- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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Florida State's much-hyped quarterback competition was hardly at full speed during Thursday's drills. Jameis Winston was absent from the proceedings, part of a balancing act with his baseball career, and Jacob Coker was limited to a stationary bike due to a foot injury. But Jimbo Fisher said things are about to get much more interesting once spring practice begins, and he expects it to be a wide-open competition.
"I think I know what their abilities are, but you never know what somebody is capable of until they're put out there in a position to lead and take off," Fisher said. "You just have to let it happen and trust your eyes. Don't force it. Let them tell you. You can't tell them."
Among the three leading contenders for the job vacated by EJ Manuel, Clint Trickett was the only full participant Thursday, but both Winston and Coker should be back at work in time for spring practice, which begins March 20.
Coker has a minor foot injury and has been wearing a walking boot, but Fisher said he expects the sophomore "should be out there every day" this spring. Winston, who has been an integral part of the FSU baseball team thus far, will shift his focus back to football then, too, with Fisher assuring the freshman won't miss a single meeting or practice.
While Winston has only been a limited participant during fourth-quarter drills, his work has been impressive.
"He came over the other day and blew this thing away," Fisher said. "He flew around here like a wild man. He's in great shape, he's throwing, he's probably up there watching film by himself an hour or two hours a day. He's been right involved in the middle of everything."
While Winston has impressed, Fisher certainly isn't indicating he has a favorite in the race. In fact, he said he'll let what happens on the practice field -- both in the spring and potentially into fall camp -- decide who will win the starting job.
"It's going to be very interesting not only to see how they do their job but how they can make the other 10 guys around them do their job and make the guys on defense feel uncomfortable about them doing their job," Fisher said. "That's all important for a quarterback."
Missing spring: Fisher confirmed a handful of veterans are expected to miss spring practice.
Nickel corner Tyler Hunter was on crutches Thursday and will sit out all of spring drills. Fellow cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Nick Waisome will also miss the spring, leaving plenty of playing time for reserves like Colin Blake and P.J. Williams -- two players Fisher raved about Thursday.
Coaching carousel: Fisher said the six new assistant coaches have already transitioned into their new roles on Florida State's staff, and that players have responded well to the new voices thus far.
One intriguing footnote to all the changes is that Fisher will not give any of his assistants the title of offensive coordinator. James Coley had held that role for the past three seasons, though he never called the offensive plays. Coley left to take the offensive coordinator -- and play-caller -- job at Miami last month.
FSU's newest coaching hire, Tim Brewster, will take over as the team's recruiting coordinator.
Extra points: Fisher praised a number of players' efforts this spring, including oft-criticized lineman Bobby Hart. Hart will compete for the starting right tackle job this spring. ... Defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel is back to full strength after missing the past one-and-a-half seasons with an ankle injury. Fisher said McDaniel suffered a minor hamstring injury early on in offseason drills as he ramped up his work level, but that he's looked sharp since then. ... Defensive end Chris Casher is still rehabbing a knee injury that forced him to redshirt the 2012 season, but Fisher said he expects Casher to be a participant for "most of the spring."