FSU benefits from a revitalized offensive line
When Mike Norvell took over as Florida State’s football coach in 2020, he inherited one of the worst offensive lines in the country. A disappointing two-year streak saw the Seminoles allow more sacks (84) than 12 of 14 ACC teams.
Exhausted and desperate, Norvell made revitalizing the offensive line a priority. FSU signed 12 high school prospects over the next three recruiting classes and made six transfers in an effort to rebuild the unit. It’s a move that seemed to pay off, as the band demonstrated that depth this fall.
“I like the competition we have,” Norvell said of the unit last week. “You look at the three units that resume and there are some good sized guys there.”
FSU includes four returning starters in Robert Scott Jr., Dillan Gibbons, Maurice Smith and Darius Washington Jr., who have a total of 67 career starts. Thomas Shrader, Zane Herring, and Lloyd Willis have also appeared in games.
Adding transfers Bless Harris (Lamar), Kayden Lyles (Wisconsin), D’Mitri Emmanuel (Charlotte) and Jazston Turnetine (South Carolina) provided the Seminoles with four players who combined to take part in 3,273 offensive snaps during their career. .
The added depth and talent kept everyone on their toes.
“When I first came in, we really didn’t have much depth, but now you better know more about your stuff,” said Scott, a second-year tackle in a red shirt. “The good news is that we always help each other. We know we’re gonna put the top five [offensive linemen] there to win the game.
“Having that competitiveness at all levels makes everyone better. It lifts everyone to the top,” said Gibbons, who joined the scheme as a transfer in 2021.
An encouraging sign for the Seminoles was the signing of six offensive linemen as part of their 2022 recruiting class. These were the most offensive line prospects signed since the 2016 class and featured several 4-star athletes , including Qae’shon Sapp, Julian Early and Julian Armella.
“These six young guys… it’s going to be fun watching them grow and develop with everything that’s going on this year,” Norvell said.
Gibbons was impressed with the commitment of his young teammates.
“We have a lot of young guys who care about football,” Gibbons said. “It’s part of the brotherhood that we build within the offensive line unit. Take responsibility for our actions while critiquing and grading each other. Whether it’s watching a movie straight after practice or showing up to meetings 45 minutes early or during individual drills, it’s about coming together and showing the little nuances we learn one another.
“They work here and they’re probably better than me when I started. They want to work and they always ask me questions,” Scott said.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference with the offensive line for some has been the renewed commitment of players.
Gibbons credits communication between linemen and open dialogue between coaches for the growth of unity this offseason.
“The most important thing is to have an open dialogue,” he explained. “There are a lot of guys determined to become good football players. The first thing you have to do to become a good offensive lineman is commit to the process and our guys made that decision – for better or worse – but they made that decision.
“It’s great to be part of a group of guys who care and have a collective goal and are willing to work towards that and improve together.”
Even with the addition of four transfers, the willingness to discuss things helped the group through the process.
“They got here and it felt like they had been here a long time already,” Scott said. “That’s how close we’ve come because we also drag outside just being on the pitch.”
Said Gibbons, “We don’t just come to a meeting and have a new guy in the offensive line unit. It was a conversation. Take a person from the transfer portal and bring them here to Florida State, evaluate that player across different offensive line unit players and make a decision based on that. Again, we’re trying to find the right people, the right fit among the players we have here at Florida State.
“I’m really proud to be part of this offensive line.
Robinson gets the nod from Bednarik
Safety Jammie Robinson continued to rack up preseason accolades after the redshirt junior was named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list on Monday.
This is the third preseason watchlist for Robinson, who has also been named to the Jim Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy watchlists.
The Bednarik Award is given to the top defensive player in college football each season.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Matt Murschel at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.