In 25 days, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston practiced with the Seminoles' football team 14 times, played in 10 baseball games, went to class and still performed well in Florida State's spring game.
Terrance Smith will start but two linebacker jobs remain wide open. Matthew Thomas, Ukeme Eligwe and E.J. Levenberry all left an impression on Fisher this spring.
Ro’Derrick Hoskins, who only played a year of defense in high school, had a pair of sacks and an interception return for a touchdown in the spring game. Who knows how it will all shake out, but Florida State has plenty of options at linebacker and will have a deep rotation.
The secondary will again be very good.
It’s tough to lose an All-American corner (Lamarcus Joyner) and an All-Atlantic Coast Conference safety (Terrence Brooks). Florida State had the nation’s top pass defense in 2013 and the Seminoles appear to be loaded again.
Jalen Ramsey is just a sophomore but has taken on leadership responsibilities. P.J. Williams continues to get better. Trey Marshall is a versatile freshman that can play corner or safety. Tyler Hunter wore a green, no-contact jersey in the spring game, but his instincts were sharp and he made plays. Ronald Darby and Nate Andrews both missed the spring game with injuries, but the talent and depth at defensive back remains the strength of the defense.
The receivers are making progress.
At times, Florida State’s defensive backs didn’t let them show it. But 10 players caught three or more passes on Saturday.
If he can stay healthy, senior Scooter Haggins has experience and should see playing time. But it’s a big if for the senior, who has had knee, wrist and shoulder injuries. Jameis Winston praised all the sophomore receivers on Saturday but seemed to hint that Jesus Wilson was ahead of the group (which also includes Kermit Whitfield and Isaiah Jones) because of his initiative and work with Rashad Greene.
From the start of spring football practice on March 19 to the spring game on Saturday, a span of 25 days, Winston practiced with the football team 14 times and played in 10 baseball games. And went to class.
Winston admitted on Saturday that he often told the football coaches he wasn’t tired because he wanted to practice. Fans and media will analyze Winston’s 27 completions and 29 incompletions on Saturday. But remember a few things: Winston was throwing to a group of young receivers against an elite secondary with a body (and mind) that could use a day or two off.
Punter Cason Beatty needs to be more consistent.
Fisher was adamant after Saturday’s spring game that Beatty needs to improve. He opened Saturday’s spring game with an 18-yard punt and later had a 33-yard punt. Punts like that clearly overshadowed two very good punts (a 46-yarder and 51-yarder).
Walk-on Jonathan Hernandez will continue to push Beatty this fall. And while it’s likely freshman quarterback J.J. Cosentino will redshirt, he could be an option at punter, too.