March 12, 2013
The Florida State football team starts spring practice March 20 and Seminoles.com has you covered with daily looks at each position on the roster. We start today with the highly anticipated quarterback battle.
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com Managing Editor
In the wake of EJ Manuel's exit to the NFL, all eyes will be on Clint Trickett, Jacob Coker, Sean Maguire and Jameis Winston when spring practices kick off March 20. And who wins is anybody's guess at this point.
"You let them decide in how they play and the results of what goes on and how the team follows," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "At the end of the day, how does he move them down the field and who can put them in the endzone and manage the game? Control the game and make the plays he needs to make, make big plays and let them dictate."
Trickett returns with the most experience, having played in 16 games over the past two seasons and starting two as a redshirt freshman in 2011. But as the most experienced returner at the position as a fourth-year junior, Trickett's primary work guiding the FSU offense has been as a second-team conductor at practice the last two years and in spot duty late in blowouts behind Manuel -- although a start at Clemson in 2011 when he threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns certainly helps in the "been there, done that" category on his resume.
He also boasts a memorable appearance on a big stage when he connected with fellow freshman Rashad Greene for a touchdown against Oklahoma two years ago so his talent has been seen before.
Trickett will likely enter practices with his name atop the depth chart because he has spent more time in the program and probably has a firm grasp on what Fisher expects out of his signal callers. But with some talented youngsters behind him, Trickett's perch atop the quarterback heap will surely be tested.
Coker played in four early games a season ago in mop-up duty and even tossed a touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin. Known for his big arm, NFL-ready size and high upside, Coker is still a bit of an unknown product to many outside the Moore Center walls. Once the leader of a Wing-T offense in high school before St. Paul's Episcopal in Mobile, Ala. switched to a more pro-oriented offense, Coker displayed an ability to make all the throws while also making plays with his legs as a prep star.
But what can he do in Fisher's offense? That remains to be seen as his exposure has been limited to one spring game and those handful of late-game appearances. No longer third on the depth chart, Coker will get the most chances he has ever had as Seminole and could make the most of it.
In addition to Coker, redshirt freshmen Winston and Maguire are also in the mix.
Winston was the top player at his position nationally in the 2012 recruiting class and carries with him the weight that only five-star quarterback hype can create. He's also made a name for himself on the baseball team -- thus adding to his early legend -- but has a system in place with 'Noles coach Mike Martin that will prevent him from missing any of the football team's practices this year.
Maguire wasn't nearly as ballyhooed as Winston coming out of Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey but neither was fellow three-star Ponder when he came to FSU and that didn't stop the latter from becoming an eventual starter and first round NFL Draft selection.
"They all have different strengths and weaknesses but it's going to be very interesting not just how they can do their job but how they can make the other 10 guys around them do their job," Fisher said, reiterating that anybody can seize the job. "... I think I know what their abilities are but you never know what somebody is capable of until they are put under pressure situations and put out there in a position to lead."
FSU's quarterback battle won't just be scrutinized and watched by those in Tallahassee; it has a national appeal to it as well and the rest of the nation will be curious to see who emerges victorious in the quest to replace Manuel.
Let the games begin March 20.