Florida State spring preview: Offensive line hoping it finds strength in numbers

 

 

Florida State left tackle Rod Johnson was voted the ACC's best blocker in 2015.

Florida State left tackle Rod Johnson was voted the ACC’s best blocker in 2015.

Florida State’s spring practice starts March 16 and concludes with the annual spring game April 9 in Orlando.

The Seminoles are coming off their fourth consecutive 10 win season (10-3) in what many labeled a rebuilding year. The expectations are even higher for Jimbo Fisher’s squad in 2016 with 16 returning starters, including the entire offense.

We will break down each unit until the team hits the practice field. Today, we take a look at the offensive line.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Projected starters: LT JR Rod Johnson, LG R-SR Kareem Are, C R-SO Alec Eberle, RG R-JR Wilson Bell, RT R-SO Brock Ruble.

Key backups: SO Ethan Frith, R-JR Ryan Hoefeld, R-SO Corey Martinez, R-SR Chad Mavety, R-SO Derrick Kelly, R-SR Keith Weeks, R-FR Abdul Bello, R-FR David Robbins.

What to watch for: More cohesion, health and production in 2016. The line lost every starter but Johnson from the end of the 2014 season and that inexperienced showed. At times they looked like the highly-touted recruits most were but at other times the Seminoles’ quarterbacks were scrambling for their lives. Johnson is the undeniable leader. He was named the best blocker in the ACC while being voted to the all-conference first team, along with being recognized as a second team All-America by The Sporting News and USA Today. Johnson and Bell were the lone offensive linemen to start every game. Eberle emerged as the center among a group in which Martinez, Hoefeld and Eberle each started at least three games. Are and Bell have the inside track on the two guard spots and right tackle is wide open. Mavety, Ruble and Kelly each started at least three games at that spot a year ago. Mavety, though, could be out awhile because of his “cardiac issue.” … The Seminoles signed six best offensive linemen this season, giving them 19 scholarship offensive linemen on the roster. The newcomers are led by Baveon Johnson and Landon Dickerson. Andrew Boselli is the only one to enroll early.

In conclusion: OL coach Rick Trickett will work these guys’ tails off from the start of spring through the season to get them to reach their potential. Left tackle is secure with Johnson as it appears center is with Eberle. Otherwise, jobs are wide open and several players have the ability to fill them. No question, as a group, this will be the most intriguing position to watch this spring – and probably beyond – when it comes to competition for starting jobs.

[Receivers/tight ends: Talented group still has plenty of room to grow]

[Running backs/fullbacks: Looking to develop depth behind Dalvin Cook]

[Quarterbacks: Which QB will take advantage of Sean Maguire’s absence?]