April 1, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It took longer for Kareem Are to get on the field than it took for him to make an impact at practice for Florida State.
Are, a junior-college signee in the 2014 recruiting class that enrolled in classes in January, had not participated in the first week-and-a-half of Florida State's practices before officially being cleared to join his new teammates March 27. Three practices -- one of which was Monday's scrimmage -- later, Are has made a habit out of turning heads.
During FSU's first several practices, Are was a fixture on the sidelines. Wearing street clothes, the 6-foot-6, 336-pounder could be seen watching intently as Rick Trickett barked orders and demanded perfection in technique from his group of offensive linemen.
When he was cleared to actually participate, Are hit the ground running. Inserted into the rotation at second-team left guard, the former Fort Scott Community College standout's massive frame makes him hard to miss -- and difficult to defeat one-on-one.
Though he hasn't been doing it very long for the Seminoles, Are has quickly become someone defensive players aren't overly excited about facing in board drills.
"He's definitely aggressive," FSU junior defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. said. "That's one of the good things that I've noticed about him. He's very aggressive; loves to pile you into the ground if you let him. He has strong hands."
Are's strength, aggressiveness and junior-college experience are a welcome addition to a `Noles offensive line corps that doesn't boast much depth.
Despite returning four senior starters and replacing Bryan Stork at center with senior Austin Barron, FSU's second-team line needed the spring-time boost Are has provided. With just three other scholarship players on the second-team unit, Are's addition is invaluable for the long-term prospects of FSU's offensive line.
And if he continues on the same development trajectory of his first trio of practices, there's nothing stopping the Floral Park, N.Y. native from pushing FSU's incumbent starters for playing time.
"For him being out here three days and to go into that scrimmage with only three days of practice with what he's done and be able to function -- the last two practices he's done some really good things," Fisher said. "He has done his work and tried to pay attention while he was sitting out. [He's] very natural in a lot of things."
TAILBACK ROTATION TAKES ANOTHER HIT
Florida State already started spring practices without early enrollee Dalvin Cook after the five-star prospect had shoulder surgery. Now another `Noles running back is sidelined for the spring.
Rising sophomore Ryan Green, who ran 33 times for 163 yards and a score as the fourth-team tailback last year, was in a sling at Monday's scrimmage and Fisher confirmed afterward he is out afetr his own shoulder surgery. Fisher also revealed that Mario Pender tweaked a hamstring.
What does this all mean? It means don't hit Karlos Williams.
FSU's rising senior rusher has been running with the first-team all spring and will continue to get the bulk of carries, but with one caveat: you won't see him without a green non-contact jersey on.
"We'll probably only have Karlos and we'll have to adjust form there," Fisher said. "... Karlos is playing very solid but we didn't get him tackled [Monday]. We can't afford to get him tackled."
If depth at running back sounds familiar, that's because it is.
Last year, FSU went into the spring game with just one healthy scholarship player in the backfield -- fullback Chad Abram -- and everything still worked out just fine during the 2013 season.