With the college football season nearing once again, the talks around the Florida State football program are the same as they have been for a number of years now. Is this the season that Florida State finally makes its way back to national prominence? Does FSU have what it takes to compete for a national championship?
Despite not being anything close to what they were in the 1990s, the Seminoles continue to have one winning season after another. As is usually the case, Florida State once again looks to have a very good defense, but it appears to be the offense that will make or break Florida State in 2012. But perhaps the reason why FSU has not had the type of offenses as it had during the 1990s is that the ‘Noles have lacked a nationally recognized play-maker.
Not since Marvin “Snoop” Minnis in 2000 has Florida State had a wide receiver or running back that the whole nation knew. Florida State has lacked that Heisman-caliber play-maker which could with a number of other things, help explain Florida State’s mediocrity on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, Florida State has had good players, NFL draft picks and a number of guys that can make you miss in the open field, but not since 2000 have the Seminoles had a guy that struck fear into opponents so much that the main focus of an opposing defense was to stop that guy.
For more than a decade now, FSU has been waiting for the next Warrick Dunn, Peter Warrick or Snoop Minnis. Not since 2002, has Florida State has a 1,000 receiver and the Seminoles have not had a rusher hit four digits in a single season since 1996 when Dunn finished with 1,180.
The Seminoles have had a number of players make national noise on the defensive side of the ball. Guys like Broderick Bunkley, Travis Johnson, Everette Brown, Ernie Sims and now Brandon Jenkins have all been household names nationally for college football fans. Florida State has even had offensive linemen like Alex Barron and Rodney Hudson go on to become All-Americans. But as far as skill players go, Florida State has not had an All-American since 2000 and have not even had an All-ACC selection since 2006 when Greg Carr was named to the conference’s second team. Not since 2003, have the Seminoles even had an ACC first-teamer when Craphonso Thorpe took home the honor.
Sophomore wide receiver Rashad Greene could perhaps be the next great skill player for Florida State. There have been guys with his potential, but for a number of reasons, never lived up to the hype. Anquan Boldin, who made his name as a top-tier NFL receiver, recorded more 1,000 yards for Florida State in 2002 and remains the last Seminole to do so. Boldin however, received little playing time in 2000 and missed the entire 2001 season to a knee injury before leaving early following the 2002 season. Boldin likely would have been a preseason All-American prior to the 2003 season, but couldn’t pass up the NFL.
Backs Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker each had All-American talent, but each suffered largely to a sub-par offensive line and having to split time during the early parts of the new millennium. Washington and Booker split time for most of their careers and combined for 1,838 yards in 2004, but the following year combined for less than 1,000 yards. With the starting running back position all to himself, Booker rushed for just 616 yards and four touchdowns as a senior in 2006.
Fred Rouse came to Tallahassee as one of the more decorated high school recruits in a long time in 2005. But Rouse played just one season at FSU after being kicked off the team for breaking into Booker’s apartment and stealing his belongings.
Greg Carr, a 6’6″ wide receiver who was a freshman with Rouse in 2005 was a touchdown machine and was as close to money as they came with the jump-ball. Carr had a decent career for Florida State and twice was named second team All-ACC. But aside from his ability to out-jump defenders, Carr was little more than a possession receiver.
Rashad Greene however, has the capability to be one of the best all around wide receivers in the country. As a freshman in 2011, Greene led the Seminoles with 38 receptions for 596 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing four games.While Greene’s collegiate career is only nine games old, Greene has already proven to be explosive and making plays seem to come natural to the speedster from Albany, Georgia.
The first three catches of Greene’s Florida State career all went for touchdowns. With the whole world watching as Florida State hosted top-ranked Oklahoma, it was Greene’s 56-yard catch and run that resulted in a FSU touchdown and had the Seminoles even with the top-ranked Sooners in the fourth quarter. Despite losses the next two weeks to Clemson and Wake Forest, Greene compiled a combined 20 catches for 261 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Greene missed the next four games to an ankle injury and seemed to still be hampered during his final three regular season games. In his final three regular season games, Greene combined for just seven catches and 40 yards. In FSU’s 21-7 win over arch-rival Florida, Greene was held without a catch. But with a month to recover, Greene returned to form in the Champs Sports Bowl.
For three quarters against Notre Dame, Florida State was thoroughly outplayed. The Seminoles closed a 14-0 deficit to 14-9 early in the fourth quarter. Greene’s acrobatic 15-yard touchdown reception from E.J. Manuel with 13:18 to play put Florida State ahead for good at 15-14. Later in the game, his diving 42-yard reception set up a Dustin Hopkins’ field goal to extend the lead to four and eventually earn the freshman MVP honors of the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl.
Greene missed almost all of the spring for Florida State which led redshirt freshman Kelvin Benjamin to capture a lot of the headlines. But for all of the size, speed and potential that Benjamin has, Greene has the edge in experience and has already shown the ability to make it happen on the field. Hopes for Florida State and its fans are that Benjamin and Greene both live up to potential and turn into one of the best receiving tandems in college football over the next few years. If there is something that can halt Greene’s All-American aspirations, it is that he has had some injury issues and the receiving corps is very deep. But if the first five games of last season and the Champs Sports Bowl are any indication of the type of player that Greene is, ACC defenses should be very worried. What’s really scary for Florida State opponents is that Greene is just a sophomore. And players with the play-making ability of Rashad Greene rarely peak as freshmen.
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