Not since the 1999 wire-to-wire national championship team have the Seminoles been this loaded at the WR position. That’s when a guy by the name of Peter Warrick dazzled the nation with his electrifying moves and was far and away the most exciting player in all of college football. No disrespect to Heisman winner Ron Dayne, of course, but I think we all know who the best player in the country was back in ’99. That squad also featured future NFL Pro Bowlers Anquan Boldin and Laveranues Coles as well as Marvin “Snoop” Minnis and Robert Morgan. While saying that the 2012 corps could be just as good or better is high praise and high pressure, everything is in place for the receivers to be the type of game-breakers Seminole fans have been missing since the days of the great Peter Warrick.
This year’s receiving corps has the talent, versatility and experience to do something special in Tallahassee this season. There is a good mix of size and speed that could cause matchup problems galore for opposing defenses. From 5’9” freshman speedster Marvin Bracy (won the 100-meter dash at the 2011 USA Track and Field Junior Championships with a time of 10.05 seconds) who could make a huge impact on special teams, to a pair of 6’6” receivers in senior leader Rodney Smith and redshirt freshman Kelvin Benjamin, the Noles have a size and speed for every defensive back they’ll see this season. Oh, and there’s Rashad Greene, too.
Rashad Greene (6’0” 175) had a breakout season as a true freshman last year and 2012 should be an even more explosive year for the talented wide-out. Greene, a sophomore from perennial high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, played in only nine games due to injury but still racked up 596 yards and 7 touchdowns for the Noles. Greene is surrounded by playmakers at one of the deepest positions on the FSU roster.
Juniors Greg Dent (5’11” 185 / Glades Central HS) and Jared “Scooter” Haggins (6’1” 187 / Lakeland HS) look to step into a bigger role this season after the graduation of senior leader Bert Reed. Both Dent and Haggins have tremendous upside and will finally have a shot to make an impact for the Seminole offensive attack.
Another pair of juniors, Kenny Shaw (6’0” 170 / Orlando Dr. Phillips HS) and Willie Haulstead (6’2” 233 / Titusville HS) adds yet more explosiveness and depth to the FSU receiving attack. Shaw showed flashes of brilliance last year, catching 34 passes for 418 yards and 4 touchdowns while playing in all 13 games for the Noles. Look for him to step up and have a big year catching the ball for the Noles. Willie Haulstead returns to the field in 2012 after a pre-season concussion caused him to take a redshirt in 2011. Haulstead was one Florida State’s biggest receiving threats in his 2010 sophomore season, where he led the team with eight plays of 25 yards or more. Like many Nole fans, I’m excited to see him back on the field, and he should be ready to pick off right where he left off in 2010.
Christian Green (6’2” / 206), the former ninth-ranked receiver in the country coming out of Tampa Catholic in 2010, has a shot at seeing significant snaps this year after stepping in nicely last season for the injury plagued receiving corps. The redshirt sophomore had 450 yards last season and is the nephew of former FSU receiving great E.G. Green. There are a few guys still ahead of Green, but he is too talented not to make an impact before he leaves Tallahassee.
Redshirt freshman Kelvin Benjamin is a freak. Now I don’t mean freak as if he’s strange or collects ceramic owls or whatever, I mean freak in the same way Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson is called a freak. Trust me, that is a very good thing. Benjamin is 6’6” and 243 pounds, with reportedly single-digit body fat. He’s been reported as “dominating” so far in fall practice, and this is coming from one of the top defensive units in the country. He has all of the sports cliches wrapped into one: he’s big, he’s strong, and he’s fast. I saw him in person at the spring game and this is all true, he is indeed a monster receiver. I think Coach Fisher didn’t want to reveal too much of what the kid can really do, so I’m ready to see Kelvin Benjamin let loose on opposing defensive backs this fall.
Next Up: Offensive Line