Travis Rudolph signs free-agent deal with Giants after going undrafted

The father of former FSU star receiver Travis Rudolph was shot and killed last Friday. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

With ESPN cameras in his West Palm Beach home ready to capture what would have been the crowning achievement of his athletic career, Travis Rudolph sat through nearly seven hours of the NFL Draft on Saturday without hearing his name called.

The former Cardinal Newman and Florida State star who left the Seminoles after his junior season to enter the draft, was projected to be selected in the fifth or sixth round. But he watched as 32 other receivers were taken over the course of three days and seven rounds.

Following the draft, the 6-foot, 189-pound Rudolph agreed to a free-agent deal with the New York Giants. Rudolph’s agent, Jonathan Herbst, confirmed the deal in an email to The Post.

Cameras caught Rudolph surrounded by family and friends throughout the day, one of those being Bo Paske, the autistic student who Rudolph joined last summer during a visit to his middle school while Paske was dining alone. That act gained national attention for both Rudolph and Bo and earned Rudolph widespread praise.

Rudolph was watching the draft with a heavy heart. His father, Darryl Rudolph, was killed April 21 while doing handyman work in the backroom of a West Palm Beach club. Darryl, 55, was struck in the back/neck area by a gunshot from an adjacent room that penetrated the wall, according to authorities. The gun, identified as an AK-47 style rifle, discharged when a coworker was moving the firearm off a shelf, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report.

Paul Senat, 36, of Lantana, part-owner of Sugar Daddy’s Adult Cabaret, was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Tuesday.

>> Exclusive: FSU coach Jimbo Fisher recalls Darryl Rudolph as supportive, hard-working, family man

Rudolph concluded his career at Florida State seventh in school history with 153 receptions and eighth with 2,311 receiving yards after leading the Seminoles with 56 catches, 840 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns last season.

He was ranked from the 27th to 37th best receiver in the draft by draft experts. Just six receivers were taken in the first two rounds before a run started with 20 coming off the board in rounds 3 through 5. Then after a lull in round 6 (one was taken), five more heard their names called in the final round, including Isaiah Ford of Virginia Tech, who went to the Dolphins with the 238 overall pick.

The knock on Rudolph is his speed and quickness. He ran a 4.65 40 yard dash at the NFL combine. Just four of the 51 receivers who ran the 40 had a slower time.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher believes too much emphasis was put on the stop watch and not his production.

“He can run the route tree, he has good size,” Fisher said prior to the draft. “He’s not a blazer but he’s fast. And if you watch he makes big plays.”

Despite misgivings some had about Rudolph entering the draft a year early, he told The Post in March that he had received good feedback from NFL representatives.

“Basically teams evaluate ‘How do you learn?’ ‘Are you a route-runner?’ ‘Are you disciplined in your route running?’ ‘Do you turn your head or do you keep your eyes on the ball when you’re catching it?’” Rudolph said. “Little stuff like that.”

Rudolph, who trained in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee leading up to the draft, added: “I’ve been taking it in daily. That’s my childhood dream to make it to the NFL.”

That dream is not over. But after not hearing his named called this weekend, the path to reaching his dream will have to begin in a different way than the one he had hoped.

Exclusive: FSU coach Jimbo Fisher recalls Darryl Rudolph as supportive, hard-working, family man

 

The father of former FSU star receiver Travis Rudolph was shot and killed on Friday. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher remembers the late Darryl Rudolph, the father of former Seminoles star receiver, Travis Rudolph, as being a hard-working, supportive parent whose children were his life.

“Just great family,” Fisher said today, hours before he was leaving to attend Thursday’s NFL draft in Philadelphia.

“Parents … mom, dad were involved in their kid’s life. They were at everything he did. They supported him. Just a typical, loving, close, very hard-working, blue-collar, just really good family. Raised him tremendously well. A lot of respect from him to them and them to him.

“Their kids were the focal point of their life.”

Darryl Rudolph was killed late Friday while doing handyman work in the backroom of Sugar Daddy’s Adult Cabaret in West Palm Beach. The incident occurred one week before Travis is expected to be selected in the NFL draft. Travis, who was raised in West Palm Beach and starred at Cardinal Newman High School, decided to skip his senior year at FSU and enter the draft after being the Noles’ most productive receiver over the last three years.

Darryl, 55, was struck in the back/neck area by a gunshot from an adjacent room that penetrated the wall. The gun, which law enforcement sources told The Post was a rifle, discharged when a coworker was moving the firearm off a shelf. Darryl was not a full-time employee of the club but was hired occasionally to do handyman jobs.

On Tuesday, Paul Senat, 36, of Lantana was arrested and charged with Darryl’s shooting death by Palm Beach County sheriff’s detectives.

Fisher was with Travis at an on-campus event in the Champions Club on Friday hours before the incident. Travis had left Tallahassee when Fisher attempted to contact him.

“At first you didn’t believe it,” said Fisher, who has spoken with Travis’ mom, Linda. “It was shock. Travis is ready to fulfill his dream (of being drafted). His dad is getting to watch him do it. I had to just sit down for a minute and say ‘Oh my God.’

“Then my thoughts went to him and his wife and everything else, Travis and the family.”

Fisher, who spent time in the Rudolph home when recruiting Travis, said the university is ready to support Travis in any way necessary.

“He’s part of our family and we’ll do everything we can to help,” Fisher said. “Travis is going to have a great career. He’s going to come back and finish his degree. Anything we can humanly do to help them and the family get through a tough time … anything they want us to do and anything we can do.”

Fisher says he is “heartbroken” not only by Darry’s death but the timing. Travis, 21, concludes his career seventh in school history with 153 receptions and eighth with 2,311 receiving yards after leading the Seminoles with 56 catches, 840 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns last season.

Rudolph was named second-team All-ACC in 2016 and was one of 11 recipients of the Extraordinary Sportsmanship award at the Musial Awards. Last summer, when visiting a Tallahassee middle school with his teammates, Rudolph spotted an autistic student who was eating alone and sat down and dined with the boy.

Rudolph, 6-foot, 189 pounds, is projected to be taken on the third day of draft, anywhere from the fifth to seventh round. He is ranked anywhere from the 30th to 40th best receiver in the draft.

Fisher believes scouts are putting too much emphasis on his 40 time (4.65) rather than his production.

“He can run the route tree, he has good size,” Fisher said. “He’s not a blazer, but he’s fast. And if you watch, he makes big plays.

“You go back and watch our film, there’s a lot of long touchdown throws and catches and runs after (the catch). Like he did against Florida this year. There’s a lot of plays like that.”

Travis scored on a 46-yard catch-and-run from Deondre Francois that gave FSU a 17-6 lead over the Gators, the 18th and final touchdown reception of his career. The Seminoles went on to a 31-13 victory.

Fisher also praised Travis’ downfield blocking skills and his intelligence.

“He’s a very multi-talented receiver because he can go in and out to catch the ball,” Fisher said. “He’s just a really good athlete and he understands. Travis is really smart.”

Rudolph’s agents sent an email to all NFL teams saying that, despite the tragedy, Rudolph remained intent on pursuing his pro football aspirations.

Secondary is Florida State’s deepest/most talented unit

 

 

Derwin James heads a deep and talented secondary for Florida State.
Derwin James heads a deep and talented secondary for Florida State.

With 17 returning starters, Florida State has few holes to fill after losing an interior defensive lineman, two linebackers and two defensive backs.

But Jimbo Fisher has the program in a position where it’s always thinking a year (or two) ahead in its development and able to anticipate the losses, whether two players are drafted (2016) or 11 (2015).

FSU will be in the top five of most preseason polls which means the talent is not lacking. We take a look at that talent from a positional standpoint and rank those units from deepest to weakest.

1. Secondary: Even after losing the fifth overall pick in the draft (Jalen Ramsey), this position is loaded with future NFL players. We start with the most talented player on defense, sophomore Derwin James, who is garnering All-American talk after forging his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman. James showed his athletic ability after taking over at strong safety. He did make freshman mistakes in 2015, especially in games against Georgia Tech and Houston, but he is poised for a breakout season. The group will receive a big boost with the return of Trey Marshall from injury at the nickel, and safety Nate Andrews is back for a fourth year. The only big question mark is who replaces Ramsey opposite cornerback Marquez White. Tarvarus McFadden appears to have the edge. What also separates the secondary is the depth. A lot of programs would like to have talents like Calvin Brewton, Marcus Lewis, A.J. Westbrook and newcomer Levonta Taylor playing every down.

2. Defensive line: This unit shot to the top when DE DeMarcus Walker decided to forgo the draft and return for his senior season. Walker and sophomore Josh Sweat give FSU one of the top end tandems in the country. And the interior isn’t bad either with junior Derrick Nnadi returning after his first year as a starter and Demarcus Christmas ready to replace Nile Lawrence-Stample. Jacob Pugh and Fred Jones provide the primary depth but the position has been hurt by attrition and needs a few more bodies.

Cook
Cook

3. Running back: One player makes this one of the top units on the team (and in the country) but what keeps it from coming in any higher is the uncertainty behind Dalvin Cook. Cook returns after a record-breaking season and seventh place finish in the Heisman voting and the fullback spot is secure with Freddie Stevenson. But what cannot be totally discounted are the nagging injuries that limited Cook last season and what kind of production FSU will get behind Cook. Jacques Patrick showed flashes as a freshman last season and had a great game against Syracuse when Cook was held out because of an ankle injury. Still, at times he was underwhelming. Ryan Green had a solid spring but the running back turned cornerback turned running back has carried the ball six times in the last two years.

4. Receivers/tight end: The numbers – three receivers with at least 57 catches – are impressive but all agree even more was expected. They all return and the 2014 and 2015 stacked recruiting classes are a year older. The position received a huge boost in the spring with the emergence of Auden Tate. I believe he could become the big (as in 6-5) receiver FSU has lacked since Kelvin Benjamin left. Then there was the maturity and improvement Travis Rudolph showed in the spring. All it will take is one or two more of the young players to emerge to go along with veterans Rudolph, Jesus Wilson and Kermit Whitfield and they could be a dynamite group. As for tight end, Ryan Izzo proved more than capable last year and this, too, is a diverse, deep group.

5. Offensive line: Perhaps the biggest mystery on the team. At times the line was solid last season and at times it looked lost. No question the talent is there and, in fact, some of that talent is in the extraordinary depth this group possesses with 20 offensive linemen on scholarship. But beyond LT Rod Johnson (an All-American candidate and projected first round pick in early mock drafts) a lot has to come together. Coaches are confident LG Kareem Are, C Alec Eberle, RG Wilson Bell and RT Brock Ruble will jell. And the likelihood is they do. But I still need to see it. More than any other position, I believe the offensive line will determine whether Florida State is a true title contender this year.

Maguire
Maguire

6. Quarterback: Two years of Jameis Winston seems so far removed. This position remains somewhat of a mystery – and as always will be scrutinized more than any other during camp – for two reasons: The known (senior Sean Maguire) and the unknown (freshman Deondre Francois). Maguire is capable. He was solid, not spectacular after Everett Golson imploded last year and he does deserve a break for his Peach Bowl performance after playing more than two quarters on a broken ankle. But can he lead FSU to the ACC title and playoffs? That answer varies depending on who you are asking. Francois has all the potential and tools but he has yet to take a snap in a college game. Obviously, this position is hugely important and it could turn out to be a strength or a weakness.

7. Linebackers: The Seminoles lost both their starters, although neither was drafted, but still are confident that juniors Ro’Derrick Hoskins and Matthew Thomas will seamlessly step in. Hoskins is more certain after being a key contributor last year with Reggie Northrup limited early from offseason knee surgery and Terrance Smith missing four games later because of an ankle injury. Thomas is not as reliable only because of a checkered history that last limited him to 12 games since signing in 2013 because of suspensions. The position has had depth issues in the past but coaches hope Josh Brown and Sh’Mar Kilby-Lane will solve that this season.

[RELATED: Cook, Johnson, Walker on future NFL stars list]

[RELATED: Florida State to keep its entire staff together for first time in four years]

[RELATED:  Jimbo Fisher not against tough openers]

[RELATED: FSU strength of schedule pulls in another top 10 rating]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida State will reload for the 2017 draft

 

Dalvin Cook is projected as a high 2017 draft pick. That may all depend on if he can stay healthy.
Dalvin Cook is projected as a high 2017 draft pick. That may all depend on if he can stay healthy.

The 2016 draft was a hiccup when it comes to Florida State.

The Seminoles set a record with 29 players drafted in a three year span (2013-15) before seeing just two taken last week, DB Jalen Ramsey fifth overall by the Jaguars and K Roberto Aguayo in the second round by the Bucs.

The good news for FSU fans is this is an indication how talented the 2016 Seminoles should be with every offensive starter and backup from the Peach Bowl returning and six defensive starters coming back. Which should mean Tallahassee will be a popular destination for scouts this fall and winter with several draft eligible players expected to be near the top of the board.

CBSSports.com and Yahoo published their early 2017 projections and three FSU players made the grade.

RB Dalvin Cook is No. 9 in CBS Sports’ mock draft and No. 5 on Yahoo’s board. He will be eligible as a third year junior and after a sophomore year in which he set the FSU single season rushing mark with 1,691 yards and showed his explosiveness and toughness. Where Cook is taken in a year could depend entirely on his ability to stay healthy. He also will be coming out in a year that will be loaded with quality running backs.

DE Demarcus Walker, No. 16 on Yahoo’s list, opted to return for his senior year and hopefully for him it pays off. Walker decided he needs to prove he is not a one-year wonder after breaking out in 2015 and the Seminoles believe he will be one of the best defensive ends in the country. He should crack the first round if he continues on the same trajectory.

LT Rod Johnson is No. 16 in CBS Sports’ mock draft. Johnson took over the position late in his freshman year and last year was named the ACC’s top blocker. He will be a third-year junior in the fall and plays a premium position.

[Florida State has legitimate claim to ‘DBU’]

[Tracking Florida State’s undrafted free agents]

[FSU’s 2013 title team: 20 players drafted, 10 in first two rounds]

The next tier includes senior CB Marquez White and junior DT Derrick Nnadi, who very well could play themselves into the top half of the draft.

The fate of several others will depend on the season, players like WR Travis Rudolph of Cardinal Newman, OL Kareem Are and LB Ro’Derrick Hoskins among others.

 

 

Florida State: Five things we learned from the spring game

 

Deondre Francois threw for 246 yards and 2 TDs in the spring game.
Redshirt freshman Deondre Francois threw for 246 yards, 2 TDs in the Florida State spring game.

ORLANDO – As far as spring game goes, Florida State’s was as about as good at it gets.

The Garnet and Gold teams each scored on their final two drives and the game ended 24-24. Jimbo Fisher was very pleased with the spring finale, a stark contrast from the way spring started when Fisher ripped into his team what he called the worst practice any of his teams had since he became a head coach.

The Seminoles had plenty of breakout performances but here is what we learned.

QB Sean Maguire will be pushed to keep his starting job

Henry
Malik Henry

Maguire, the senior who is recovering from surgery on his ankle, watched FSU’s freshmen quarterbacks close the gap on the competition. Redshirt Deondre Francois and early enrollee Malik Henry dueled to the end, each leading their teams on two scoring drives in the final five minutes. Francois was 20 of 33 for 246 yards and two interceptions. Henry was 15 of 22 for 205 yards and a slow start in which his Garnet team did not have a first down in the first half. Both tossed two TD passes. “Sean will be right there and he’ll go back up to No. 1 and they’ll all compete for it,” Fisher said. “They’re all going to compete for it in fall camp. I’m anxious to what we can put in that mix the better.”

WR Auden Tate is for real

One of the biggest disappointments last season was that none of the receivers behind Travis Rudolph, Kermit Whitfield and Jesus Wilson emerged. Well, now there is a fourth member of the top tier, 6-5 Tate, who had six catches for 100 yards and two TDs. The most impressive was a play in which he ran the wrong route, but kept moving, headed down the sideline and leaped to catch the throw from Francois, giving the Gold a 21-17 lead. The catch was pure Kelvin Benjamin, who by the way is the player to whom Tate is drawing the most comparisons. “Auden made a phenomenal catch,” Fisher said. “The play itself was phenomenal. That was a great play. But you saw his body size, you see what he has a chance to be and he’s got to get better. He’ll keep polishing those routes but that big body and those hands, he can be a weapon for us.”

Derwin James is an All-American in the making

James, the strong safety, made a name for himself last season making several freshman All-American teams and even being touted by some as the best freshman in the country. Now he has taken the next step this spring not only on the field but as a leader. James was all over the field on Saturday. But as much as his physical ability, Fisher continues to praise James for the way he has taken hold of the leadership role. “He just gets it,” Fisher said. “The physical skills are crazy, he’s unbelievably instinctive but he’s an intelligent guy, a very intelligent person, not just football player. And then he’s a great people person. Derwin’s a fun guy to be a round. Guys just flock to him. He has that charisma.”

Ryan Green is back where he belongs

Ryan Green
Ryan Green

The rising junior made the switch back to running back after spending a season at cornerback and looks as though he never left. Green gained a game-high 84 yards on 16 carries. And although the 5-11, 205-pound green appears as if he’s too small to plow through the middle and will only beat you on the edge, he showed he’s also capable to picking up the tough yards. Green and Jacques Patrick will enter camp battling for the most playing time behind Dalvin Cook. “It’s just natural,” Green said. “I know how to make people miss, I can catch out of the backfield. I run hard. I just feel like it’s the way to go.”

Ricky Aguayo ready to step into some very big shoes

Ironically, those shoes belong to his brother, Roberto, who concluded his historic career last season by joining Deion Sanders as the only two FSU players to be named to at least one All-America team three straight years. Ricky, a true freshman who enrolled early, got off to a good start as his brother’s successor by nailing both of his field goal attempts, from 45 and 46 yards, the latter coming with four seconds remaining and his team trailing by three points. Aguayo hit a low line drive that cleared the crossbar by feet. “What Ricky did at the end of the game was special,” Fisher said. “To come in in that     situation, tie the game, you never know. We could have that during the season.”

[Read the game story from the spring game here]

 

 

Big receiver Auden Tate standing out for Florida State

Auden Tate's size could big a big plus for Florida State's offense.
Florida State has not had a receiver with Auden Tate’s size contribute since Kelvin Benjamin.

Florida State has been waiting for a fourth receiver to stand out for the last year.

Now one appears to have separated himself, at least this spring.

Auden Tate, at 6-5 the tallest of the Seminoles receivers, was singled out by coach Jimbo Fisher following Saturday’s scrimmage at Doak Campbell Stadium. Tate

“Auden made a play or two,” Fisher said. “He is having a heck of a spring. He is definitely making big plays out there, making some great catches. (His size) gives him a lot of advantage because he can box a lot of guys out, making acrobatic catches and he’s got good body control.”

Adding Tate, who weighs 218 pounds, to the core lead by 6-2 Travis Rudolph and including 5-10 Jesus Wilson and 5-8 Kermit Whitfield would be significant considering his size. The Seminoles have missed that presence since 6-5 Kelvin Benjamin left for the NFL following the 2013 season.

[Top receiver in country moves Florida State in Top 10]

[FSU lands commitment from four-star QB Bailey Hockman]

[Jacques Patrick making strides in second year at FSU]

One plays says it all when describing how important it is to have a big body at receiver; the game-winning pass from Jameis Winston to Benjamin in the final seconds of the championship game.

“It gives him a lot of advantages,” Rudolph said about Tate’s size. “He can box a lot of guys out and make acrobatic catches. He has good body control.”

Tate, a rising sophomore, is taking advantage of his opportunities in a spring where several of the young receivers have missed time or been limited, including Da’Vante Phillips, George Campbell, Nyqwan Murray and Ja’Vonn Harrison.

Rudolph, Wilson and Whitfield all surpassed 50 receptions last season. Harrison, Murray and Ermon Lane each had six catches. Tate played in six games and did not have a catch.

 

 

Florida State notebook: Marquez White sees room for improvement, Travis Rudolph still standing out

FSU cornerback Marquez White, seen here making an interception in the end zone against South Florida, returned after talking to his football 'family'
FSU cornerback Marquez White, seen here making an interception in the end zone against South Florida, made the decision to return for his senior season after talking to his football ‘family.’

TALLAHASSEE — Marquez White gave the decision plenty of thought and asked for input from family and Florida State’s coaching staff. But in January, he decided it was best for him to return for his senior season.

White, who will be a senior in the fall, made that decision after speaking with coach Jimbo Fisher, defensive coordinator Charles Kelly and Mario Edwards, the Seminoles’ director of player development.

“I thought about leaving,” White said. “It was my family. They wanted me to finish my degree. It was getting my degree. That’s what my mom wanted me to do.”

White had 25 tackles, broke up two passes and had an interception as a junior, his first full season as a starter. He also felt like he could refine his technique along with being a key part of the defense in 2016.

“There are a lot of things that I can come back and get better on,” White said. “That’s what I really want to do … I don’t feel like it’s about me being the best corner in the nation, I feel like it’s about me coming to work every day and that will just take care of itself — just be the best player I can for my team.”

White was targeted just 36 times last season and allowed completions on 16 throws, according to research by FSU sports information. That averages out to just over a catch per game. White said he would like to see improvement across the board in all aspects of how he plays cornerback.

“I feel like I can get better at everything – tackling, press coverage, playing the ball, being more aggressive, being more heavy-handed,” White said. “Just make sure I’m focused. Not getting bored with it if the ball doesn’t come my way.”

Rudolph separating from other receivers

Rudolph stands out: Former Cardinal Newman star Travis Rudolph continues to impress coach Jimbo Fisher. But beyond the junior receiver, Fisher hasn’t seen enough that impressed him.

“Travis Rudolph has been really good,” Fisher said. “Other than that there’s not enough greatness out there, not enough consistency. There are some guys making plays. Travis is really emerging now but the rest of them have to continue to grow and get better.”

[Chris Casher hoping to salvage career with move to tight end]

[Recruiting: Florida State in running for four-star RB A.J. Dillon]

[Jimbo Fisher likes idea of playing spring game in same stadium where FSU will open season]

[Jimbo Fisher wants the football version of ’40 minutes of hell’]

Jimbo Fisher says Florida State receiver Travis Rudolph maturing

 

 

Travis Rudolph led Florida State's receivers in catches, yards and TDs last season, but he was not satisfied.
Travis Rudolph led Florida State’s receivers in catches, yards and TDs last season, but he was not satisfied.

Travis Rudolph led Florida State with 59 catches, 916 yards and seven receiving TDs last season.

Yet, the Cardinal Newman product was not happy and is doing something about it during the offseason.

“I feel like I got something to prove to myself as well as others,” Rudolph said on the first day of spring practice.

When asked what held him back last season, one in which he had games of 191 receiving yards against Syracuse and 201 yards against Houston but was hardly noticeable in a few others, he said: “Just being inconsistent. Less drops. That’s the main thing. Less drops.”

Rudolph blamed a “lack of concentration. Trying to run before the catch.”

Rudolph’s actions have been noticed by Jimbo Fisher. The Seminoles coach has praised the 6-1, 189-pound rising junior several times this winter.

“He’s not had one poor day in the offseason,” Fisher said. “He was up front in every drill, busting his tail and playing as hard as I’ve seen him play since he’s been here. And I think that was a maturity step.

“He’s always had talent and he’s played well and had some really good games. But consistency is what makes great players.”

I wrote much more about Rudolph in today’s Palm Beach Post, including his thoughts on just how good this crop of receivers can be.

Read it here.

[Jimbo Fisher on Sean Maguire: ‘He deserves to be out there’]

[Healthy again, Dalvin Cook now becoming valuable leader for Florida State]

[Spring football injuries: Keith Bryant out after breaking bone in foot]

[Rick Leonard switching from defensive end to offensive tackle]

Florida State spring preview: Kicking game starting over

Kermit Whitfield's best season as a kickoff returner was as a freshman when he led the country with a 36.4 average.
Kermit Whitfield’s best season as a kickoff returner was as a freshman when he led the country with a 36.4 average.

Florida State’s spring practice starts today 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 have broken down each position over the last two weeks and conclude our series today with a look at special teams.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Projected starters: K: FR Ricky Aguayo. P: FR Logan Tyler. LS: JR Stephen Gabbard. KR: SR Kermit Whitfield, JR Travis Rudolph. PR: SR Jesus Wilson.

Key backups: SO Tarvarus McFadden, R-JR Jonathan Hernandez, SO Kevin Robledo.

What to watch for: The Seminoles had one of the nation’s steadiest and reliable kicker/punter combinations the last three years with Roberto Aguayo and Cason Beatty. Aguayo is taking his All-American talents to the NFL and Beatty has graduated. The jobs likely will go to two incoming freshmen: Ricky Aguayo  (Roberto’s brother) and Tyler. While Aguayo’s specialty is kicking, Tyler can do both. … Florida State’s return game is in good hands with experienced receivers handling the kickoff and punt return duties. Whitfield returns for his fourth season as the kickoff returner. He was 17th nationally last season with a 26.7 average (507 yards on 19 returns). … FSU will be looking to replace Jalen Ramsey as the secondary kick returner. Expect Rudolph and Tarvarus McFadden to get a look. … Wilson moved over from returning kicks early in his career to Rashad Greene’s replacement as the punt returner last season and had 111 yards on 26 returns.

In conclusion: Roberto Aguayo was as automatic as they come, ending his career converting 69 of 78 field goals and all 198 PATs. Can his brother be as trustworthy? If Ricky stumbles, Tyler excelled at both in high school. Ideally, FSU would like one to settle in as the kicker and kickoff man and one as the punter. … Whitfield is looking to get back to the dynamic kick returner he was as a freshman when he led the country with an average of 36.4 yards per return and scored two TDs, including the play that stands as the biggest of his career, a 100-yard TD in the fourth quarter of the national championship game against Auburn. … FSU would like to get more out of the punt return game which took a step back last season after Greene averaged 10.7-yards per return in 2014.

[Secondary: Two starting spots up for grabs]

[Linebackers: Seminoles must overcome the loss of two starters]

[Defensive line: Seminoles return mix of athletic ends, powerful tackles]

[Offensive line: Hoping to find strength in numbers]

[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?]