Like with most teams at this stage in the season, the Florida State offensive line is anything but cemented. Just over a week into camp there's been plenty of shuffling and moving, with players flipping sides, moving inside and out and working in a variety of different groupings.
Still, you can see a little bit of shape evolving now, a semblance of what the line may look like come week one provided everyone stays healthy, which as Florida State remembers from last year is hardly a likelihood.
Sophomore Austin Barron seemed like the logical choice to snap the ball when camp started but it looks like redshirt junior Bryan Stork, one of the most experienced guys in the group, has started to settle into that spot instead after moving inside at the beginning of August. The coaching staff may want to have their most experienced blocker calling out protections and acting as the de facto captain of the line given the youth and inexperience of the rest of the potential starters, but Stork at center does still register as a bit of a surprise at this point.
Behind him Austin Barron will likely still see plenty of action this season. Barron performed admirably when thrust into action as a freshman (all things considered) and given Stork's versatility, any kind of injury along the line, not just at center, could see Stork shift elsewhere and put Barron back into the mix.
The guard spots have seen some good competition, right now it looks to be Josue Matias and Tre' Jackson leading the pack, but with several weeks (and scrimmages) between now and September 1, that could still change. Both Matias and Jackson made starts in Florida State's Champs Bowl victory over Notre Dame last January, and according to back-up quarterback Clint Trickett on Wednesday, they've used that experience to springboard them into 2012.
Matias hails from New Jersey, a big 6-6 320 lb mauler, he's already been singled out by Bryan Stork as the most improved player on the unit. Jackson, a Georgia-native who stands 6-4 330, has also caught the eye of coaches and upperclassmen early on in camp. Behind them, senior Jakob Fahrenkrug, who started much of last season and redshirt junior Garrett Faircloth (who was hampered by injuries last season) are pushing the underclassmen to start.
Of all the spots on the offensive line, perhaps the most certain may be left tackle where Cameron Erving has made the transition from defensive lineman to offensive tackle seamlessly. Erving, a redshirt sophomore, has drawn rave reviews so far in camp including one anecdotal story from the coaching staff where they spent ten minutes rewatching a play in which the new-fangled left tackle held preseason all-American DE Brandon Jenkins in check with one arm while subduing a blitzing LB Christian Jones with the other. Bobby Hart, who seemed to have the inside track on the job after starting several games as a true freshman is behind Erving right now.
On the right side may be the best battle in all of camp, where a couple of European-born Juco transfers are slugging it out to be the right tackle. Swiss-born Daniel Glauser has been working with the first team after enrolling early and practing during the spring, but Menelik Watson (from Manchester, UK) has quickly been establishing himself as a presence and the battle seems to be tightening up. It's anyone's guess at this point between the two big European tackles, but by all accounts both have been extremely impressive early on.
So, Who Starts?
There's still a lot of time left in camp, but based on the early returns you can start to focus the picture a little bit. One theme all camp has been how much bigger, stronger and meaner this offensive line has become. It's easy to forget how young this unit was last season, but it's also just as easy to get caught up in the hype that comes with the preseason.
Florida State really won't know for sure what they have until probably week four when Clemson comes to visit. They will however, have a much better idea after tomorrow's scrimmage.
So check back tomorrow, and I'll update you.