By Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com
Running Backs Recap:
The future is bright in the backfield.
And following Smith's departure to the NFL, they kept it moving - literally - during the spring practice period.
Atop the depth chart as FSU's top two tailbacks, Thomas and Jones gouged the defense throughout the spring and consistently moved the chains during scrimmages. Using the stellar play of the offensive line as their guide, Thomas and Jones provided a glimpse of what the Seminoles' one-two punch at running back will look like in 2009.
Penciled in as FSU's starting running back, Thomas frequently accrued large gains on the ground. The Jacksonville, Fla. native's uncanny ability to elude the first tackler and squeeze past defenders was on display throughout the spring as he showed that his penchant for making something out of nothing was not just a fluke last season.
As for Jones -- the clearly underrated recruit coming out of Middleton High School in Tampa, Fla. a year ago -- he showed during the spring just how much promise he has after a freshman season that was limited because of an ankle injury. Jones deceptive speed and athleticism caused problems for the defense on more than one occasion throughout the spring practice period.
Both youngsters unfortunately closed out spring practices with an unspectacular showing in the Garnet & Gold game.
But one performance isn't indicative of just how talented the Seminoles' running backs happen to be as it was just one bump on an otherwise smooth and successful overall showing in their first-ever spring in Tallahassee.
As for the fullbacks, redshirt junior Marcus Sims and Seddrick Holloway have proved the last few seasons that they can handle the duties that are required of lead-backs in Jimbo Fisher's offense and that was no different in the spring.
Sims also displayed throughout spring practices that he has the skills and body-type to be FSU's primary short-yardage-type rusher that specializes in getting those difficult, up-the-middle styles of runs.
What to watch for:
Thomas has a leg up on the competition because of the simple fact that he gained more experience as a rookie last year and proved ready for the starter's role, but his battle with Jones to be the No. 1 guy will be interesting to watch in two-a-days this fall.
Jones has fully recuperated from a bothersome ankle ailment that cost him some playing time last season and could challenge his classmate for the right to be the starter against Miami on Labor Day.
The most important thing for both sophomores to do during the next several months leading into the 2009 season is to improve on their blocking. Fisher was quick to point out in the spring that for everything they did right toting the football, their blocking was still very suspect.
How do they improve that facet of their game? Film, film and more film. Hitting the film room after hitting the weight room is paramount for the development of both players and for the increased success of the FSU offensive attack this year.
Behind Thomas and Jones, it's anyone's guess at this point who will earn playing time.
Highly-touted junior college transfer Tavares Pressley should figure prominently into the conversation after a torn ACL cost him his entire first season in Tallahassee last year. Pressley missed all of spring practice while rehabilitating the injury but is expected to be cleared for full contact by the time two-a-days begin.
While he works himself back into playing shape, Pressley must also battle a couple of very talented incoming freshmen.
Running backs Lonnie Pryor and Chris Thompson arrive in Tallahassee in June to begin their careers as Seminoles and both will be looking to turn stellar high school careers into early playing time at FSU -- just like Thomas and Jones did last season.
Because of his versatility and playmaking ability, Thompson could make the switch to wide receiver if the offensive coaches feel that's in the best interest of the team.
It's clear there is a lot to pay attention to when it comes to the Seminole tailbacks as the 2009 campaign approaches. But with a stable of talented student-athletes, there is a lot to look forward to.
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