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NoleGameday

Spring Practice Focus: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

This is another installment of NoleGameday’s spring practice focus on the Florida State football team. The Seminoles are set to kick off their spring practice slate on Monday, March 4, culminating with the annual Garnet & Gold game at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 6. We’ll be breaking down each position on offense and defense while also highlighting the special teams unit leading up to the first day of practice. This piece will focus on the wide receivers and tight ends

Being one of the “Big 3” schools in Florida the ‘Noles should never hurt at the receiver position. The state is abundant in this talent and it reflects itself in the roster. Willie Taggart has replenished the roster with young blood and by also utilizing players Jimbo waited too long to use. Taggart has also hired former Nole receiver Ron Dugans to coach the position, a move that many Seminole fans loved and will benefit us greatly in all aspects of the game. The tight end position suffered a casualty as Nasier Upshur- a prospect I liked, chose to be closer to home and transfer. But the room is still athletic and has playmaking ability. Now let’s take a deep dive into the position heading into the 2019 season.

Departures

The only scholarship receiver FSU is losing would be Nyqwan “Noonie” Murray. Much like Deondre Francois, Noonie went from fan favorite to fan outcast with the quickness. After being an underrated player out of high school he made his mark quickly with clutch performances throughout his career. The ones that come to mind are NC State on the road, Clemson at home, and of course the Orange Bowl vs. Michigan.

But he offset these preformances with locker room antics and seemingly disappearing in large stretches in his Junior and Senior seasons. By the end of his career, many were relieved that he was off the roster but he was still a solid college reciever and outperformed his ranking. Look out for him at the NFL Combine this weekend and support a fellow Nole!

Returnees

FSU returns a laundry list of young receivers this season. I’ll list them by previous production and set expectations for the upcoming season.

Tamorrion “Scary” Terry

The explosive WR1 from a small town in South Georgia certainly made his mark in his first year on the field. After being (wrongly) redshirted by Jimbo Fisher he made several huge plays for FSU this past season. He averaged over 21 yards per catch and showed natural hands and an explosive vertical. Terry’s speed however, was his best attribute. Routinely burning coverages deep and making coordinators pay for calling the wrong alignments. A prime example of this is his 75- yard touchdown catch to beat Boston College- perhaps the best play of FSU’s season. Expect him to continually improve and blow up on the national stage this season. Watch closely to see if his route running improves under the watch of Coach Dugans.

Keith Gavin

The Redshirt Senior from local Wakulla is a frustrating player for FSU fans. He’s a player who has the potential to be a legitimate high round draft pick but just hasn’t got there. He will show you two flashes for every ten mistakes, but those flashes always give you hope. He was overtaken by younger players as the season went on and those players will only get better. It’s put up or shut up time for Keith Gavin. If he finally steps up to his full potential FSU can have one of the most dangerous WR corps in the country.

DJ Matthews

DJ is simply one of the most talented receivers on the roster. He has highlight reel ability and unreal athleticism for his stature. Through his first two years he and James Blackman have seemingly struck up a strong connection- his only touchdown catch last year came from Blackman. He’s shown the ability to be a dynamic slot receiver and he’s waited his turn behind Noonie. Matthews is also one of the best punt returners in the country and is a major threat for the opposition. With Blackman being QB1 it’s time for the junior to step up and be the player FSU fans know he can be.

Tre’shaun Harrison

The dynamic sophomore from Washington is a big play waiting to happen. During his short stints on the field last year he showed great speed and elusiveness and is due for more burn this year in the Briles-fueled offense. His touchdown against Wake Forest summed up his overall skillset perfectly- he ran a crisp out route, used soft hands to bring the ball in, then commenced to press the circle button on his way to the end zone. Looked smooth doing it too. Expect him to have an excellent spring and put up numbers this season. After all, he didn’t come all the way from Washington to be subpar.

Keyshawn Helton

Keyshawn Helton or “Three Star Key” as I like to call him, was an excellent surprise for FSU fans last year. The 5-foot-8 receiver showed quickness and grit during his time on the field. Exclamating his mark on the season by standing up a Boston College defender while running down the sideline-causing him to lose his helmet. He’s also versatile and can be a punt returner as well. Look for Helton to carve out a nice niche in this offense and make plays that leave an impact on the fans.

Ontario Wilson

A package deal out of high school with Terry, Jimbo left FSU with two gems from South Georgia. Wilson came in as a DB but was quickly changed to wideout last spring. He has good size and excellent speed and acceleration. Wilson is also a savvy route runner and has showcased good hands in game. He can play any WR position and that will be a huge key to his playing time this year. Look out for Wilson, he may be a spring surprise.

Warren Thompson

The RS Freshman from Tampa is a future outside receiver for the Noles. He’s adept at jump balls and has a great release at the line. The work he puts into his craft during the off-season will determine his snaps. His stature and build are prototype and he’s quicker than you think. The staff and fanbase alike love his potential, now it’s time to start putting it together.

Jordan Young

“Abusement Park” is yet another South Georgia gem that Taggart and Company stole from Tennessee on NSD last year. An injury in spring forced him to redshirt and slowed his development. However, he has unlimited potential and a freakish control of his body at this stage. He needs to be more refined in his route running and he’ll challenge for reps.

D’Marcus Adams

The redshirt freshman is a Florida product with a need for speed. He has the perfect size for a slot but his best route just happens to be the Go. Adams needs to round out his route tree and improve his hands to crack the lineup this upcoming season but he still has loads of potential, especially as a deep threat. Even though his hands are inconsistent he has a knack for the spectacular catch as well so keep that in mind. If he develops as he should he will get quality snaps this season.

All in all this Wide receiver corp is armed and dangerous if everything goes according to plan and they start healthy. Ron Dugans certainly has the ingredients, now it’s time to bake the cake.

Tight Ends

Tre McKitty

The athletic specimen from Tampa has had his highs and lows here. From his game clinching TD early on to seemingly being fazed out of the offense by the end of the season. McKitty has all the potential to be an elite tight end and we’ve seen those flashes. He needs to focus on the finite parts of his game and work on his hands so he can make the tough catches. If he puts it all together he’s a special talent, and he has the time to do so.

Camren McDonald

The California tight end is an impressive specimen-a common theme among the position group. His long frame combined with his agility and quickness make him a legitimate threat this upcoming season and beyond. As he himself pointed out- when Briles was at FAU two tight ends led them in receiving yardage. His high school film also showed strong hands and major jump ball ability. McDonald is a guy the fanbase will be lovin’ all year if he progresses as I think he will.

Alexander Marshall

The 6-foot-8 freak from Massachusetts is due. After redshirting his first year and getting no playing time last year he’s getting a fresh start in impressing new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. He has great movement skills and good hands and it’s time for him to put it together. With the position group lean it’s imperative we can count on all of them to contribute. Marshall has as much potential as anyone in this group and it’s time to show that on Saturdays.

Gabe Nabers

The upperclassman has a lot of athleticism but needs to be more consistently aware of his surroundings especially as a pass catcher. He’s a decent inline blocker which will be counted upon this season.

As a whole, this group is a room filled with untapped potential. Telly Lockette needs to get them locked in and get the best out of his guys this season. FSU opponents will have a hard time at stopping anything through the air if so. Assuming of course that the offensive line is average… or even below average.

Spring Outlook

The talent that is being afforded to Kendal Briles is unlike any he’s had before save for a Kendall Wright or KD Cannon. This group if healthy has a cliche “sky of the limit” potential that will only become more lethal in this offense. If Florida State can get dependable snaps from everyone not named Terry then opposing defenses are in trouble. Out of any position group on the team save for defense back-this room has the most potential.

Previous spring practice focuses:
– Quarterbacks
– Running Backs


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