Position Preview: Wide Receivers
Key Players Lost: Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw
Biggest question entering 2014: Who will replace Shaw and Benjamin?
Florida State’s most important position battle during fall camp will be at wide receiver. Top receiver Rashad Greene is back for his senior season, but Florida State will have to replace its No. 2 and 3 receivers from last year. Florida State used a very limited rotation at receiver during the 2013 season relying almost exclusively on Greene, Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin.
With Shaw and Benjamin’s departures to the NFL there are now two gaping holes in Florida State receiver rotation. The Seminoles have talented options at receiver, but it is difficult to replace the unique skill sets that Shaw and Benjamin brought to the table. Shaw became known for his perfect routes out of the slot position. He also excelled at pulling down ever ball regardless of the punishing hits he endured.
6-foot-5, 234 pound wide receivers like Benjamin don’t come along every day. He provided Florida State with a rare combination of size and athleticism on the outside. Florida State and Jameis Winston were spoiled last season by Shaw and Benjamin and the battle to replace them will be one to watch leading up to the first game.
After spring practice the favorite to replace Kenny Shaw at slot receiver was sophomore Jesus Wilson. He has since been suspended from the team following a felony charge. Other options at slot receiver include Jarred Haggins and Kermit Whitfield. Haggins missed the entire 2013 season after suffering a knee injury in fall camp. He was back in time for spring practice, but he once again struggled to stay healthy.
Whitfield is one of the fastest players in the nation. He proved last season that he can contribute in a variety ways, but questions remain about his ability to serve as a consistent threat in the passing game. During his freshman season he was most dangerous on plays specifically designed to put the ball in his hands rather than as a typical receiver.
The bigger question is who will replace Kelvin Benjamin. There is no one on Florida State’s roster that can directly replace Benjamin, but the Seminoles do have talented options. Sophomore Isaiah Jones is the player who can come closest to replicating Benjamin’s blend of size and athleticism on the outside. Jones is 6 feet 4 inches tall and he is a very athletic player. Among Florida State’s veteran receivers, Jones’ biggest competition will come from redshirt-senior Christian Green, who served as Florida State’s No. 4 receiver last season. Green has struggled to find a role in the offense during his time at Florida State due in large part to his inconsistent play on the field. If he hopes to earn a major role in 2014 he will need to cut down on the drops and show the coaches that he can perform on a consistent basis.
The major x-factors in battle for playing time is the trio of talented freshmen Florida State signed in its 2014 recruiting class. Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane were both 5-star recruits out of high school and Ja’Vonn Harrison was a very high 4-star. If the veterans fail to assert themselves early look for the three freshmen to push for starting roles.
By: Brandon O’Connor