Position Preview: Offensive Line
Key Player lost: Bryan Stork
Biggest question entering 2014: Will any newcomers earn a starting job?
Florida State’s offensive line returns almost intact in 2014. The only player Florida State must replace is center Bryan Stork. The favorite to do so is Austin Barron, who has made three career starts at the position. With the other four starters back for another year Florida State’s offensive line would look to be set for 2014. That may not be the case though.
The Seminoles signed a plethora of talented offensive linemen in this year’s recruiting class and a few of them have the talent to push for a starting job right away. The players most vulnerable are Barron, who has not officially earned the starting job, and Bobby Hart, who started at right tackle last season. Hart has been inconsistent throughout his career and will face still competition for the starting right tackle job during fall camp.
The biggest threat to steal the starting right tackle job from Hart is JUCO-transfer Chad Mavety. One of the top JUCO recruits in the country, Mavety is a talented lineman who is expected to replace Cameron Erving at left tackle in 2015. A good fall camp may enable him to earn a starting job a year earlier than expected though.
Fellow JUCO-transfer Kareem Are enrolled at Florida State in January after transferring from Fort Scott Community College. Are is listed as a guard and he quickly impressed coaches during the spring. He is a massive lineman and his physical tools may force the coaches to find a role for him. Incoming freshman Alec Eberle was one of the top centers in the class and he will serve as competition for Barron.
Florida State returns a very experience group of offensive linemen in 2014 including four-of-the-five starters from last season. The leader of the group is fifth-year senior Cameron Erving. A converted defensive tackle, Erving has started at left tackle for the last two years. He was expected to be a first or second round pick in this year’s NFL draft, but he chose to return to Florida State for his final year of eligibility. Erving is one of the top left tackles in the country and his ability to protect Jameis Winston’s blindside makes him an invaluable asset to the team.
Erving is joined on the line by two of the best interior lineman in the country. Seniors Tre’ Jackson and Josue Matias give Florida State as good a one-two-punch at offensive guard as any team in the country. Jackson and Matias are both physical maulers with the ability to dominate opposing defensive lineman. Their ability in the middle with help Florida State mask the potential drop-off in talent from Bryan Stork to his replacement at center. The final returning starter is right tackle Bobby Hart. As detailed above Hart’s hold on the starting job is far from secure. He has struggled at times against top tier defenders and he will need to battle for his job during fall camp.
The biggest change from 2013 to 2014 is the infusion of depth behind the starters. Florida State was extremely thin along the line last season. The Seminoles were extremely lucky during their championship run as the starting linemen stayed mostly healthy throughout the season. When starters were forced to miss time the offense struggled to move the ball. Florida State aggressively addressed this problem in recruiting signing seven offensive lineman in its 2014 class. The newcomers, along with veterans Ruben Carter and Wilson Bell, will provide Florida State with a safety net should an injury befall a starter.
By: Brandon O’Connor