Bryan Stork leads Seminoles' offensive line of veterans
AUG 08, 2013 1:27p ET
That has changed dramatically in the past few years.
The Seminoles' offensive line is now one of the team's strengths, a group with four returning starters that in 2013 will protect a first-year starting quarterback but also open a path for a talented group of tailbacks.
Bryan Stork has seen all of the changes firsthand. Stork, a senior, is the unquestioned leader of the group, starting 27 career games (first at guard but then at center in 2012).
"From the past two years to now, I feel way more comfortable," Stork said. "I'm more relaxed."
The same can be said for all of Florida State's linemen, who clearly have benefitted from being thrown into the fire when the unit faced so many injuries in 2011 (four freshmen started the bowl win against Notre Dame).
After once struggling to protect the quarterback and allowing 41 sacks in 13 games in 2011, Florida State trimmed that number all the way down to 26 sacks in 14 games last season.
Florida State also threw for 3,709 yards and ran for 2,882 yards in 2012, one of just five teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision that put up at least 3,000 yards passing and a minimum of 2,800 yards rushing. It also showed that the offensive line was adept at both buying Manuel time and opening up rushing lanes for the likes of James Wilder Jr., Devonta Freeman and Chris Thompson.
The difference in the offensive line from 2011 to 2012 is night and day.
"Now we know each other," Stork said. "We can look at each other and tell each other what we’re thinking."
Stork is a candidate for the Rimington Award, which is given each year to the nation's top center. He graded out at a team-leading 85.6 percent in 2012, and Phil Steele's preseason magazine ranks Stork as the No. 2 center.
The versatile Stork has had quite the football career already. He played tight end in high school and has already started in college at guard. But Stork may also see playing time at right tackle in 2013.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher feels that Stork's long-term prospects are at tackle, which is a position of need in the NFL. But Stork's value is also in the fact that he can play every offensive line position, something that will make him a hot commodity in 2014 when the NFL Draft approaches. With NFL roster limitations, it helps that Stork can play every position on the line.
But for now, Stork is entrenched at center. Until he's asked to move elsewhere.
"I'm playing it day by day; I don't care (where I play)," Stork said. "I just want to play football do what I love. I don’t ever want to stop. The day I stop is going to be a sad day, you know?"
It doesn’t look like that day will be anytime soon.