides of the ball. He said he isn’t ruling out offense when he spoke with the media earlier this month, and if coaches give him the opportunity in spring to showcase what he’s got, he might just be too good to keep off the field.


Tight Ends

The ‘Noles will look to replace the production of departed super-duper-senior Jordan Wilson, who was FSU’s best tight end in the latter half of last season. A transfer portal addition isn’t out of the question if a starting-quality option comes available, because this position group is certainly not a strength for the Seminoles heading into the 2022 season.

Name to Know

Camren McDonald (RS SR): The 6’4”, 242 lb McDonald is FSU’s most established and productive tight end returning this year, and he is a lock to be a starter once again. McDonald finished the year with 24 catches for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns. An established receiving weapon but a liability when run blocking, McDonald is a known quantity at this stage and will look to cap off his FSU career with a strong season.

Returners

Jackson West (SO): West struggled to keep his emotions in check on the field at times and did not record any catches in limited playing time last season. He will be counted on to take a step forward and become a bigger contributor this season. West, 6’4”, 245 lb, has the versatility to line up in the backfield and has the disposition of a copperhead snake, and this will be a big offseason for his development.

Preston Daniel (RS SO): The 6’4”, 250 lb Daniel saw more time the past two seasons than anyone anticipated due to injuries and poor depth at the tight end position. He finished last season with one catch for 5 yards and will need to take a major step forward with his blocking if he hopes to see more time this season outside of special teams.

Markeston Douglas (RS SO): Douglas came to FSU as a former basketball player new to football and admittedly, a massive project. An injury cost him time in high school and he did not make an impact last season, but at 6’4”, 276 lb, FSU believes he has NFL potential if he puts it all together. Some wondered if he would see time along the defensive line but so far he has stayed on offense. This will be a crucial spring for Douglas to show the coaches he’s on track to contribute, otherwise he could be a candidate for attrition.

Wyatt Rector (RS JR): Rector is a converted quarterback who started his career at Western Michigan. He primarily contributes on special teams and was named a captain last season for his efforts and experience. A big body, (6’2”, 234 lb), he also plays a role in goal line packages and finished last season with 2 catches for 13 yards and a touchdown.

Koby Gross (RS SO): The 6’1”, 245 lb Gross came to FSU from a California JUCO and did not make an impact last season. If he does not have a strong spring, he is a likely attrition candidate.

New Names

Brian Courtney (FR): The 6’3”, 230 lb Courtney played quarterback, linebacker, and a bit of tight end in high school and the coaching staff is banking on the latter being his future. Courtney enrolled early and will benefit from this spring, but outside of a phenomenal spring and fall camp performance, will hopefully will not need to see the field in 2022.

Jerrale Powers (FR): The 6’2”, 238 lb Powers will join FSU this summer but I still wanted to include him because I’m a nice guy. He will need at least one or two seasons in the S&C program before he is ready to meaningfully contribute on the field.