ACC: Rhonne Sanderson
Coach: Rick Trickett
Position: Offensive line
Experience: He is entering his fifth season at Florida State and 39th overall. Trickett has coached at 11 different programs, including West Virginia, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State. He’s gone to a bowl game in each of the past nine seasons, including five of the six seasons he was with West Virginia. After just two seasons under Trickett, the Seminoles improved their rushing yards average by more than 70 yards per game. After one season at West Virginia, the Mountaineers' running game improved from 35th in the nation to second in 2002. From 2002-2006, West Virginia finished among the top 15 rushing offenses and three times were among the top five nationally.
Of note: Trickett is one of the most interesting characters in the ACC. He’s a U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam War veteran. He drives a Harley. And he’s regarded by many as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country. More than 30 of Trickett’s former players have gone on to play in the NFL. He earned his undergraduate degree in 1972 from Glenville (W.Va.), where he was an all-conference strong safety. He received his master's degree from Indiana (Pa.) in 1975.
His challenge: Reload. Florida State must replace its top two offensive linemen in Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon. Trickett has plenty of experience to work with, but depth is an issue. Significant strides will have to be made this summer, as spring was a time to heal. Left tackle Andrew Datko was out with a shoulder injury, right tackle Zebrie Sanders was out after abdominal surgery, and left guard David Spurlock, who started the first seven games of 2010 before suffering a concussion, was only about 50 percent because of a hand/wrist injury. Key reserves like Rhonne Sanderson (foot injury) and Blake Snider (ankle injury) were missing. Jacob Fahrenkrug was supposed to take over at left guard, but finished the spring starting at center. This fall, the starting lineup will consist of LT Datko, LG Bryan Stork or Spurlock, C Fahrenkrug, RG Spurlock or Stork, RT Sanders. It’s up to Trickett to coach ‘em up.
2010 overall record: 10-4
2010 conference record: 6-2
Offense: 8, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 2
QB EJ Manuel, WR Bert Reed, WR Taiwan Easterling, LT Andrew Datko, RG David Spurlock, RT Zebrie Sanders, RB Chris Thompson, RB Jermaine Thomas, DE Brandon Jenkins, DT Jacobi McDaniel, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Greg Reid, CB Xavier Rhodes, PK Dustin Hopkins, P Shawn Powell
LG Rodney Hudson, C Ryan McMahon, QB Christian Ponder, DE Markus White, LB Kendall Smith, LB Mister Alexander
2010 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Thompson* (845 yards)
Passing: Ponder (2,044 yds)
Receiving: Reed* (614 yds)
Tackles: Bradham* (98)
Sacks: Jenkins* (13.5)
Interceptions: Rhodes* and Mike Harris* (4)
1. Depth on both sides. Florida State returns all three leading rushers from last year, each of whom had at least 400 rushing yards in 2010. All of the Noles’ top receivers are back, but coach Jimbo Fisher was also pleased with young receivers like Jared Haggins and Greg Dent. The defensive line is deep, and the staff learned that Lamarcus Joyner can play safety at the collegiate level. The kicking game will be a strength, as FSU might have the best punter/kicker combo in the country. Dustin Hopkins booted a 60-yard field goal in the spring game.
2. Defensive improvement: The defense really made some strides in terms of knowing what it has to do, and has become more comfortable in the second season under coordinator Mark Stoops. The Noles found more depth on defense, as playmakers emerged even with players sidelined with injuries. The young linebackers were a particularly promising group.
3. It’s EJ’s offense now. In what was the first spring session he was healthy enough to participate in, quarterback EJ Manuel emerged as a leader heading into his first season as a full-time starter. He showed he can take command of the offense and goes into summer camp with nobody looking over his shoulder. He’s 4-2 as a starter and was able to take another step forward this spring.
1. Backup quarterbacks: Clint Trickett and Will Secord will take their competition into the summer, but Trickett got more opportunities in the spring game and made the most of them. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 137 yards. Secord completed 3 of 9 passes for 25 yards, but a clear No. 2 has yet to be named.
2. What will the offensive line really look like? It was a patchwork group this spring, as left tackle Andrew Datko was out with a shoulder injury, right tackle Zebrie Sanders was out after abdominal surgery, and left guard David Spurlock, who started the first seven games of 2010 before suffering a concussion, was only about 50 percent because of a hand/wrist injury. Key reserves like Rhonne Sanderson (foot injury) and Blake Snider (ankle injury) were missing. Jacob Fahrenkrug was supposed to take over at left guard, but finished the spring starting at center. This fall, the starting lineup will consist of LT Datko, LG Bryan Stork or Spurlock, C Fahrenkrug, RG Spurlock or Stork, RT Sanders. Despite the losses of Hudson and McMahon, there is experience up front, but building depth remains an issue.
3. How good is the defensive line? There’s no doubting Florida State’s defensive line will be good, but with the offensive line riddled with injuries, it was impossible to tell how good it can be. Newcomer Tank Carradine didn’t get a chance to go against Sanders or Datko, leaving for an unfair assessment.
Starters Andrew Datko, Zebrie Sanders and David Spurlock, and key backup Rhonne Sanderson all missed Saturday's spring game, making it difficult to truly get a read on what kind of progress the Seminoles made this spring under first-year starting quarterback EJ Manuel.
Manuel was sacked six times. One interception was returned for a touchdown. And both teams combined for 19 rushing yards.
The numbers are deceiving not only because of the injuries but also because of the 12 sacks. With a young, patchwork offensive line leading the way, the defense should have the better day.
"Hard to tell either way," coach Jimbo Fisher said, according to the team's practice report. "It’s hard to tell on offense, hard to tell on defense."
Manuel completed 17 of 37 pass attempts for 204 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions -- and his team lost, 19-17. Clint Trickett, who started for the Garnet, was 13-of-22 for 137 yards. Will Secord also played for the Garnet and hit three of his nine attempts for 25 yards.
Aside from kicker Dustin Hopkins, the highlight of Florida State's spring game was probably its announced attendance 53,818 -- 818 more than Florida's spring game. The score that counts, though, won't come until Nov. 26.
If there's one thing we learned from Florida State's spring game, it's that the Seminoles will at least need their veteran linemen healthy in order to live up to the preseason hype.
- The center position is one of the biggest questions marks facing the Noles following the graduation of Ryan McMahon. David Spurlock is injured and will participate in the early practices, but will be limited as contact increases. Bryan Stork has been working with quarterback EJ Manuel in Spurlock's absence, but Fisher will have to teach two or three players the position, including true freshmen Sterling Lovelady and Trey Pettis. “We'll train a lot of guys,” Fisher said.
- Over the past two and a half months, not one player has missed his weight workout.
- Injured players who will be missing when practices start on Monday: Defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel, offensive tackles Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, linebacker Holmes Onwukaife, linebacker Jeff Luc, offensive lineman Blake Snider, safety Nick Moody, offensive lineman Rhonne Sanderson, and punter Shawn Powell (he has an injured disc in his back, which also bothered him last year, but Fisher said he should be close to ready by the end of the spring).
- Running back Jermaine Thomas is still suspended, but it’s unclear how long that will last, according to Fisher. Last month, Thomas was arrested twice in one week for driving with a suspended license. “We’re still evaluating that,” Fisher said. “He’s doing well. I’ve been very pleased with his progress right now, the things he’s doing off the field, in the classroom. We’re evaluating that daily right now. I’ll make a decision on that here coming up. He may miss some, he may not. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Spring practice starts: March 15
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- The progression of quarterback Chase Rettig. As a true freshman, Rettig replaced Dave Shinskie as starter against Notre Dame on Oct. 2. He’ll only get better with more experience, and there’s room for improvement, as he threw nine interceptions and six touchdowns. He completed 51.3 percent of his passes for 137.6 yards per game. Two of those picks came in the 20-13 loss to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, but he’s expected to take an important step forward this offseason and will need to if BC is going to graduate from the nation’s 109th best offense.
- The offense under a new coordinator. Kevin Rogers replaced Gary Tranquill, who retired after the bowl game, and the Eagles will have to adjust to a new scheme and system, starting this spring. Rogers said he'll adapt his system to the personnel he has to work with, but considering he was hired on Monday, there hasn't been much time for him to evaluate film.
- The revamped offensive line. BC has to replace three starters up front, including left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Thomas Claiborne and right tackle Rich Lapham. Emmett Cleary and center Mark Spinney are returning starters, and left guard Ian White started a few games at the end of the year. Bryan Davis, Claiborne’s backup at right guard, and John Wetzel, Castonzo’s backup, are frontrunners to earn starts.
Spring practice starts: March 7
Spring game: April 9
What to watch:
- Quarterback Tajh Boyd. Prior to the arrival of two early enrollees, Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, and his experience alone -- albeit limited -- makes it his job to lose. The staff wants him to become a little more accurate and consistent this spring. His education was accelerated at this time a year ago when former quarterback Kyle Parker spent the spring playing baseball, but that was under former offensive coordinator Billy Napier. He’s got a new coordinator -- and a new offense to learn.
- The new offensive scheme. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brings an up-tempo style similar to that of Auburn’s, and the Tigers will have to learn it as quickly as he’ll want them to execute it. Morris has said Boyd is suited just right to lead it. Morris will want to stretch the field in every direction, depend on a strong running game and include long pass plays. He’s tasked with improving an offense that ranked No. 10 in the ACC in both scoring offense and total offense.
- Defense up the middle. It starts up front, where the Tigers have to replace defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. Linebacker Brandon Maye, who played in the middle a lot, decided to transfer, and safety DeAndre McDaniel, who controlled the middle of the field in the secondary, has also graduated. The Tigers have the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 1 outside linebacker in the country in this year’s recruiting class, but they won’t arrive until the summer. For now, Corico Hawkins returns as a starting middle linebacker, while Quandon Christian is likely to stay on the outside. Rennie Moore will replace Jenkins, but McDaniel’s spot is up for grabs.
Spring practice starts: March 21
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- Big holes on the offensive line. There’s depth, experience and incoming talent, but there are also big shoes to fill with the graduation of left guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon. Right guard David Spurlock has been seen snapping on the sidelines at practices, indicating he could move to center, while recovering from concussions and going through rehab. McMahon’s backup was Jacob Stanley. Henry Orelus, Bryan Stork and Rhonne Sanderson all started at right guard for Spurlock when he was out. Junior college transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug, the No. 4 overall junior college prospect, could have an immediate impact at left guard.
- Backup quarterback battle. With EJ Manuel a lock as the starter, the attention turns to the No. 2 spot. Clint Trickett, a redshirt freshman and son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and Will Secord, a redshirt sophomore, are the top two candidates. Secord was named the most improved quarterback of the spring at this time a year ago. Neither of them have thrown a collegiate pass.
- Linebackers. The Seminoles will have to replace two starters in Kendall Smith and Mister Alexander. Nigel Bradham is the only returning starter. This spring will feature competition among Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and Jeff Luc. It’s a more talented crop waiting in the wings, but inexperience is a factor. It’s a chance for Luc and Jones -- two of FSU’s top recruits in the 2010 class -- to remind everyone why they were rated the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 2 outside linebacker, respectively, in the country.
Spring practice starts: March 29
Spring game: April 30
What to watch:
- New staff, new schemes. First-year coach Randy Edsall wants to be multiple, get vertical and take advantage of quarterback Danny O’Brien’s strengths. The departure of former defensive coordinator Don Brown to Connecticut was a surprise and a blow to the defense, which will now have to make a transition under a new coordinator who has yet to be hired.
- Competition at linebacker. Two starters have to be replaced in Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, who were also both leaders of the defense. Demetrius Hartsfield returns as a starter, but the new staff will have to figure out who else fits into what slots. Ben Pooler has had knee trouble, but he is expected to compete with Darin Drakeford and Ryan Donohue, who were both No. 2 at their respective positions in 2010.
- Special teams. Not only did the Terps lose a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, they also have to replace their top kick returner and conference leader in all-purpose yards in receiver Torrey Smith, who left early for the NFL. Nick Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. He’ll be the only scholarship kicker on the roster until incoming freshman Nathaniel Renfro joins the team this summer. Dexter McDougle has returned kickoffs in the past, and Trenton Hughes is another option, but with a new staff, it could be a clean slate.
Spring practice starts: March 17
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- Mike Glennon. The team is moving forward as if starter Russell Wilson won’t return, promoting Glennon to No. 1 on the depth chart. The offense will have a new look, as the plays will be suited to Glennon’s strengths. At 6-foot-7, he’s much taller than Wilson, a more prototypical drop-back passer with a strong arm. While the plays might look different to the fans, they’re the same ones Glennon has been practicing since the day he arrived on campus. He’s a smart, unflappable player scheduled to graduate this May, but we haven’t seen enough of him to know just how good he is.
- A new crop of receivers. NC State will have to replace three seniors in Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis. Spencer and Williams led the Pack in receiving last year, combining for nine touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. NC State will turn to Jay Smith, who had 10 catches in 12 games, Steven Howard, Quintin Payton, and T.J. Graham, who had four touchdowns and played in all 13 games. Payton played a little more toward the end of the year, and he’s a tall, big target (about 6-foot-4) and comparable to Williams. Bryan Underwood, who redshirted last year, could also contribute.
- Running back competition. James Washington had taken over the starting job at the end of 2010, but he’ll be pushed this spring by Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene, who led the team in rushing in 2010 as a true freshman. They’ll also be under the direction of a new assistant coach, as Jason Swepson is now the head coach at Elon. It will be the first time Greene has been in a spring practice, and Washington, who was hurt last year, is finally healthy.
Spring practice starts: March 15
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- Progress of quarterback Tanner Price. The maturation of Price, who started nine games as a true freshman last year, will be crucial to the Deacs’ hopes of returning to the postseason. Price was forced to play earlier than expected and finished with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,349 yards.
- A defense in transition. Coach Jim Grobe has said the staff is committed to making the transition to a 3-4 defense. The Deacons used that scheme to defend the triple option against Georgia Tech and Navy, and continued to experiment with it as the season progressed. This linebackers in this year’s recruiting class were brought in specifically with the 3-4 defense in mind.
- Redshirt offensive linemen. There were three true freshmen who redshirted last year who are expected to give four returning starters some legitimate competition -- Colin Summers, Dylan Heartsill and Daniel Blitch. The Deacs will also have to replace starting center Russell Nenon. Chance Raines was his backup last year.
Strongest position: Offensive line
Key returnees: All five starters return in Andrew Datko, Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon, David Spurlock and Zebrie Sanders.
Key departures: Backup Brandon Davis has decided to graduate and move on instead of returning for his fifth season. He stared in place of Hudson the last two games of the regular season.
The skinny: This group will finally have seniors in McMahon and Hudson, and collectively there are 142 career starts between the five returning starters. Last year, all five of Florida State’s offensive linemen were nominated by opposing ACC coaches for all-conference honors. Assistant Rick Trickett said he’s never had that happen to one of his groups before. Sanders and Rhonne Sanderson are both injured. Sanders will be fine by summer camp and Sanderson is limited this spring after foot surgery.
Weakest position: Secondary
Key returnees: CB Ochuko Jenije
Key departures: CB Patrick Robinson, FS Jamie Robinson, RV Korey Mangum
The skinny: Aside from Jenije, the only returning starter, no one in the secondary has played more than one season. There are high expectations for cornerback Greg Reid, who will get a long look this spring to replace Patrick Robinson. Redshirt freshman Xavier Rhodes will also get a chance there. Terrance Parks and Nick Moody were both the backups at safety last year, and they’ll get an opportunity to move up. Redshirt freshmen Justin Bright and Gerald Demps will also challenge at safety.
Quarterback Christian Ponder (shoulder) and offensive tackle Rhonne Sanderson (ankle) will participate in spring practice on a limited basis initially as they continue to recover, while guard David Spurlock (knee) and center A.J. Ganguzza (elbow) have recovered sufficiently to participate from the start.
Also, offensive tackle Antwane Greenlee is still rehabilitating from knee surgery in the fall and will participate on a limited basis at this point.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
I've been breaking down the top position battles to watch heading into summer camp the last few days. Today it's Florida State's turn. Here's a look at the top spots up for grabs in Tallahassee:
QUARTERBACK: Drew Weatherford is the starter and will probably be out there at the start of the season, but it will most likely be a yearlong position battle as it has been the last two years. Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson will be pushing him.
WIDE RECEIVER: Greg Carr and Preston Parker start but Parker is out the first two games. Junior college transfer Corey Surrency will battle redshirt-junior Rod Owens and talented redshirt-freshman Bert Reed to get on the field immediately.
O-LINE: Now that Evan Bellamy is out, Rodney Hudson may move back to guard (where he was a freshman All-American last year). That leaves true freshmen Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders battling to protect Weatherford. If Hudson stays at tackle, you still have two true freshmen (David Spurlock and Rhonne Sanderson) battling to start at LG.
DEFENSIVE END: On the right side it will be a battle for Neefy Moffett to play with consistency and hold off Kevin McNeil.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Paul Griffin and Kendrick Stewart enter the year vying to start at NG and Justin Mincey is listed as co-No. 1 with Budd Thacker at DT.
FREE SAFETY: Big battle here to replace Roger Williams. Darius McClure is the veteran who has the spot right now but Jamie Robinson (an All-ACC freshman corner in 2006) has made the move to safety and is challenging him.
PLACEKICKER: Replacing Gary Cismesia (the fifth-most prolific kicker in school history) is falling to punter Graham Gano. In FSU history there has never been one player who handled both the kicking and punting duties. Delaware transfer Zach Hobby will challenge Gano for place-kicking duties.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Just found out that Evan Bellamy, the Seminoles' starting left guard will be out for the season with a blood clot in his leg.
What does it mean?
It leaves FSU with just two guys who have starting experience -- and they're both sophomores.
This is the first time in school history the offensive line is without a junior or a senior.
Former starting right tackle Daron Rose, a junior and the most experienced player at the position, flunked out of school, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and two backups were among the handful of players suspended for the academic scandal.
Still, FSU is not lacking young talent. Center Ryan McMahon and left tackle Rodney Hudson are two super sophs coming off strong freshmen seasons. McMahon, a converted defensive lineman, was the only freshman or sophomore in the FBS to take every offensive snap for his team at center. He allowed just two sacks in 959 plays. Hudson graded out as the Seminoles' top offensive lineman and only missed five assignments all season and allowed one sack.
It looks like redshirt freshman Antwane Greenlee will also move into Rose's starting role after missing last season with a cervical sprain, and redshirt freshman Will Furlong should be the starting right guard. Bellamy's position is now up for grabs. This could be an opportunity for newcomer Rhonne Sanderson, who was ranked the No. 64 offensive tackle by ESPN's Scouts Inc. Sophomore Jacob Stanley was Bellamy's backup, though, on the spring depth chart.
The good news? Florida State opens with Western Carolina and Chattanooga, giving these young guys time to find some cohesiveness.
The bad news? They play Wake Forest on Sept. 20, the last day of the suspensions.