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17 posts from January 2013

January 30, 2013

Snaer Buzzer Beater Helps Seminoles Sneak Past Terrapins

Michael Snaer did it again on Wednesday evening. Just a week removed from beating Clemson in epic fashion after a contested game-winning three-pointer, Snaer provided an encore in front of his home crowd at the Tucker Center in Tallahassee, beating Maryland 73-71 on a last-second three pointer.

"I'm supposed to make that shot. In the course of the game I'm supposed to make that shot every single time," said Snaer after the game. "I'm kind of used to those type of situations now, I guess you get used to it, you get used to doing it. And plus when it leaves your hand and it just feels so good and you make it, it's just not too much of a surprise.

"But you know, I'm getting used to it. I'm a confident player, I trust it's going in. I don't have to act a fool too many times, I just did that last week so I can kind of calm down a little this week."

It was a bail-out for Florida State though- who won in spite of being out-played in the paint by the Terrapins. Michael Snaer saved the Seminoles once again on Wednesday.

As Florida State moves forward with its ACC schedule its achilles heel continues to be rebounding. For the seventh time in seven games the Seminoles were out-rebounded by an ACC opponent, losing the rebound battle to Maryland 36-20 even as they managed to escape with the game.

"It's very hard to win a basketball game when your opponent shoots 53% in the second half and you get out-rebounded by 16," said head coach Leonard Hamilton. "But I think what made a difference tonight was we weren't turning the ball over and giving them a lot of extra possessions."

That and Snaer's late-game heroics.

The first half was tightly contested. Maryland jumped out to an early advantage but Florida State used a 9-0 run to retake the lead and the two teams headed into the locker-room tied up at 34 after the opening 20 minutes.

Snaer was effective at the out-set, at one point providing an assist and five points in three consecutive trips down the court to get the Seminole offense rolling early.

But an awkward landing on a dish inside to freshman center Boris Bojanovsky flared up on Snaer a few minutes later and limited him for much of the first half. He finished leading the Seminoles in scoring with eight points in the opening period despite the sore ankle.

For the Terrapins, 44% first half shooting was wiped out by 10 turnovers. Even despite out-rebounding the Seminoles 20-8 in the opening period, being -6 in turnovers was enough to mitigate anything Maryland was doing well in the first half and send both squads into the locker room tied.

The second half continued to be a back-and-forth affair. Both teams traded baskets and free throws as the first ten minutes of the second half wound down. That trend continued throughout the rest of the game with neither team leading by more than six at any point in the final period.

The game got really tight in the final minutes though.

After a designed play on an in-bounds from junior forward Okaro White found redshirt freshman center Kiel Turpin under the basket for an emphatic dunk, junior guard Ian Miller hit a two-point jumper to tie the game at 66 with just over two minutes to play.

Maryland quickly responded and it made it 69-66 on a Dez Wells three-pointer though.

Okaro White drew the foul on the Seminoles’ ensuing possession and knocked down both free throws to make it a one-point game with 1:43 left to play. But Wells sunk a long two on the Terrapins’ next trip down the floor to extend the Maryland lead to three again.

Michael Snaer made it a one-point game inside of 45 seconds and the Terrapins took a timeout with 30 remaining and a 71-70 advantage to try and close things out.

Maryland attempted to find Alex Len under the hoop after the in-bounds but an alley-oop ended with Okaro White coming down with a contested rebound that was awarded to Florida State.

With 8.9 seconds and the ball on their end of the court the Seminoles looked for magic for the second time in a week. After beating Clemson on a Snaer buzzer beater just seven days earlier at the Tucker Center, Florida State in-bounded the ball, made several passes and found Snaer on the wing for the go-ahead three with just 1.1 seconds remaining.

"Yes," said freshman center Michael Ojo through a huge grin when asked if he thought the final shot was going in.

"He shot it with confidence, I've been watching Snaer for a year now since I [made the decision] to come to FSU. I watched all his buzzer-shots against Duke, against Virginia [Tech] last year, so he's capable of knocking them down. And when he's in a groove, it was a good shot."

Once again, the Seminoles’ senior guard bailed them out. To nobody's surprise.

After being out-rebounded all evening a Michael Snaer three-pointer at the buzzer gave Florida State another victory and helped keep the 'Noles' ACC and NCAA tourney hopes alive.

Snaer finished as the night’s leading scorer, dropping 19 (in spite of the issues with his ankle) and also adding four rebounds and three assists. Okaro White had 14 and Ian Miller, playing on a bad foot of his own, contributed 10 points.

For Maryland Dez Wells had 19 also to lead the Terps, but star center Alex Len was limited to just four points and five rebounds, largely due to foul trouble.

Next up for Florida State is fifth-ranked Duke on Saturday...

Notebook: Ian Miller, who is not practicing as he tries to rest a foot injury, had ten points and played 22 minutes on Wednesday night... Michael Ojo played 14 minutes and was well-received by the Seminole faithful, despite having just two points and three rebounds, he is rapidly becoming a fan favorite in Tallahassee... On the game-winning play, the original look was for Okaro White but Kiel Turpin forgot to set the screen. Michael Snaer was to follow Ian Miller inside but after Miller stumbled, Snaer spotted up outside and hit the game-winner... After the game Leonard Hamilton lamented the roll Michael Snaer has been forced into this season, instead of being a finisher as he has been most of his career Snaer is in a role as a facilitator more this season and it's been a strain for him at times... Hamilton said an effort is being made to play Snaer less earlier in games so he's fresh for the finish at the end... Florida State finished the day with 14 assists and just six turnovers, Hamilton attributed that to the way FSU scripted its offense to try and mask their inexperience heading into the game... Okaro White said after the game he's unsure what to attribute the Seminoles' rebounding woes to, but admitted it needed to be addressed before Duke heads to Tallahassee this weekend.

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.

January 24, 2013

Florida State Edges Clemson 60-57 on Michael Snaer Buzzer Beater

 

Michael Snaer did what Seminoles' fans have become accustomed to on Thursday night at the Tucker Center, after the Florida State (11-7, 3-2 ACC) offense struggled for most of the night and the defense had issues of its own, the unflappable senior guard took an in-bounds pass with just eight seconds remaining in a tied game and buried a contested three as the buzzer rang, sinking Clemson 60-57.

The Seminoles shot just 40.7% on the night, were out-rebounded and at times looked lost in the paint defensively, but after a couple of late game runs erased an 11-point Clemson lead, Florida State did just enough to eke out the win over the Tigers (10-8, 2-4 ACC).

There was very little doubt when Snaer took the in-bounds what he intended to do. The 6'5 guard raced down the court, went to his very favorite spot along the perimeter and put up a three-pointer with two men in his face that found the backboard and then the bottom of the basket. Afterwards he raced back up the court to the students' section, jumped the first row and shouted 'This is OUR (expletive) house!'

"It felt good leaving my hands, I didn't know how it was going in but I was just like, 'this is probably going in,' it felt good," joked Snaer after the game. "I've had the lucky touch before, you've got a guy who's got that lucky touch I guess you've just got to give it to him."

The game started out slowly with both teams combining for just 17 points in the first eight-plus minutes, the lone highlight during the early going coming on a fearsome Okaro White putback that put the Seminoles up 13-12 about ten minutes in. 

Florida State ran into trouble early though when Kiel Turpin collected two first half fouls and headed to the bench. Without Terrance Shannon available, the Seminoles struggled to stop Clemson inside and Senior C Devon Booker lead with 11 first half points. 

Clemson used a 16-0 first half run to head into the tunnel up 29-21. FSU shot just 32 percent in the first half and didn't start much better in the second.

Fortunately their defense tightened up, limiting Clemson to just 32% shooting in the second half and their offense utilized several small runs to claw their way back into the game. It wasn't pretty though. It took FSU nearly 28 minutes of basketball to top 30 points.

It got tight in the final four minutes though, with neither team leading by more than a basket the rest of the way.

After getting the ball back with around a minute left, trailing by three, Devon Bookert made a game-tying three-pointer.

Clemson was unsuccessful on their ensuing possession, airing out a three-point attempt that was contested by the Florida State defense as the shot clock expired. 

From there, with eight seconds left, it was all Snaer. 

Michael Snaer's game-winning shot was like a microcosm of the Seminoles entire night on offense. Originally a play called to penetrate, Snaer admitted to being caught a little off guard by the way Clemson defended him, got to midcourt late and heaved up a contested three just beyond the arc in the oh-so-fateful spot he beat Duke and Va Tech last season. It looked forced and it didn't come easily, but in the end it was enough to pull out the win.

After getting the ball back with around a minute left trailing by three Devon Bookert made a game-tying three-pointer. Clemson was unsuccessful on their ensuing possession, airing out a three-point attempt that was contested by the Florida State defense as the shot clock expired. 

"There's no one on the team we'd rather have shoot the three," said Kiel Turpin. "When we saw there was like eight seconds left we said, 'Oh it's going to Mike.'"

Snaer didn't disappoint.

Kiel Turpin had a big second half after playing just four minutes in the first. Coming into the game he had a career high seven points, he scored 16 against Clemson on Thursday night.

"After my two fouls Terrance [Shannon] pulled me aside like, 'you've got to step up,'" said Turpin of the advice he received from his injured teammate. Shannon went down hard in the Virginia game last weekend and had to be kept overnight for observation, with him on the shelf, Turpin responded with a career-best second half.

Okaro White also added ten and Devon Bookert had 11, but the night- and the highlight reel- belonged to Michael Snaer.

Last season, around this time a big win on the road against Clemson and a Michael Snaer ACC-Championship prediction put the Seminoles on the path towards their first ACC title. This year when asked Snaer was a lot more conservative, but confident nonetheless.

"I just think this is a turning point in our season, this was a critical game and we've got a little momentum going forward and this could be the boost we've needed to catapault our season," said Snaer. "It's desperation for us, we need this, we need every single win from this point out, we need a big run to keep our hopes and dreams alive."

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.

January 18, 2013

A Contrast In Handling Turmoil: EJ Manuel and Manti Te'o

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In the past week the legend and mythos surrounding Manti Te'o have been torn down and sullied. After the national media spent a season building the young man up, fact-checking nothing and taking almost every account at face value, they've now turned with a vengeance on the senior linebacker from Notre Dame.

Te'o did go through at least one personal tragedy this year, the death of his grandmother back in September. Six hours later his girlfriend purportedly passed away and quickly both tragedies were splashed across pages of sports sections across the country, Te'o was giving interviews regularly and his plight became a source of inspiration for his team, his university and many across the nation.

And there's nothing wrong with that, but as Te'o has quickly found out, the very public nature of his personal turmoil can now just as easily be used against him. Every interview he did, every bit of sympathy he was given, can just as easily be turned on him. In many circles, there is a very tangible anger over the perception that Te'o may have used personal tragedy to manipulate public sentiment in his favor.

Contrast that with Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel, who held his own personal turmoil inside for an entire season. While Manuel was battling on the field for the Seminoles this year, his mother was battling for her life off of it. Diagnosed with stage one breast cancer, she was undergoing chemotherapy while her son was playing through the biggest season of his life.

I sat in the Seminole press room every Monday during the season and watched EJ Manuel stand before the media for his weekly press conference. At times- like after the losses to NC State and Florida- it felt like more of a firing line than a 'friendly media contingency.'

But EJ Manuel did not make excuses, he did not use the upheaval in his personal life as a shield or a rallying cry. As EJ Manuel's mother fought her own battle, Manuel woke each day, steeled himself and continued to grind through an entire season.

After the Seminoles' devastating loss to NC State, it would have been easy to leak news of his mother's plight to someone in the local media and get some of the heat off his back.

But Manuel never did. He never even showed signs of the emotional tempest brewing just beneath the surface.

The lone hint came at a time when the emotion could be easily overlooked. As his mother joined him on the field before the senior day game his eyes welled up, he could barely hold himself together. Fans and media alike chalked it up to the culmination of a long career at Florida State. It was so much more.

Manuel would go on to have arguably the worst game of his career that day, throwing three interceptions and fumbling once in a 37-26 loss to the rival Florida Gators. The fanbase came down on Manuel hard afterward, his critics were never louder, and still he kept the turmoil close to his chest.

It was not until December 26th, after Florida State had clinched their first ACC title in seven years and were preparing for their Orange Bowl matchup with Northern Illinois- when Manuel's mother was about to undergo her final chemotherapy session, her cancer all but beaten- that Manuel finally spoke.

"I knew nobody else was going to care, to be honest with you," Manuel told ESPN. "People will say, sorry, and this and that, but you've still got to go out and play. I understood that. That's why I never really said anything publicly about it, because Florida State fans may say sorry, but when you're not winning games, they're still going to have things to say negatively or just be upset."

There is no right or wrong way to handle personal turmoil, to work through difficult issues that have befallen one's family. 

But one thing is for sure, the way EJ Manuel handled his turmoil left no room for anyone to question his character.

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.

January 15, 2013

Seminoles Finalize 2013 Coaching Staff, Add Napier, Sanders

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Jimbo Fisher has put the final touches on his 2013 coaching staff just over three weeks before national signing day. 

Florida State had experienced quite a bit of coaching turnover since the end of their regular season. Starting with the departure of defensive coordinator Mark Stoops and DE Coach DJ Eliot to Kentucky, the Seminoles also lost RB Coach/Special Teams coordinator Eddie Gran to Cincinnati, LB Coach Greg Hudson to Purdue and QB Coach Dameyune Craig to Auburn.

That left several gaping holes for Jimbo Fisher and Florida State to fill with national signing day looming and other schools in the region looking to exploit the Seminoles' coaching uncertainty to their advantage.

Fisher acted quickly to fill key defensive roles, adding former Tennessee DC Sal Sunseri to coach defensive ends and former Alabama DB's Coach Jeremy Pruitt to coordinate his defense. But heading into the off-season, there were still several key roles that needed filling.

A few days ago Florida State announced the hiring of Charles Kelly as their new linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. After taking over the Georgia Tech defense mid-season last year, Kelly opted to leave the DC role at Tech and come coach linebackers for the Seminoles. 

"I'm very excited to have an opportunity to work for Coach Fisher and be a part of a championship program like Florida State," Kelly said at the time. "I know Coach Fisher's goal is to win a national championship and that's something I'm hoping to help the program accomplish."

That still left the offensive side of the football though, where only OL Coach Rick Trickett, TE Coach/Offensive Coordinator James Coley and WR Coach Lawrence Dawsey remained on staff. 

On Tuesday, Fisher and the Seminoles took care of the remaining vacancies.

James Coley has been switched from Tight Ends to Quarterback Coach, replacing Dameyune Craig, he will continue in his role as the offensive coordinator as well (though playcalling duties will still be Fisher's).

The Seminoles also added two new coaches to round out their 2013 staff. Billy Napier has been hired from Colorado State to serve as the Tight Ends coach and recruiting coordinator. He was also formerly at Clemson as the team's offensive coordinator in 2009-2010.

"Billy is one of the bright young coaches in the game," said Fisher. "He's coached some excellent tight ends. He's a big time recruiter who also has some coordinator experience. He has great understanding of the big picture of the game. We're very excited to have him on staff as well."

"When you get an opportunity to come to a program with the tradition and history of Florida State, you can't pass that up," added Napier. "Coaching for coach Fisher is really going to be a great opportunity for me to work with a great coach. The timing was right in terms of where this program is headed and it is a great opportunity. I am excited to be a part of the process of working with these players and continuing to build on the championships this group was a part of in 2012."

In addition to Napier, Randy Sanders has been hired to coach the running backs next season. Sanders comes from Kentucky where he has served as the offensive coordinator and QB Coach since 2009. 

"We're very excited to welcome Randy on board," said Fisher. "I've known him for a very long time. He's been one of the best coaches in the country for a while now. He's a tremendous running backs coach and also brings coordinator experience. He's a great recruiter and a great person and will be a tremendous addition to our staff."

"I am very excited to be at Florida State," Sanders via press release. "I have been coaching since 1989, the same year I got married. Right around that time I had a discussion with my wife on where I would like to coach and there were four schools on my list and Florida State was one of those schools. That was one of the first things she reminded me of when the opportunity came along. I have always wanted to coach here.

"I am getting the opportunity to coach with a group of guys, for the most part, that I have known a lot of them and that I have a lot of respect for. I get to work with some of the best players in the country at a school that has some of college football's greatest traditions. There's not a whole lot not to like."

With these final additions, Florida State's coaching staff is complete and can now focus on locking down another top ten recruiting class in the final weeks before national signing day. The Seminoles are still actively pursuing a number of highly touted players, their class is currently ranked 10th in the country by ESPN and could rise as FSU closes on several more targets in the coming weeks.

Here's a final glimpse of how the 'Noles coaching staff will look for the 2013 season:

Jimbo Fisher - Head Coach
James Coley - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Jeremy Pruitt - Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach
Rick Trickett - Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach
Lawrence Dawsey - Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach
Odell Haggins - Defensive Line Coach
Charles Kelly - Linebackers Coach/Special Teams Coordinator
Billy Napier - Tight Ends Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
Randy Sanders - Running Backs Coach
Sal Sunseri - Defensive Ends Coach
Vic Viloria - Strength and Conditioning Coach
Dan Gayton - Offensive Graduate Assistant
David Spurlock - Offensive Graduate Assistant
Addison Lynch - Defensive Graduate Assistant
Joe Scola - Defensive Graduate Assistant

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.

January 14, 2013

Christian Jones to Return to FSU for Senior Year

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Linebacker Christian Jones has made his decision to return to Florida State official, per a release on Seminoles.com. NoleDigest editor Emory Parker reported this news over a week ago, but FSU finally confirmed it on Monday night.

“After a lot of conversations and time thinking about it, I’ve decided to return to Florida State for my senior season,” said Jones. “A lot of guys the past couple of years have helped to turn the program around, and I want to continue to be a part of that process. I’ve always talked with some of the guys I came in with and we’ve always talked about finishing together and that’s also something I wanted to do. This is the best decision for me and my family. I’m looking forward to coming back, working hard, improving my game but also helping Florida State continue with the success we’ve had.”

Jones was the team's leading tackler in 2012 after making the switch to weakside linebacker before the season. His return will bolster a linebacking corps that could have been a extremely thin had he chosen to make the jump. 

New Florida State linebackers coach Charles Kelly will now have a few more options with how the Seminoles line up in 2013. Jones and Telvin Smith are the only two linebackers returning with any considerable experience. Reggie Northrup, Ukeme Eligwe and Terrance Smith are also likely to challenge for playing time. It's possible Karlos Williams could make the move from safety to linebacker too after having an eye-opening performance in relief of Nick Moody during the ACC Championship game.

Jones will likely enter 2013 with some decent preseason hype, having lead a very good defense in tackling the year before. He's also likely to improve his draft stock considerably should he manage to stay healthy.

“I’m excited for Christian to return to Florida State and further his education, playing career and helping put Florida State back at an elite level,” said Jimbo Fisher. “I think his decision shows great commitment to FSU and great commitment to his future. We’re fortunate to have the leadership he brings on and off the field.”

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.

January 12, 2013

Seminoles' 2013 Home Schedule Leaves Something to Be Desired

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It's no secret that a multitude of factors have conspired to hurt sports ticket sales at all levels in the state of Florida. While many of the national pundits claim that Florida is not a good professional sports state, the fact that both the Gators and Seminoles struggled to regularly sell out there home games in the 2012 season was indicative of something more. 

Florida State had just two sellouts in 2012, Clemson and Florida. This year's slate of home games carries no such gems, no highly-touted top-10 matchups that will be surefire draws. This year's home schedule leaves something to be desired.

The Seminoles' out of conference schedule consists of Wofford, Idaho, Nevada and a trip to Gainesville to renew acquaintances with the rival Florida Gators. With the Florida game being away, the other three out of conference games can hardly be considered big sellers.

Yesterday the ACC announced conference opponents for 2013 and did Florida State no favors from a ticket sales standpoint:

2012 ACC Home Opponents

Maryland

NC State

Syracuse

Miami

2012 ACC Road Opponents

Clemson

Boston College

Wake Forest

Pittsburgh

 

Aside from the Miami game, there's not a whole lot to get excited about in terms of the Seminoles home schedule. While there's a very good chance that the Hurricane game will be a sellout, there's just as good a chance that it will be Florida State's ONLY sellout in 2013. That's not an indictment on the fanbase either, Florida has had problems with ticket sales too and empty stadium shots have become the norm at Hurricane home games.

But in terms of likely ticket sales, Florida State can't be thrilled at their prospects in 2013.

The flipside of that is the schedule does set up nicely for FSU to make a run next season should they handle their business against inferior opponents. Outside of Clemson and Florida, there won't be many schools capable of playing up to the Seminoles' level next year. Of course, it will be a much different story if FSU plays down to their opponents as was occasionally the case in 2012.

Regardless though, the 2013 schedule is a mixed bag. It's great from the standpoint of setting Florida State up for a solid season, but not so great if you're trying to sell out Doak...

Check back later today for updates from UNC-FSU at TLCCC...

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.

January 08, 2013

Going Polling: Final Rankings Have Florida State 10th in AP, 8th in Coaches' Poll

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The Final rankings are out and Florida State has completed a top ten finish in both the AP and the Coaches' Poll.

The Seminoles finished the season ranked 10th in the final AP poll, a spot ahead of Clemson and a spot behind UF.

Not surprisingly, Alabama was the unanimous AP national champion, receiving all 59 first place votes and winning their third AP national title in the past four years. The top five rounded out with Oregon, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Georgia. 

In the Coaches' Poll Florida State finished 8th with Clemson 9th and Florida 10th. Gator fans will likely be miffed that they finished behind a team that they beat in their regular season finale, but that's what happens when you phone in a Sugar Bowl performance and end the season on a sour note. 

The Coaches' top five was largely the same, but without Ohio State (who was ineligible because of their postseason ban and the fact the Coaches' poll is used to help tabulate the BCS rankings). Alabama finished number one with all 56 first-place votes, followed by Oregon, Notre Dame, Georgia and Texas A&M (who was 6th in the AP).

No other ACC schools even received votes in the two polls, unless you count future ACC school Louisville which finished 13th in both, and future ACC-affiliate Notre Dame which finished 4th and 3rd, in the AP and Coaches' respectively. 

For what it's worth, Jimbo Fisher will receive a 50k bonus for the top-10 finish. With Florida State's ACC title and BCS win, Fisher's likely up to about 200 grand in bonuses on the season now...

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.

FSU Notebook: Seminoles Have a Wild Day

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Yesterday may go down as one of the strangest days in recent memory for Florida State fans. Despite finishing their season a week earlier in the Discover Orange Bowl with a 31-10 over NIU, Monday proved quite eventful for the Seminole faithful starting early in the morning and continuing on through the late evening. 

Let's recap:

Wilder Has Another Misstep

The day started with the Tallahassee Democrat breaking news that Florida State RB James Wilder Jr. had been arrested on Sunday on a Failure-to-Appear charge stemming from a non-moving, suspended license violation he had been cited with previously. Wilder was booked, released and given a new, January 24th court date. 

The 6-3, 230-pound tailback alleges he never received a notice for the first appearance, something that is actually quite common in this state's legal system (and I imagine many other states as well). Provided he makes the appearance later this month, he is unlikely to miss any time next season or in the Spring and should hopefully be able to stay on the straight and narrow for the rest of his college career. 

Still, not the way most Florida State fans would have chosen to start their day.

Menelik Watson Turns Pro

Things got even better for Seminole fans when Warchant, citing sources close to the player, reported that junior RT Menelik Watson was going to forgo his senior year and turn pro. Watson was a highly touted Juco transfer last season and played solidly for the Seminoles in 2012, but the move still caught many by surprise.

Originally a basketball player at Marist, Watson decided to take up football and played a handful of games at a junior college before coming to Florida State last year. Despite his inexperience, he easily won a starting job on the FSU offensive line and helped the Seminoles to one of the best rushing seasons in the program's storied history. The downside to Watson is that he's extremely raw, despite being 24 he has played fewer than 20 games of football in his entire life and will likely need considerable coaching at the next level in order to make an impact. He does have the skillset needed to make the jump though, and his age as well as family considerations played a role in his decision. 

Georgia Tech DC Charles Kelly Rumored to be Heading to Florida State

Originally Georgia Tech's defensive backs coach, Charles Kelly took over as the interim defensive coordinator mid-season and helped to turn around the Yellow Jacket defense as much as could be done, given the talent they had on it. Kelly would be coming to Florida State to replace Greg Hudson as the linebackers coach. While there is no solid confirmation on this, a number of good sources have already reported it and the move would make sense given Kelly's track record as both a recruiter and with developing players.

One of the early points of concern (at least amongst FSU fans) was that Georgia Tech runs a 3-4 as opposed to FSU's traditional 4-3. But as the DB's coach, that would have limited impact on his coaching style, not to mention Kelly has experience with a 4-3 and like almost every defense in the country these days the Seminoles run more of a multi-defense than a true 4-3 anyway, so that is likely not a serious concern. If Kelly is the guy, he would be a solid addition to the coaching staff and would likely mesh well with new Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt who was already hard at work for the Seminoles in the moments after the Crimson Tide claimed the BCS Championship last night...

Pruitt Flips Big Commitment

Speaking of Pruitt, just minutes after Alabama clinched its third national title in four years, Demarcus Walker a 4-star Alabama commitment decommited from the Tide and announced he would be enrolling at Florida State this morning.

Walker is a 6-4 280-pound strongside defensive end who is rated as the 34th best player in the country by Rivals. Previously, Florida State hadn't even been on Walker's radar, but his relationship with Pruitt (as well as former Tennessee DC and current FSU DE coach Sal Sunseri) put FSU on the map. It was the school's proximity to his hometown of Jacksonville and the potential for his mother to see him play live at Doak that pushed the Seminoles over the top though.

Walker is likely to come in and challenge for playing time immediately. Along with Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher, Florida State now has a trio of extremely talented young DE's. While there is still a little uncertainty as to what impact this could have on DE Davin Bellamy's commitment (Bellamy has told reporters that Dameyune Craig, who recruited him to FSU before leaving for Auburn, indicated the Tigers would come after him hard once the move was final), it's a windfall for the Seminoles and capped what turned out to be a bizarre day for the Florida State faithful.

Check back a little later, I'll have the final update on Florida State's end-of-season poll rankings...

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.

January 07, 2013

It Might Be Time for Florida State to Hire Some Assistant Coaches...

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As the college football season prepares for it's last hurrah tonight in the form of the much-anticipated BCS national championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame in Miami, Florida State is facing a number of questions of its own. 

In the weeks following the regular season, the Seminoles have lost several of their assistants to other programs. Most notably Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops and Defensive Ends coach DJ Eliot left to take better positions at the University of Kentucky. Stoops will now be the Wildcats' head coach while Eliot will be the defensive coordinator.

Both were exceptional in their time at FSU. Tonight Stoops' replacement, Jeremy Pruitt, will coach his last game as the defensive backs coach at Alabama. Former Tennessee DC, Sal Sunseri, was already working with the 'Noles in the lead up to the Orange Bowl. They will replace Stoops and Eliot respectively (with Pruitt as the DC, Sunseri as the DE coach).

But that still leaves a few vacancies on the Florida State coaching staff. Vacancies that need to be filled sooner rather than later as National Signing Day approaches and any uncertainty surrounding a program can be used to recruit agaisnt it in the final weeks as teams and coaches make their final push on high profile players.

Eddie Gran, the running backs coach and special teams coordinator has accepted the job as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator. Dameyune Craig, the QB coach and one of the most highly-touted recruiters on Jimbo Fisher's staff will be taking his talents to Auburn. And though he has not accepted another position yet, Greg Hudson, the LB coach, is all but gone as well (even if he stayed it's likely he would be moved into an administrative position after Erik Korem followed Stoops and Eliot to Kentucky). 

That's three assistants at key position groups who need replacing and fast.

With National Signing Day now less than a month away (February 6th), Florida State really needs to solidify its staff and start making their final push on a number of recruits. 

Don't think that the coaching turnover matters? 6-5 235-pound Defensive End Davin Bellamy, a Florida State commit in the ESPN 300 was recruited by Dameyune Craig at FSU and recently told reporters that he was informed the Tigers would be coming after him hard once Craig made the move back to Auburn.

Uncertainty can be a major detriment in the final weeks of recruiting season when a prospect may have two or three schools all rated equally and is looking for even the tiniest of factors to push one over the top.

Jimbo Fisher has maintained he has a shortlist of coaching candidates for every position and that he's already begun to investigate replacements. He moved quickly to replace Stoops and Eliot, but the other vacancies have now been open for a while with little or no news of any possible replacements. 

That probably needs to change or the openings will start working against the 'Noles in the final weeks leading up to National Signing day. Right now FSU has a top-12 recruiting class (11th per ESPN), and while that's still a good year by most schools' standards, given the precedents Jimbo Fisher has set in his first three seasons, it's a down year by Seminole standards.

It might be time for Florida State to hire some assistant coaches...

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.

January 04, 2013

Bjoern Werner Speaks: "This is my Ultimate Dream"

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Bjoern Werner bid farewell to Florida State this afternoon. The über-talented German-born defensive end announced he would enter the NFL draft yesterday and forgo his senior season at FSU.

"I’m really excited," Werner told reporters via conference call. "I took a few days to talk to coaches, Coach Fisher, [former FSU DE] coach Eliot, and just based on the performance of the last couple years, I felt pretty good for this year’s draft, hopefully."

Werner is being modest, he's considered a top-five prospect for April's draft and the top player at his position. Some draft projections have him going as high as second overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

"Projections are projections," cautioned Werner. "It’s still an honor just to have people think that highly of me. But there’s a long process until the draft and I’m trying to do everything to be one of the top players taken."

Fortunately for Werner, he has a good head start. At Florida State the 6-4 255-pound DE was dominant over the course of the last two seasons, racking up 20 sacks including an ACC-leading 13 in the 2012 season. Werner is stout against the run, dynamic as a pass-rusher and is also quite talented at getting his hands up into the passing lanes and batting down balls. 

He admits he knew he would not be back to Florida State immediately following his 3.5 sacks performance in Florida State's regular season finale against Florida. He waited to make the announcement until after the bowl game though.

"Before the ACC Championship game I started looking into it a lot," said Werner. "I started talking to coach Fisher during that [dead period] before the bowl game, then I went back to Germany before the bowl game and talked to my parents. Basically I made my decision before the [Orange Bowl] but I didn’t want to say anything because stuff can happen during the bowl game too.”

Like for instance, getting injured. 

Werner's close relationship with Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine, both of whom suffered major setbacks to their NFL ambitions this year, had an impact on his decision to make the jump too.

"Me and Brandon are really close, we talked a lot during the season about it," Werner admitted. "From his standpoint he advised me to leave... Him being the example of what can happen when you come back."

Jenkins wasn't the only one, Jimbo Fisher also told Werner that he would not gain much by coming back for his senior season, that he couldn't possibly improve his draft stock more and that it was in his best interest to turn pro.

So credit Fisher for having the integrity to put the best interest of his players over the best interests of his program.

"There’s not much left in college for me," added Werner. "I won the ACC, I won the Orange Bowl, it’s just a nice way to go out."

Now Bjoern will head down to Bradenton, Florida and train for the draft at IMG Football Academy (which is directed by former FSU Heisman winner Chris Weinke). Werner has signed with CAA and agent Jimmy Sexton (who also represents Fisher and former FSU-DC Mark Stoops). 

"This was my ultimate dream when I came from Germany, to play in the NFL," said Werner. "I worked hard for it and I never imagined I could leave a year early, but I set up myself through my Florida State career pretty [well]."

The hardest thing Werner may have to do between now and April might not even be on a football field, it's likely going to be explaining to his family exactly what it is he's doing now in the months leading up to the draft.

It's all foreign to them.

"[My parents thought] I was in the NFL already," joked Werner. "I had to explain there’s a whole five-month process you have to go through before you get drafted.

"It’s so hard to explain the whole process, they’re used to soccer and soccer players just pick their team by whoever gives them more money. It’s just hard to explain the whole stuff with rounds and how they already have the money set, you already know what you’re making by what pick you are in the draft. You finish up, you can’t pick your team. Everything is just the opposite of soccer. It’s hard to explain."

That may be the case, but come April when Werner marches across the stage at Radio City Music Hall and poses for a picture with Roger Goodell, NFL jersey in hand, it will make a lot more sense.

 

Follow Patrik Nohe on twitter for all the latest Florida State Seminoles news and updates.


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