Florida State wrapped its practice week on Saturday afternoon. The team flies out tomorrow, headed to Pittsburgh to welcome the Panthers to the ACC in a primetime affair at Heinz Field.
FSU comes out of its camp relatively healthy, with just two players down for the season and just two expected to miss the game on Monday night. More than anything though, head coach Jimbo Fisher says his Seminoles are just amped to play a real game.
“I think we are starting to get bored a little bit [by the time the first game comes]," said Fisher. "I keep reminding them – because you want to play so much – you can’t do that. You just need to remember to keep preparing every day and take all this time. What’s going to be important between now and game time is how much we focus and really dot ‘I’s’ and cross ‘T’s,’ and stay locked in. I think it’s going to be very critical.”
Below, is Florida State's injury list for week one:
Out for Season:
TE Kevin Haplea (knee) WR Jarred Haggins (knee)
Out for Game:
TE Jeremy Kerr (knee) OL Austin Barron (foot)
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Just a few days from their season opener on the road at Pitt, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher received some bad news: redshirt freshman Mario Pender is not academically eligible for the upcoming season.
"I found out yesterday," said Fisher. "This had nothing to with the depth chart – I found out late last night – (Mario) Pender is in school, he is going to be in school, but he received one grade too less so he is ineligible. He cannot play (this season).
"He’s still in school. He’s still participating on the team and still practicing. We were thinking that he was going to be okay, but it comes back one grade short. They thought everything was good; everything was okay but the actual final grade came back different so we won’ t have him. It’s unfortunate. He was having a great camp, too.”
Pender has had a tough time since arriving in Tallahassee in the Spring of 2012. The former Cape Coral standout graduated high school a semester early in order to enroll for the Spring semester and get a jump on what would have been his freshman season. Instead, Pender suffered a sports hernia, had surgery and missed the year.
While Pender was active this past Spring, he was held out of the start of camp as Florida State waited on one of his grades to post. Then on Thursday, Fisher announced Pender would not be eligible academically and would miss his second straight season.
In Pender's place, true freshman Ryan Green is likely to be the guy getting carries. Green - a former St. Pete Catholic standout - was highly recruited this past off-season. He has speed and plenty of ability, as Fisher mentioned during his Wednesday press conference, what he does not have is experience.
Now with Lonnie Pryor, Debrale Smiley and Chris Thompson graduated, and Pender out, the slack will need to be taken up by James Wilder Jr., Devonta Freeman and Chad Abrams even more.
Florida State has not had a 1,000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn left Tallahassee. Given the newfound concerns about depth at that position, this could be year though.
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On Wednesday morning Florida State University announced its 13 member 2013-14 baseball recruiting class. Five of the players in the class were drafted this past year. The group consists of 11 players from Florida and two from Georgia.
“The 2013-14 class is very versatile with a great deal of athleticism which is something very hard to find these days,” said assistant coach and Seminole recruiting coordinator Mike Martin, Jr. via as Florida State press release. “We will look to play a faster brand of baseball now and in the future due to the athletic make-up of this class.
"The pitchers are very polished and we will look for them to come in and help us right away as a starter, in mid-relief and even in closing situations. The position players give us a solid nucleus for the years to come. This group also provides above average power at the plate but with the ability to run. We are really excited about this year's group and are anxious to see how they develop and mature throughout the season.”
The biggest pull of the entire class is Ben Deluzio, the Marlins' 3rd round draft choice (80th overall). Deluzio- along with returning senior Justin Gonzalez- are a big part of why SS Giovanny Alfonzo transfered out of FSU this past Summer.
Also from FSU's press release, here is the list of the incoming players as well as comments from Martin Jr.:
Here is a closer look at the 2013-14 Florida State Baseball recruiting class:
Alec Byrd, Miami Shores, FL (St. Thomas Aquinas High School) LHP, L/L, 6-3, 175 *1st Team Louisville Slugger All-American *1st Team FACA All-American *Sun Sentinel Player of the Year *Miami Herald Pitcher of the Year *Drafted 37th Round (1125 overall) by the Cincinnati Reds *High school coach: Troy Cameron
Assistant coach Mike Martin, Jr. on Byrd: “Alec is an extremely polished left-handed pitcher that can throw three pitches for strikes. His fastball has been clocked anywhere between 87-89 mph and can touch 91 on occasion. We have really big plans for him as a true freshman.”
Taylor Blatch, Stuart, FL (Jensen Beach High School) RHP, R/R, 5-11, 160 *Perfect Game National Rank: 132 *1st Team All-Area *Drafted 27th Round (800 overall) by the Minnesota Twins *High school coach: Chris Vaccaro
Martin, Jr. on Blatch: “Taylor is a right-handed pitcher with an electric arm. He can get his fastball up to 94 mph. Taylor is another guy that will make an instant impact on the mound this year. He is also a very athletic player that can get off the mound and make a play.”
Ben DeLuzio, Windermere, FL (The First Academy) INF, R/R, 6-3, 190 *FACA All-Star Game MVP *Drafted 3rd Round (80 overall) by the Miami Marlins *High school coach: Steve Sagraves
Martin, Jr. on DeLuzio: “Ben is one of the highest drafted players to step foot on Florida State’s campus in quite a while. He is an extremely athletic kid that can play infield or outfield. Offensively, Ben has a lot of power from the right side. He is a guy that can step in and help us right away.”
Danny De La Calle, Miami, FL (Miami Dade College) C, R/R, 6-3, 220 *MDC: 1st Team All-Southern Conference *Ferguson High School: Miami Herald All-Dade County Second Team (2010), First Team (2011) *Drafted 33rd Round (1000 overall) by the Texas Rangers *Junior College coach: Danny Price
Martin, Jr. on De La Calle: “Daniel might be one of the most polished catch and throw guys in the junior college ranks in the state of Florida. He has a cannon for an arm and has great hands behind the plate.”
Derek Fritz, Parkland, FL (Stoneman Douglas High School) C/1B, R/R, 6-1, 220 *FACA All-Star Game *Rawlings All-Region 2nd Team *Miami Herald All-Broward 8A-6A First Team DH *High school coach: Todd FitzGerald
Martin, Jr. on Fritz: “Derek is a right-handed hitting catcher that is a very strong kid. He has plus power from the right side. Derek throws the ball well and does a great job of running a pitch staff.”
Nick Graganella, Tallahassee, FL (Tallahassee Community College) OF, R/R, 5-8, 175 *TCC: FCSAA Panhandle All-Conference Team *North Florida Christian School: Two-time All-Area and All-District selection *All-AAU National All-Tournament Team 2011 *Junior College coach: Mike McCloud
Martin, Jr. on Graganella: “Nick has outstanding speed. He has a strong, compact swing which can translate into power at the Division I level. He is a very good outfielder that can cover a lot of ground. He likes to play the speed game with his ability to bunt.”
M.T. Minacci, Tallahassee, FL (North Florida Christian School) RHP/INF, R/R, 6-0, 170 *FACA 3A All-State Team *Rawlings 1st Team All-American *Drafted 20th Round (589 overall) by the Colorado Rockies *High school coach: Mike Posey
Martin, Jr. on Minacci: “M.T. is a two-way guy that will serve as both a right-handed pitcher and an infielder that can play multiple positions. On the mound, his fastball has reached 94 mph. M.T. is also a very athletic kid that has very good speed.”
Hank Truluck, Ocala, FL (Forest High School) INF/OF, R/R, 6-0, 190 *2012 & 2013 1st Team All-Conference *Batted .300 senior year with 18 RBI and 19 R *High school coach: Wayne Yancey
Martin, Jr. on Truluck: “Hank is a right-handed hitter who is a very versatile player. He can play infield or outfield and is an above average runner. Hank will be a contributor on this team and will be a good player of us.”
Ed Voyles, Atlanta, GA (Holy Innocents Episcopal School) RHP, R/R, 6-7, 205 *Perfect Game National Ranking: 290 *Rawlings All-Southeast 1st Team *High school coach: DC Aiken
Martin, Jr. on Ed Voyles: “The Voyles twins are splitting images of each other. Ed is a right-handed pitcher that can get his fastball up to 91 mph. He has an above average breaking ball and will provide a great deal of depth to our pitching staff this upcoming season. Ed was also a tremendous basketball player in high school.”
Jim Voyles, Atlanta, GA (Holy Innocents Episcopal School) RHP, R/R, 6-7, 205 *Perfect Game National Ranking: 295 *Rawlings All-Southeast 1st Team *High school coach: DC Aiken
Martin, Jr. on Jim Voyles: “Jim is very similar to his brother Ed in that his fastball reaches 91 mph. He has a plus change-up and an above average breaking ball. Along with his brother Ed, was a very good high school basketball player as well.
Andy Ward, Oviedo, FL (Oviedo High School) RHP, R/R, 6-3, 200 *2012 Perfect Game National East MVP Pitcher *2011 WWBA 16U MVP Pitcher *Miami Herald All-Broward 8A-6A First Team DH *Missed 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery *High school coach: Harold Hitt
Martin, Jr. on Ward: “Andy is a right-handed pitcher that is coming off Tommy John surgery this past spring. Before the surgery, he was ranked as one of the best right-handed pitchers in the country. Andy has a fastball that has been clocked at 93 mph with a wipe-out slider. When we finally get him healthy, Andy will make an immediate impact on this team.”
Gage West, Tallahassee, FL (Lincoln High School) C/OF, L/R, 6-1, 205 *Two-time All-Big Bend selection *Perfect Game 2nd Team All-American *FHSAA All-State Team *FACA Region 1 Player of the Year *High school coach: Joe Vallese
Martin, Jr on West: “Gage is a left-handed hitting catcher/outfield from right here in Tallahassee. He has above average power and is a very polished hitter. Gage runs very well and is a very athletic player.”
Will Zirzow, Jacksonville, FL (The Bolles School) RHP, R/R, 6-5, 220 *Under Armour Preseason All-American *Two sport star at Bolles received FBS offers to play tight end *High school coach: Mike Boswell
Martin, Jr. on Zirzow: “Will is a right-handed pitcher with a fastball that reaches 89 mph. He is a big, strong, physical player that also exceled in football at The Bolles School in Jacksonville – the same school the produced DJ Stewart.”
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Florida State's first depth chart of the young season was released shortly after the team took the practice fields today, just before 4 o'clock. If you haven't had a chance to check out the Seminoles' two-deep depth chart, you can click here to take a look.
There were some surprises in the listed starters and reserves, most notably Eddie Goldman will be one of the starting defensive ends while Dan Hicks is listed as the starting strong-side linebacker (or the SAM).
This marks the third position in as many years for Hicks. The 6-4 260-pounder from Oxford, Mississippi was a defensive end at the start of his Seminole career before switching to tight end last season. He missed the year with a knee injury though and switched sides again during Spring. He was a presumptive starter at defensive end entering August, but will start September standing up at linebacker against the Pitt Panthers.
“Guys, Dan can run," said Jimbo Fisher after practice. "Dan’s a 110 [meter] high hurdle champion in Mississippi. You guys forget that Dan can cover."
Aside from Goldman at defensive end and Hicks at linebacker, the defense looked about like you would expect it to. Karlos Williams is listed as the backup free safety but figures to see the field plenty (just as all the DB's do).
Meanwhile, Jalen Ramsey has played well enough to be listed alongside Nick Waisome– last year's starter– as a second string corner. While Waisome has been working back from injury, Fisher was quick to assert that it wasn't Waisome slipping that has the two even, Ramsey has just been "that good."
Two other true freshman, EJ Levenberry and Matthew Thomas, are also listed on the two-deep depth chart on defense. Both are listed as back-up linebackers.
"All three of those guys are very high on the depth chart. They did a really good job, they came in, they’re smart. What the three of them all have in common: they don’t make mistakes, they’re very intelligent, they learn very well plus the athletic ability and size and speed," said Fisher.
"They learned and picked up the system, played hard, competed well and they earned a great job.”
Offensively, expect to see a heavy dose of freshmen in the receiving rotation. Jesus "Bobo" Wilson and Isaiah Jones are both listed on the depth chart and Levonte "Kermit" Whitfield should factor in offensively some during the 2013 season as well.
The rest of the offense looks like expected, the lone potential trouble spot being at right tackle where redshirt senior walk-on Jonathan Wallace backs up Bobby Hart.
Fisher was quick to remind reporters on Tuesday that this is just one game though and things will change week to week. He also added that the team is relatively healthy right now heading into week one.
“We’ve been very pleased, typical sore and banged but everybody should be ready by gametime," said Fisher. "The little bumps and bruises are healing up from camp.”
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On Tuesday afternoon, Florida State released the first depth chart of the season. There are a few surprises here, most notably Dan Hicks will be starting at the Sam linebacker position and Eddie Goldman is one of the team's starting defensive ends. Take a look at the entire depth chart below and I will be back with an in-depth look later tonight.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes' first season at Florida State is over before it ever even got started. The Seminoles' top recruit will not be eligible to play even a single minute during the 2013-14 season as a result of the NCAA reportedly not accepting an entire grade level's worth of classes from his sophomore year of high school.
"Following a review by the NCAA Eligibility Center, it was determined that some of the coursework Xavier completed during his high school enrollment could not be used to satisfy NCAA Division I initial-eligibility requirements," the NCAA said in a statement received by Florida State.
"The NCAA has allowed Xavier to enroll immediately at Florida State and receive athletics scholarship, however, he will not be permitted to practice or compete during his first year of enrollment."
This sounds like a rough deal on the part of the NCAA. Unfortunately, this time it really isn't. True, the NCAA moves with startling quickness on matters like this while taking several years to sort through much more serious allegations (like, for instance, the ones currently looming over the Miami Hurricanes' season which involve illegal benefits, a renegade boosters and the words "sex boat party"). But academic integrity is important and in this case it was neither FSU, nor the NCAA who are in the wrong.
Instead the fault lies with a system built around prep basketball that allows AAU coaches to form "high schools" that are essentially little more than glorified basketball camps. Rathan-Mayes ran into that buzzsaw his sophomore year of high school when he attended a school called, "Christian Faith Center Academy" under the auspices of infamous AAU coach Ro Russell.
Rathan-Mayes' mother reportedly sold her house to be able to afford her son's schooling at Christian Faith Center Academy and then later at Huntington Prep. She may now want to consider hiring a lawyer because it seems the term "school" was applied to Christian Faith Center Academy somewhat liberally– at least in the eyes of the NCAA.
"A source says the NCAA did not accept a full year of credits that Xavier Rathan-Mayes took at Christian Faith," reports Evan Daniels of Scout.com.
Per Rathan-Mayes in a March 2012 interview with a Canandian television program, the school had no set study schedule and no academic supervision.
"We were basically on our own," Rathan-Mayes said. "Yes, basketball was everything. That's all we did. School was there, but it was basically basketball, nothing else."
Now, unfortunately for Rathan-Mayes, that year has caught up to him in a vicious way and Florida State will be without one of their most promising incoming young players for the entirety of the upcoming season. The Seminoles have exhausted their appeals process on XRM's behalf and both parties are no resigned to XRM making his debut during the 2014-15 school year instead.
It's worth noting that freshmen typically don't make a great impact in Leonard Hamilton's system, but Rathan-Mayes came highly touted and at the very least some of the excitement surrounding the upcoming FSU basketball season has been dimmed as the school year gets kicked off.
You can catch the segment on Christian Faith Center Academy starting at 31:30 in the clip below:
Florida State has its next starting quarterback, his name is Jameis Winston.
This seems like a fairly unsurprising piece of news but that really does a disservice to just how much Jacob Coker challenged for the starting job. Coker was hampered by injuries during last Spring's camp and never got a shot to really make his own impression. When Jimbo Fisher let him state his case during preseason camp he didn't falter.
"He looked like a totally new guy," said Lamarcus Joyner. "He had the best camp I've seen [from him] since he got on campus."
And Fisher took his time to decide, but on Friday afternoon he was ready to announce EJ Manuel's successor.
“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to go through. I say this and this is not coach talk, we truly have two very good quarterbacks. And guys, I’d feel very comfortable with either one of them in the game," said Fisher. "But, we named the starter, it’ll be Jameis. I’m very comfortable with that but I’m also very comfortable with Jake’s performance too.”
There are a couple interesting points to look at from this QB news. Aside from the fact that the Jameis Winston Era has officially begun at Florida State, there are two key takeaways from this race.
First of all, Jacob Coker must be one heck of a quarterback because with all of the factors that were in Winston's favor, it would have been very easy to just name him the starter and avoid a whole load of potential backlash issues that would have come with picking Coker.
FSU's fanbase really couldn't have been much more overtly Pro-Jameis over the course of the past six months. Since baseball season the Seminole faithful have been enamored with Winston's potential, it was clear who they wanted. But Fisher really didn't seem to mind taking some of that headache on. It may have just been posturing, but it's also quite possible Coker really did force Fisher to take a look and almost unseated Winston for the job.
By all accounts- coming from both players and coaches- Coker was excellent.
If Coker is as gifted as advertised, he may already be looking at his options to play elsewhere. Depending on his course-load the next two semesters, he could attempt to graduate early and avoid the year-long penalty that typically comes with transferring between colleges. Otherwise his options to see the field may be limited- provided Winston doesn't falter.
On Friday though, as Fisher announced his decision, Coker looked as committed to Florida State as ever. On the far field, off in the distance behind where Fisher spoke, Coker was the last man off the field as he stayed late to throw a few more balls while the final moments of daylight faded.
The other takeaway from this is purely a recruiting angle. Everybody around the country had pegged Jameis Winston the starter by halftime of the Florida State Spring Game. Everyone except Jimbo Fisher who- at least on the basis of outward appearances- actually allowed competition to dictate the winner of his QB competition.
Now, we can't know for certain how things really worked when the gates of the Dunlap Athletic Facility closed and they kicked reporters out, but the optics were solid. There was Fisher, day after day, giving the same refrain about competition and letting players earn their jobs.
That plays very well on the recruiting trail.
Now Fisher can sit in the living room of any prospect in the country and no matter who would be in front of that young man on the depth chart when he arrives on campus in Tallahassee, there will be a bit more weight to the promise that every job is open and the best players will always play at Florida State.
Whether any of that is actually the case, who knows?
But it looks good.
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Florida State University announced its men's basketball schedule on Thursday afternoon. The 2013-14 FSU home schedule features several games against high profile teams and should bring plenty of talented basketball to Tallahassee next season.
“Every team in the ACC has improved itself,” said head coach Leonard Hamilton in a Florida State press release. “Every game we play is going to be exciting and with the addition of the new members of the ACC our fans are going to want to get the best seats to see the best teams in the best conference in Tallahassee.”
Florida State will host Syracuse and Notre Dame for the first time in school history this upcoming season– both are new to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Fighting Irish will make their inaugural trip to Tallahassee January 21st while the Orange will be the Seminoles' regular season finale on Sunday, March 9th.
North Carolina also visits Tallahassee again this season, their Monday night tilt with Florida State on February 17th will mark the Seminoles' debut on ESPN's Big Monday– now featuring the ACC after the Big East split up. Duke, however, skips the Tucker Center this year, the Seminoles will travel instead to Durham on January 25th.
After starting the season with a couple of exhibitions, FSU plays Jacksonville at home, travels to Orlando to visit UCF and squares off with UT-Martin back in Tallahassee. Then the Seminoles depart to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Shootout along with Georgetown, Kansas State, Michigan, VCU, Charlotte, Long Beach State and Northeastern. FSU is guaranteed three games there, one with VCU, one against either Long Beach or Michigan and one to be determined by the results in San Juan.
Other notable dates include a visit to Florida on November 29th– the eve of the annual UF-FSU football game– a trip to Minnesota to seek redemption for last season's Big10/ACC Challenge loss at the hands of those very same Gophers and a couple games with defending ACC champs, Miami.
Things could be tough this year for the Seminoles with 20 of their 30 games coming against teams that played in national postseason tournaments last year. But FSU returns four starters this season– including potential All-American Forward Okaro White– and should be dramatically improved from last year.
Florida State was scrimmaging for the second– and final– time of their preseason camp on Wednesday afternoon and there were two major themes throughout the afternoon.
The first was the quarterback competiton. All Spring and for the past few weeks of August, Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston have been vying to replace EJ Manuel as the next starting QB at Florida State. Winston looked to have an edge in Spring and is the fan favorite at the end of camp, but whether he is actually the starter remains a question.
A question that Wednesday was purportedly supposed to answer. Of course Jimbo Fisher wasn't going to announce a starter right at the end of the scrimmage, but you figured you might be able to get some kind of indication over which way Fisher was leaning based on his comments, right?
“I will wait to [watch] the film. I was pleased," said Fisher, before putting on his best poker face. "I thought (Sean) Maguire played well when he got in the game.
"But I was pleased with Jameis and Jacob today just [from] standing on the sidelines standpoint. I’m sure there are some things I’ll see when I look at the film, but I thought both guys handled the huddle well, made plays, got the ball down the field vertically and dumped it off.
"I was very pleased with how they played in the scrimmage. I’m going to look and we are going to make a decision. I know one thing – we have got two very good quarterbacks.”
So there should be an announcement soon on that, right?
“I won’t put a timetable, but it could happen," said Fisher. "I’ll wait and look at the film and we will talk to the staff again. We have talked two days as a staff and kind of reevaluate things- what everybody’s opinion is, what they are seeing- and we’ll have a staff discussion and we will go through it.”
So there you have it. Florida State should have an announcement on a starting quarterback... soon-ish.
The other theme of yesterday's scrimmage was the health of the team. Florida State is fairly thin at a couple of key positions– namely their offensive line and receivers– and it was evident they are trying to keep the players at those positions healthy.
Several players were in blue 'limited-contact' jerseys as a precaution in addition to a couple of players being held out completely to nurse injuries as Florida State prepares to close camp. Rashad Greene and Jacob Fahrenkrug were both held out on Wednesday with minor injuries and DT Derrick Mitchell was given the day off to rest his back.
“[It] was bothering him a little bit. It’s that time," said Fisher. "The big guys have been getting pounded on for about 16-18 practices. He’ll be back.”
Fisher did say the team managed to avoid anything major on the injury front during Wednesday's scrimmage. The team is off on Thursday.
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The Associated Press' preseason rankings are out and the Florida State Seminoles will start the season as the 11th best team in the nation in the eyes of the AP.
Ahead of FSU, the Clemson Tigers are the 8th ranked team in the country while the rival Florida Gators are one spot ahead of the Seminoles at 10th. Alabama was the overwhelming choice for number one, followed by Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Georgia.
While the SEC had five schools in the top ten alone, FSU and Clemson represented the lone ACC schools to make the top 25. Clemson was voted the favorite to win the conference at last month's ACC media day.
The coaches' poll, which came out a couple of weeks ago, has Florida State 12th to begin the year. The Seminoles begin their season September 2nd on the road at Pittsburgh.
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