FLORIDA STATE — The Seminoles formally concluded spring practice and scrimmages last week on April 12th. Head coach Mike Norvell and the staff seemed very pleased with the physicality, leadership, and overall player development that they witnessed.
“What I really appreciate about this team is they’re growing and understanding the emphasis of what we’re asking them to do,” Norvell said in early April. “The area of improvement when we tell them we want to see something, they’re really putting together a lot of focus and energy in getting that.”
Although the Noles dealt with certain injuries that caused them to move players up and down the depth chart, they now have a good understanding of where certain players stand during the offseason and what role they’ll take on moving forward. They landed 16 high school commits in the 2022 class, 11 of which have already enrolled at Florida State and spent an offseason in the college atmosphere. They also added 10 transfers in the portal that will look to make an immediate impact on the program.
Combining experience with the majority of last year’s starters staying in Tallahassee with an infusion of talent from fresh faces in each position group, FSU has worked to put itself in the best position to move forward after another losing season in 2021.
Here’s a look at 10 players who excelled throughout the spring:
Defensive end Jared Verse (RS So)
Verse transferred to Florida State after playing two seasons at Albany where he recorded 14.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss, and 74 total tackles. The 6-foot-4 defensive end lit up eyes around the IPF the moment he stepped foot on the practice field. From day one Verse wreaked havoc on the offensive line and as he continued to get comfortable with coach John Papuchis’s scheme the redshirt sophomore stood out more than any other player in the facility.
Wide receiver Mycah Pittman (RS Jr)
After starting his career with the Oregon Ducks, Mycah Pittman decided to enter his name in the transfer portal and between his skill set as a receiver and ability to field kicks, FSU’s staff was eager to bring him in. Pittman had a rocky start to spring practice, taking his time to find a role with the team but once he adjusted, became a reliable and consistent part of the offense.
Running back Trey Benson (RS So)
While Treshaun Ward and Lawrance Toafili seemed to be the lead backs heading into the spring, Trey Benson, who was bouncing back from injury, sprung into the conversation with an incredible mix of strength and quickness. His potential was showcased during FSU’s Garnet and Gold game, where he put up 77 yards on 7 carries.
Defensive end Derrick McLendon II (RS So)
While the bright lights were focused on the development of Jared Verse throughout the offseason, McLendon had a substantial rise in stock. He’s gotten quicker, displaying on multiple occasions his penchant for getting to the quarterback. If he keeps improving throughout the summer, McLendon is a candidate to breakout next season.
Defensive back Omarion Cooper (So)
Cooper was continuously improving throughout the 2021 season, slowly breaking out as a reliable cornerback down the stretch. He didn’t have the flashy plays like Azareye’h Thomas or Renardo Green this spring, but he was consistently tasked with guarding the Seminoles' best and gave up very little space in the break off the line.
Defensive back Akeem Dent (RS Jr)
The local media in Tallahassee spoke with Dent after a scrimmage with multiple takeaways and a practice where he picked off Jordan Travis. Dent said that he’s gotten way more confident in his ability to break up plays and after the Miami game last season he sees himself as a different player. The confidence led to great plays from the DB and they should continue as Dent keeps his foot on the gas.
Linebacker DJ Lundy (RS So)
Even with the addition of Tatum Bethune in the offseason, there were questions about the Noles linebacker room in 2022. A player tasked with being a key part of FSU’s defense since his arrival in Tallahassee, DJ Lundy was consistent throughout the spring, continuing to refine small details week by week. He was mentioned by defensive coordinator Adam Fuller as somebody who made huge strides in the spring — now, he’ll be tasked with carrying that over to the fall.
Offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons (RS Sr)
Transferring from Notre Dame, Gibbons joined the Noles in 2021 and in that time has become known for his reliable leadership on and off the field. Throughout the spring, he held players accountable and made sure to help the younger offensive lineman throughout the entire offseason.
Florida State’s offensive line working with coach Alex Atkins: pic.twitter.com/H7FosOycN9— MAX (@maxescarpio) April 5, 2022
Tight end Camm McDonald (RS Sr)
In yet another unsteady position group for the Seminoles, McDonald made an impact on the pass catchers from day one of spring practice. He came into the offseason knowing he has to take the next step and be a stable piece for the Noles offense and his work reflected that. McDonald had crisp routes and seldom dropped a pass, while also focusing some of his time on helping newcomers learn the ins and outs of FSU practice.
Defensive tackle Robert Cooper (RS Sr)
An upbeat defensive tackle that loves the game of football, Robert Cooper was defensive line coach Odell Haggins's right-hand man (and Norvell’s sworn enemy when it came to racing) the entire spring, serving as a constant threat to the offense. An All-ACC honorable mention last year, Cooper had 39 tackles (four and a half for a loss). half a sack, and three quarterback hurries — numbers that don’t even come close to explaining the full impact he had on the team. He has a massive opportunity to see those numbers rise in 2022 while looking to impress NFL scouts.