March 21, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- What a difference a year makes.
One year after kicking off the 2012 spring practice period on the offensive line following an off-season switch from the defensive side of the ball, redshirt junior Cam Erving began his second year under Rick Trickett's tutelage Wednesday in the same position he stood nearly one year ago to the day: as FSU's starting left tackle.
He may be in the same position he was then but after not playing a single down of football on offense as a youth and through two years with the 'Noles, to say that Erving has come a long way in the last 360-plus days would be an understatement. An unknown, raw commodity with upside a year ago, the strong start to Erving's offensive career has generated a widely-held belief that the Moultrie, Ga. native has the potential to turn into one of the better left tackles in the entire country.
"I feel a whole lot more comfortable," Erving said. "I feel like I can actually help other people that don't know what's going on now whereas last year I didn't necessarily feel real comfortable with the position as I do now. It feels pretty good now. I feel like I know what's going on. I'm just trying to be more consistent."
Passing the season-long test of matching wits and blows with pass rushers intent on sacking EJ Manuel will help your comfort level grow.
Having success in that practice will help your confidence, too, and Erving benefits from that reality in his second go-around as the team's spring-time left tackle. Now it's all about taking his game to the next level; a quest that started the moment the off-season began following the Seminoles' Orange Bowl victory earlier this year.
"I have just been focusing on being a student of the game," Erving said. "Just being smarter and knowing what's going on everywhere and not just what's going on with me and what I have to do. Just trying to learn to what's going on with the whole offense. And from the offense you have to watch the defense to know what's going on and anticipate what's coming instead of just being surprised."
One noticeable difference in Erving's presence at left tackle this year is that he no longer is protecting Manuel's blindside. With Manuel preparing for next month's NFL Draft, the 'Noles are officially in the midst of a four-player quarterback battle between Clint Trickett, Sean Maguire, Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston.
As far as his responsibilities are concerned, Erving's to-do list at left tackle doesn't change with a new quarterback under center but the dynamic he had developed with the previous signal caller does. Manuel served as a calming force last year while Erving was getting his feet wet on the offensive line, always there with words of encouragement and reminders of his confidence in the player charged with keeping him off the turf.
But without Manuel, Erving's role has been reversed. Instead of receiving advice and votes of confidence from his quarterback, he's now delivering those same words of encouragement to his quarterbacks.
"It feels good because EJ really did help me a lot," Erving said. "He always made sure I knew that he trusted me and he was confident in my abilities and I am telling the guys the same thing. I am trying to tell them that you don't have to worry about something coming.
"Just get the ball out of there and don't worry about somebody coming to hit you."