Sept. 3, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Barring injury or some unforeseen circumstance, Florida State freshman defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. -- the nation's near consensus top-rated high school player in 2012 -- will redshirt for the Seminoles this season.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said as much Monday in his weekly press conference, pointing to the talent and depth ahead of Edwards, Jr. on the depth chart as being the primary reason behind the decision.
"He's not going to play," Fisher said about the consensus five-star recruit. "Who would he play ahead of? We going to sit Brandon Jenkins down? Want me to sit Tank Carradine down? Want me to sit Bjoern Werner down? ... I think the guy is going to be a phenomenal player. I am not one bit disappointed. What we saw on film and what we thought he was I think he's exactly that right now. He's actually even stronger and more powerful than I even realized and still kept that athleticism and speed."
Fisher didn't mention him specifically by name but it's likely that FSU's other elite defensive end signee for 2012, Chris Casher, is also likely to sit out his first season. Casher was in uniform and on the sidelines for the 'Noles in their 69-3 victory over Murray State to start the season this past Saturday.
Edwards, Jr., however, was not, thus raising the concern amongst those outside the program that perhaps his immediate at FSU was in question but Fisher said Monday that redshirting players have a choice to make on game days. "If you redshirt it's your choice to whether you want to dress or not," Fisher said, adding, "[Edwards, Jr.] understood. And guys like that, we sit down and talk to them and it's a tough one because those guys have never not played."
Casher and Edwards, Jr. may be physically ready and able to contribute as pass rushers right now but FSU has perhaps college football's best trio of defensive ends in Werner, Jenkins and Carradine.
Werner set career highs in tackles for loss (five) and sacks (four) last weekend en route to being named the team's defensive MVP. Carradine registered a team-best nine tackles against the Racers and Jenkins added three tackles and a sack before a bruised foot sidelined him for the second half. Carradine is listed as Werner's backup but played in Jenkins' place in the final two quarters, showcasing a rotation that will likely be utilzed the rest of the season at defensive end with all three getting snaps as needed.
"Why not do it a three way [rotation] because you've got three guys that are first or second round draft-pick type guys ... we are trying to get them reps and to waste a year on a [freshmen] for five, six, seven plays a game once you get into it to me makes no sense," Fisher said. "It's something we've talked about. We can play [Edwards, Jr.] five, six or seven plays but how much do you gain? There's a lot more to lose in our opinion."
The 'Noles also boast up-and-coming redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry and redshirt senior Toshmon Stevens at defensive end, making available repetitions for rookies all the more scarce. The same is true at defensive tackle, defensive back, wide receiver and linebacker where Fisher mentioned Monday freshmen Justin Shanks, Colin Blake, Marvin Bracy and Ukeme Eligwe as other probable redshirts.
Fisher said Monday that Bracy's lingering hamstring issues are the reason behind his likely redshirt but that he will be further evaluated this week before a final decision is made.
"Maybe we'll try to give him four or five things, the return game," Fisher said. "Teach him four or five things on offense to get real good at. We'll kind of judge that as we go right here. We've got to do that hopefully this week. I'm anxious to see if he's full, full speed this week."
The fact that FSU has the ability to redshirt as many as eight four- or five-star signees speaks volumes to the depth and talent across the roster. A quick glance at said roster even shows that the practice of sitting players for their first year is nothing new and can be a benefit to their overall development in the long run.
Starters Xavier Rhodes, EJ Manuel, Cameron Erving, Bryan Stork, Vince Williams and Everett Dawkins are all likely better players in the long run because of their year spent watching and learning from the sidelines.
"Some guys embrace it," Manuel said Monday. "Not that they don't want to play but they understand, hey it gives me an extra year to get bigger, stronger, faster and be more prepared for next year. I definitely had about five of those talks with the freshmen who are redshirting. They understand not only is it for the betterment of the team but it is for them. It's going to benefit them. I am extremely excited I redshirted. This is my fifth year in the program and I feel a lot better with myself as a quarterback.
"It takes a certain amount of time for certain guys. Some guys have the fortunate to be able to play their freshman year but if you don't it's not a bad thing on you."
PRYOR NAMED OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
While Werner was the defensive player of the game, starting fullback Lonnie Pryor took home those team honors on the offensive side the ball.
Pryor ran for a career-best three touchdowns in the win over Murray State, including an 18-yard scoring scamper around the left side that showed speed and athleticism typically uncommon for a fullback. He also helped block for a run game that racked up 285 yards.
"That Lonnie, if you go watch him boy he he's a Paul Bunyan too," Fisher said. "He's chopping down and blocking. Now he's lighter. He's catching the ball, he's running. It's like having another tailback in the backfield as a fullback. Just doing a great job."
FISHER NOT PLEASED WITH NEW HELMET RULE
One of the several new rules for college football this season has to do with players' helmets. Among other aspects of the new rule, if a player's helmet comes completely off their head during a play that isn't the result of a personal foul, said player must sit out a play.
This happened a few times in FSU's opening game, including to Racers quarterback Casey Brockmon, who had to go to the sidelines for one play.
Further adding to the potential controversy of the new rule is what happens if the game clock is under one minute. If it is the ball carrier's helmet that falls off in the final 60 seconds and it is the only reason the play is blown dead, there will be a 10-second run-off. If the team has a timeout remaining, the coach could elect to call time instead.
Fisher said Monday he could see a possible doomsday scenario for a team in the final moments of a game this season if a quarterback or key player has to go to the sidelines. If the helmet is lost with 10 second or less on the clock, it could be even worse.
"The game's over," Fisher said emphatically. "On a guy that gets legally hit and gets his helmet knocked off. Game is over if you're under 10 seconds. If it's 11 seconds and goes down to one second how are you going to snap the ball? It will happen to somebody this year. I think they went way overboard with that rule."