Aug. 7, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- For the second year in a row, a Florida State defensive linemen is on the move to the offensive side of the ball. Only this time, he doesn't have the benefit of spring practices to help the transition.
Giorgio Newberry, who has spent the first two seasons of his FSU career at defensive end, has been moved to tight end. But unlike Cameron Erving (defensive tackle to offensive tackle) and Dan Hicks (defensive end to tight end) last year, Newberry's new role was decided upon in the summer -- not before the start of spring practices like his teammates.
Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher had always envisioned Newberry as a tight end. "He's got good hands," Fisher said at his pre-camp press conference Tuesday afternoon. "He was a basketball player in high school. He's a good athlete. He moves well, runs well." But it wasn't until Christo Kourtzidis transferred and Kevin Haplea went down with a season-ending injury this summer that moving Newberry went from being a potential future play to a present necessity.
With Nick O'Leary the only healthy returner at tight and true freshman Jeremy Kerr his backup, Newberry's addition to the depth chart bolsters a questionable spot on the roster with opening night less than a month away.
"It will give us a tremendous presence on the edge at 6-6, 285 [pounds]" Fisher said. "He can run, have power. He'll dent the edge up and he can be tremendous there."
In addition to excelling on defense in high school, Newberry was also a standout offensive lineman, even playing at that position during the Under Armour All-American game his senior year.
His blocking experience -- even if it is limited to just what he learned in high school -- immediately gives the 'Noles a much-needed extra presence in that facet of the game. While O'Leary wiil once again be the team's go-to pass catcher among tight ends, Newberry's size and strength provides an added dimension to FSU's offensive game plan.
When the 'Noles officially opened camp late Tuesday afternoon, Newberry did so with a new position, a new number and a new look. Now wearing No. 4 after switching from his familiar No. 51 and sans dreadlocks, Newberry began his "new" career on the Seminoles' new practice fields.
The Ft. Pierce, Fla. native wasn't available for comment after practice, but Fisher said he was pleased with what he saw on the first day.
"Those vertical routes will get him," Fisher said with a laugh. "He didn't know he had to chase the quarterback that far. We told him to chase the free safety now. It's a little different and he said 'I'll get it.' But he was good. His size and presence and he had a great attitude and it worked pretty good."
Fisher is obviously excited about Newberry's move, but he wouldn't have decided a position change was in order if he felt it would cause issues at defensive end.
Despite losing Brandon Jenkins, Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine to the NFL, Fisher said Tuesday that he was very comfortable with a position group that features Mario Edwards, Jr., Chris Casher, Hicks, Desmond Hollin, DeMarcus Walker and Davarez Bryant. Hicks' move back to defensive end in time for spring practices earlier this year is just as noteworthy as Newberry's official move Tuesday. If Hicks hadn't excelled at his new "old" position like he did in March and April, than the FSU defense wouldn't have been able to afford losing Newberry.
"We feel very comfortable with those [defensive ends] and Giorgio is a smart guy," Fisher said. "He's got a very good learning ability. He's got a great attitude."
Unity Council decides 'Noles' social media fate
Last season, Fisher famously banned his players from the use of social media and msny tought the same rules would be in effect this year. That's why it came as no surprise Sunday evening when several FSU players tweeted their "goodbyes" to the Twitter world.
But even though the 'Noles are once again avoiding social media, the decision to step away from such networks as Twitter and Facebook was decided on by the team's Unity Council -- not by the head coach.
"That was their decision," Fisher said.
Odds and ends
-Redshirt freshman Mario Pender was not at practice Tuesday. Fisher said afterwards that they are waiting for one grade to post before Pender can join the team. Fisher added that he doesn't know when the grade will post but that he expects everything to be fine and for Pender to eventually be cleared.
-Florida State's highly touted freshman class took its first snaps as collegiate players Tuesday and from the early looks of it, each and every member of that squad is as advertised. The new 'Noles are big, fast and athletic and they drew rave reviews from Fisher and veteran teammates Telvin Smith, Christian Jones, Kenny Shaw and Bryan Stork following practice.
"I am very happy with their development," Fisher said. "Our upperclassmen did a great job of helping those guys."
Freshmen Tyrell Lyons and>John Franklin III came to FSU with chatter that both of their respective positions were not set in stone upon arrival. Lyons came in listed as linebacker but is in fact a safety for the 'Noles, where he is in competition for backup duties behind key veterans Tyler Hunter, Karlos Williams and Terrence Brooks.
As for Franklin, he came in as an athlete but is listed on the roster at quarterback and was seen working as the fourth-team signal caller Tuesday. Fisher had nothing but positive things to say about the 6-foot-1 quarterback following practice, specifically mentioning his preparation and understanding of exactly what he was expected to do.
-The 'Noles will return to practice Wednesday. The first two-a-day of the year is slated for Aug. 12.