NCF Nation: Bert Reed

Instant analysis: FSU 18, Notre Dame 14

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
9:06
PM ET


ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida State scored 15 points in the final frame to storm back and beat Notre Dame 18-14 to win the Champs Sports Bowl. Here's how it went down:

Turning point: In a less-than-two-minute span to start the fourth quarter, Florida State made up for the first three. EJ Manuel hit Bert Reed for an 18-yard score, Nigel Bradham picked off Andrew Hendrix on the ensuing drive and Manuel then hit Rashad Greene for a 15-yard score to make it 15-14 with 13:18 left. Twelve quick points after just three through the first 45 minutes were enough for the Seminoles.

Stat of the game: Pick your poison: Ten combined penalties or four combined turnovers? This game was sloppy on both ends for three quarters, and Florida State was able to capitalize on the miscues at the end and come out victorious.

Player of the game: Greene proved a tough man to stop in the second half. He finished the game with five catches for 99 yards and a touchdown, including an outstanding 42-yard grab that he bobbled and hung onto near the sideline on a third-and-6 in the fourth quarter. (It was challenged and upheld.)

Second guessing: Tommy Rees threw two interceptions in the end zone and might have had a third if not for a spectacular touchdown grab by Michael Floyd. In a game that was dominated by both defenses, Notre Dame simply could not afford to give away its precious few opportunities.

What it means: Florida State got its ninth victory and will likely finish the season ranked. Notre Dame falls to 8-5, its same record as last season, and questions will continue to mount about the quarterback position, which has nearly as many questions to end the season as it did to begin.

Record performance: Jamoris Slaughter's two sacks were two more than he had his entire career and were a Champs Sports Bowl record. The 68,305 in attendance made up the bowl's biggest crowd since it moved to Orlando.

Less than two minutes later, FSU leads

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
8:21
PM ET
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Florida State entered the fourth quarter trailing 14-3. Naturally, it has scored two touchdowns in the first 1:42 of the final frame, giving the Seminoles a 15-14 lead with 13:18 left.

E.J. Manuel hit Bert Reed for an 18-yard strike on the quarter's first play, Nigel Bradham picked off Andrew Hendrix four plays later and, just like that, Manuel hit Rashad Greene with a 15-yard touchdown pass on the drive's second play.

For a game lacking in offense most of the way, we have ourselves a thriller here with just more than 13 minutes left.

College GameDay

October, 8, 2011
10/08/11
9:57
AM ET


Pregame notes from Death Valley

September, 24, 2011
9/24/11
3:07
PM ET
CLEMSON, S.C. - A few quick lineup changes for you:

For Florida State, freshman Nick O'Leary will start in place of senior Beau Reliford at tight end, noseguard Anthony McCloud got the start of Jacobbi McDaniel, and Mike Harris will start at corner instead of Greg Reid. I am told receivers Kenny Shaw and Bert Reed are still game-time decisions. I expect an announcement here in the press box shortly before kickoff. Both are out on the field right now, dressed and running practice routes.

Truth? It would be stunning to me if Shaw -- after the viscious double helmet-to-helmet hit he took last week from Oklahoma -- played in this game and starting quarterback EJ Manuel didn't, but hey, I'm not a doctor and FSU has already confirmed that backup quarterback Clint Trickett will start. Manuel didn't even warm up. His receivers at least look like they're ready.

For Clemson, Brandon Thomas will start at left guard instead of Mason Cloy, and running back Andre Ellington (hamstring) is cleared and back in the starting lineup.

As early as three hours before the game, traffic into Death Valley was slower than a crawl, and the tailgating scene was in full force long before then. There have been a few sightings of Florida State fans, but this is Clemson's home and the Garnet and Gold is hard to find. Most of the fans are still outside the stadium at this point, but the Hill is starting to fill up.

This is one of the toughest venues in the ACC. We'll find out soon enough if Trickett is ready for it.

College GameDay Live

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
11:00
AM ET
Florida State wide receiver and outfielder Taiwan Easterling has signed a professional contract with the Chicago Cubs and will not return to school, the university announced Thursday night.

“Taiwan and I talked and he’s decided to pursue his career in baseball,” coach Jimbo Fisher said in a prepared statement. “I totally support him 100 percent. He did an outstanding job for us.

“I would have loved to have him back, but I totally understand him pursuing his future endeavors. Baseball is the way for him to go and we wish him nothing but the best.”

The good news: Florida State is still very talented at wide receiver and there's a lot of young stars waiting in the wings.

The bad news: It's one less veteran receiver for first-year starting quarterback EJ Manuel to work with.

Bert Reed (58 catches) and Willie Haulstead (38 catches, six touchdowns), will now likely be the go-to receivers. The Noles are also excited about sophomore Jared Haggins, redshirt freshman Christian Green, and sophomore Greg Dent, who played mostly on special teams as a true freshman last year. Rodney Smith (31 catches, three touchdowns) and Kenny Shaw should also see some time. There are plenty of helping hands available, but there's no doubt FSU will miss Easterling's experience.
You asked, I answered. Readers (particularly @AsylumGodfather) were calling for more position rankings, so the receivers are up next. This could be the strongest position group in the conference, and one of the more difficult to rank, so I looked back on a few stats to help me separate them, including how some of these guys did against their best competition (i.e. Danny Coale versus FSU, wow). Here’s the final verdict of which teams in the ACC have the best combination of depth and talent:

1. Virginia Tech: With Jarrett Boykin and Coale returning, the Hokies’ passing game has a chance to flourish this fall. Boykin, Coale and Dyrell Roberts were the team’s top three receivers last year for the second straight season, combining for 113 catches, 1,882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Add to that Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles, E.L. Smiling -- it’s a bottomless cup of depth and talent.

2. Duke: Conner Vernon has 128 catches in his first two collegiate seasons and Donovan Varner ranked fourth in the ACC in pass receptions (60) and seventh in yardage (736). Their combined 274 receptions are the most of any active duo in the ACC. They are the top two returning leaders in catches per game, and Vernon is the ACC’s returning leader in receiving yards per game. The Blue Devils also have sophomore Brandon Braxton (14 catches), who could make a name for himself as the third option this year.

3. Florida State: Every Seminole who caught a pass last season returns. Bert Reed, Taiwan Easterling and Rodney Smith return with a combined 50 career starts. Reed ranks second among all returning ACC receivers with 141 career receptions. Willie Haulstead had 38 catches last season, Smith had 31, and there’s plenty of rising talent like Christian Green.

4. North Carolina: Like Florida State, North Carolina returns all of its receivers, including two who redshirted last season. Dwight Jones, who had 946 yards and 62 receptions, leads the group, but Erik Highsmith (25 catches, 348 yards and three touchdowns) must be accounted for as well. Defenses also can’t forget about Jheranie Boyd, who is a deep threat.

5. Miami: The Canes will miss the production of Leonard Hankerson, but they don’t have to if one or two of the other players show more consistency. Travis Benjamin has big-play capabilities and averaged 17.3 yards on his 43 catches last season. There is no shortage of other options with LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Tommy Streeter, Allen Hurns and Kendal Thompkins. Which one will rise to the occasion?

6. Clemson: It was the DeAndre Hopkins show last season, and he should again highlight the Tigers’ passing game. As a true freshman, Hopkins had 52 catches, the most by a first-year player in school history. Jaron Brown returns with 10 career starts, and the Tigers also have Marquan Jones (21 catches) and Bryce McNeal (19).

7. Maryland: The Terps have to replace their top two receivers from a year ago in Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon, and no clear frontrunners emerged this spring. Quintin McCree leads all returners with 16 catches, followed by Kevin Dorsey (15), Ronnie Tyler (13), Kerry Boykins (10), and Tony Logan.

8. Boston College: True freshman Bobby Swigert led the Eagles last year with 39 catches and four touchdowns in five starts. The Eagles are hoping to get a significant boost from the return of Colin Larmond Jr., who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but the young group should be better regardless because of the experience gained last season.

9. Virginia: The Cavaliers will miss Dontrelle Inman, who averaged 16 yards per catch on 51 receptions, but returning starter Kris Burd finished fifth in the ACC last season in pass receptions (58). The group will also get a boost from the return of Tim Smith, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, and Matt Snyder (30 catches) and Ray Keys (three catches).

10. NC State: NC State has to replace its top two receivers from a year ago, and T.J. Graham is the team’s leading returning receiver with 25 catches. Steven Howard, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton all have experience, and redshirt freshman Bryan Underwood, Tobias Palmer and Everett Proctor have also been competing for playing time.

11. Wake Forest: Chris Givens (35 catches, 13.7 average), Michael Campanaro (10 catches) and Danny Dembry are the lead candidates to start, but the Deacs are missing a spark like Kenny Moore (2007) and D.J. Boldin (2008) provided. There were too many dropped passes in the spring game, so this group has some work to do in summer camp.

12. Georgia Tech: Yes, Georgia Tech throws the ball, just not often enough or efficiently enough to be anywhere but last place on this list. Stephen Hill led the Jackets last year with 15 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He should show progress this fall now that there’s no pressure on him to be the next Demaryius Thomas. If he doesn’t show more consistency, the Jackets could turn to Daniel McKayhan, Tyler Melton or Jeremy Moore.
Florida State held its first scrimmage of the spring on Monday and on Tuesday evening released the stats. The Seminoles' practices and scrimmages are closed to fans and the media. Here are the highlights, based on the school's report:

Offensive highlights:
  • Quarterback EJ Manuel completed 29 of 42 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns (two to receiver Bert Reed and one to fullback Lonnie Pryor).
  • Reed had a six-yard touchdown reception and a 36-yard touchdown catch in a two-minute situation. Reed finished the day with seven receptions for 81 yards.
  • Pryor’s reception came from seven yards out in a red zone situation.
  • Running back Jermaine Thomas rushed nine times for 121 yards.
  • FSU’s starting offensive line of Henry Orelus, Jacob Stanley, Jacob Fahrenkrug, Bryan Stork and Garrett Faircloth each worked 65 plays. Fahrenkrug at center and Faircloth at right tackle both earned the highest grades on the line.
Defensive highlights:
  • Linebackers Christian Jones and Telvin Smith each had eight tackles. Smith also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown.
  • Cornerback Greg Reid had five tackles with two pass breakups and Mike Harris had six solo tackles and a pass breakup.
It’s time to reload in the ACC. Here’s a look at the position needs for each team in the Atlantic Division for the 2011 signing class:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Offensive linemen: Six players on the final two-deep roster for 2010 were either juniors or seniors, and the Eagles will have to find replacements for Anthony Castonzo, Rich Lapham and Thomas Claiborne. There were two juniors at center in 2011, and the recruiting overall at this position hasn’t been as strong in recent years.

Defensive linemen: The Eagles have been thin at the position to begin with since the departures of Ron Brace and B.J. Raji. The interior line should be a priority, as tackle Damik Scafe will graduate, and Kaleb Ramsey will be a senior. Defensive end Brad Newman will also graduate.

CLEMSON

[+] EnlargeDa'Quan Bowers
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesReplacing Da'Quan Bowers is a top priority for Clemson.
Defensive line: The early departure of defensive end Da’Quan Bowers and the loss of Jarvis Jenkins makes this group a priority. Seven of the eight players up front on the final two-deep roster were either juniors or seniors.

Quarterback: Prior to the early enrollees, Clemson only had one scholarship quarterback on the roster -- projected starter Tajh Boyd. The depth needs to be rebuilt after the loss of starter Kyle Parker and transfer of backup Willy Korn.

Running back: The early departure of Jamie Harper to the NFL left a hole in the Tigers’ lineup. It’s not completely empty, as Andre Ellington remains the best back on the roster and Roderick McDowell was a redshirt freshman backup to Harper.

FLORIDA STATE

Offensive lineman – The departures of Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon will leave gaping holes up front, and A.J. Ganguzza and Antwane Greenlee aren’t expected to return. Overall, the staff is looking for bigger, better players. With the exception of right guard, this was a veteran group.

Running back: Despite the current depth, the coaching staff still wanted to sign about three more running backs in this class.

Wide receiver: This would be the third priority for the staff. Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling will both be seniors, but the team has lacked some dynamic playmakers at the position.

Linebacker: The Noles lost two starters from last year’s Atlantic Division championship team, and there are several young players on the rise like Jeff Luc and Telvin Smith, but the staff wants more numbers at the position.

Safety: The Noles need an upgrade at this position.

Defensive line: This is a matter of mostly building depth and size and continuing to get better.

MARYLAND

Kicker/ Punter: Nick Ferrara has the ability to do both, but he also struggled at both in 2010. Travis Baltz was a four-year starter at punter who has to be replaced. The kicking game should be a top priority in this class, and a concern if Ferrara doesn’t become more consistent.

Wide receiver: The early departure of standout Torrey Smith to the NFL leaves quarterback Danny O'Brien without a favorite target. Seven of the nine receivers listed on the most current depth chart for 2010 were either juniors or seniors.

Running back: The Terps have to replace starter Da’Rel Scott, and Davin Meggett will be a senior. There is some talent behind Meggett in D.J. Adams, but the position could use more depth.

Secondary: Six of the top 10 players in the secondary were either juniors or seniors in 2010, including safety Antwine Perez, who will graduate. Kenny Tate and Cameron Chism will both be seniors, and the corner position is the biggest need.

Defensive end: Defensive coordinator Don Brown would like to bring in at least one player who can really bring some speed off the edge.

NC STATE

Kickers: The Wolfpack lost their starting punter and place-kicker, easily making kickers the biggest need in this recruiting class.

Defensive linemen: With the exception of sophomore Brian Slay, the entire 2010 line was comprised of juniors and seniors. The Pack have to replace two starters, and two returning starters, Jeff Rieskamp and J.R. Sweezy, will be seniors.

Linebackers: This was another veteran group for NC State, with five of the six players on the two-deep either juniors or seniors. Nate Irving’s graduation will be a big hit and Audie Cole will be a senior.

Quarterback: If Russell Wilson leaves early, the position will be even thinner, but backup Mike Glennon will be a junior, so the staff needs to build more depth.

WAKE FOREST

Offensive linemen: The Deacs will have four redshirt juniors returning up front, and have to replace redshirt senior center Russell Nenon. The staff is looking to increase the depth and talent up front.

Linebackers: The position hasn’t been the same since the 2008 class (Aaron Curry and Stanley Arnoux). They were both drafted and two of the fastest players the program has ever seen. The staff needs to bring in more talent and speed here.

FSU all-access on ESPNU tonight

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
11:26
AM ET
An inside look at Florida State under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher will air at 7 p.m. ET tonight on ESPNU in an all-access piece about the Seminoles.

There's no question who's in control at Florida State now, as one of the first things you'll hear is Fisher screaming. I got an advanced copy, so I've seen it already, and it's a good behind-the-scenes look at how Fisher is running the show -- with authority.

The piece was shot in the week leading up to the Wake Forest game, and starts off with an 8 a.m. staff meeting. My personal favorite is seeing offensive line coach Rick Trickett sitting there with a cigar hanging out of his mouth. (If only they had gotten a shot of him riding in on his Harley.) It's also a chance to see first-year coordinator Mark Stoops at work, a look at the strength program with Vic Viloria, a few team meetings, and of course, practice.

Fisher is pretty much all business, but he'll joke around with his players, too. He yelled at receiver Bert Reed, "hate for you to break a sweat, Bert!"

Things have changed at Florida State, and this is one opportunity to see how.
video

ACC power rankings: Week 10

November, 2, 2009
11/02/09
9:19
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

We’re now in the final month of the regular season (can't believe it), and separation has officially occurred with Georgia Tech all alone at the top. Florida State and North Carolina both moved up, but for the most part, there was little change in this week’s rankings:

1. Georgia Tech (8-1, 5-1; LW: No. 1): The Yellow Jackets moved up to No. 10 in this week’s BCS standings, and are now the ACC’s lone representative in the top 15. They got a scare from Vanderbilt in the first half, though, and it looked as if the defense had reverted back to its midseason form. Paul Johnson's offense looks unstoppable heading into Saturday's home game against Wake Forest.

2. Miami (6-2, 3-2; LW: No. 3): It took until the final minute, but Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes pulled it off in Winston-Salem with a come-from-behind win and regrouped after the loss to Clemson. The Canes can still have a 10- or 11-win season and will be favored in each of their remaining games, but they've got to get some players healthy on defense and cut down on the mistakes.

3. Virginia Tech (5-3, 3-2; LW: No. 2): The Hokies won the award for most surprising loss of the week -- maybe the season -- as they fell at home to a North Carolina team that was looking for its first conference win. The Hokies’ defense, which has been inconsistent all season, couldn’t shut down one of the nation’s worst offenses, but UNC offensive coordinator John Shoop called a great game and had the Tar Heels prepared.

4. Clemson (5-3, 3-2; LW: No. 4): The Tigers followed the script and beat up on unheralded Coastal Carolina, but lost one of their best pass-rushers in the process in Da’Quan Bowers, who sprained his MCL and PCL. Clemson has home-field advantage this week in a key Atlantic Division game against Florida State. The Atlantic Division is Clemson's to lose.

5. Boston College (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 5): The Eagles are bowl eligible and have the bye week to enjoy it and rest up before heading to Virginia. BC fans should be rooting for Florida State this weekend, as Clemson stands in the Eagles’ way of a third straight trip to the ACC title game.

6. Duke (5-3, 3-1; LW: No. 6): The Blue Devils have won three straight conference games for the first time since 1994, they’ve won two conference road games for the first time since 1999, and they’re two wins away from bowl eligibility. They’ve got a tough task this weekend against a confident UNC team that is getting better each day, but the Blue Devils are the ones who control their own destiny in the Coastal Division.

7. Florida State (4-4, 2-3; LW: No. 9): For the second straight week, FSU quarterback Christian Ponder led his team to a win, but this time, he did it with bruised ribs and got a lot of help from receiver Bert Reed and running back Jermaine Thomas. He’ll need more help from his defense, though, on Saturday against Clemson.

8. North Carolina (5-3, 1-3; LW: No. 12): The Tar Heels appeared to have turned the corner offensively against Virginia Tech, and their defense proved it is as good as advertised. The question now is whether they can keep it up against Duke. Like the Blue Devils, UNC needs two more wins to become bowl eligible.

9. Wake Forest (4-5, 2-3; LW: No. 8): The Demon Deacons lost a heartbreaker and let a 17-point lead slip away at home to Miami. Now their starting quarterback, Riley Skinner, is questionable for Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech with a mild concussion. The Deacs will need Skinner healthy for any chance at an upset. I predict he plays.

10. Virginia (3-5, 2-2; LW: No. 7): For the second straight season, the Cavaliers were humbled by Duke, but this loss might have been worse because it happened in Scott Stadium and Coastal Division standings were a factor. Now, Virginia has to rebound with a road trip against Miami, and it appears any chance at a comeback season is now in the rear-view mirror for Al Groh.

11. Maryland (2-6, 1-3; LW: No. 10): The Terps had a bye week, and will travel to NC State on Saturday to face a Wolfpack team capable of scoring lots of points. Maryland needs to win out to get to a bowl game and coach Ralph Friedgen hasn’t given up on that goal, but it’s time to start planning for the future and getting some younger players significant experience.

12. NC State (3-5, 0-4; LW: No. 11): As mentioned above, points aren’t the problem in Raleigh. NC State’s defense is allowing almost 30 points per game, and couldn’t make the necessary stops against Florida State in Saturday’s shootout.

ACC power rankings

August, 10, 2009
8/10/09
10:40
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Summer camp has officially begun in the ACC, and there's a sense of urgency throughout the entire conference as the opening kickoffs are less than a month away. Things have changed since spring ball ended -- Nate Irving's status is questionable, Boston College found a quarterback, and FSU's receivers have been cleared by the law. Here's the latest ACC power ranking:

1. Virginia Tech -- Until somebody unseats them, the Hokies are the team to beat. Virginia Tech's opener against Alabama will determine whether or not it is a legitimate national title contender. There are no excuses for the offense not to improve, and the defense should again reload.

2. Georgia Tech -- Don't forget they were the co-Coastal Division champs a year ago, and return a league-high 19 starters from last year's nine-win season -- including nine on offense. The backfield is the deepest in the conference, and the offensive line should be better, but not even Paul Johnson knows what to expect from his defensive line.

3. Florida State -- One by one, the receivers have started to come back. Felony battery charges against Richard Goodman have been dismissed, Bert Reed should have completed his community service by the end of August, and Rod Owens' DUI case has been closed.

4. NC State -- The Pack is already better than it was a year ago because of its quarterback situation, but this year it needs to start strong instead of making a desperate push at the end. The absence of Irving and the transfer of safety Jimmaul Simmons leaves question marks for the defense.

5. North Carolina -- Until we see how the passing game unfolds with the new receivers, the Tar Heels will have to work their way up the ranking, especially with three positions on the offensive line still unsettled. The defense will be the strength of the team while the offense literally catches up.

6. Miami -- It's simply impossible to ignore the fact the Canes are under the direction of a third defensive coordinator in as many seasons, are learning a new offensive scheme, have a brutal schedule, and are still young. But Jacory Harris has matured as the team leader, and he's surrounded by speed and skill.

7. Clemson -- Yes, the offensive line will be better, but how much better remains to be seen. It's the same group that paved the way for a whopping four yards against Nebraska in the bowl game. The starting quarterback has yet to be named, and the defense will be depended upon to win some games.

8. Wake Forest -- This is my darkhorse candidate in the Atlantic Division (last year it was Maryland). The offense is in place. The defensive line is in place. It's the linebackers and secondary that remain a question mark. You can't go wrong with the winningest quarterback in school history, but replacing those defensive playmakers will take time.

9. Maryland -- They think they're better. They're confident. But if Maryland couldn't do it last year with a senior-laden team or in 2006 when it was one win away, why should anyone outside the program have confidence it can do it with such a young, typically inconsistent team?

10. Boston College -- They found a quarterback. The question is, can he throw? The reports from Chestnut Hill say yes, but Dave Shinskie hasn't done it in a college game yet. Is the 25-year-old minor league pitcher the answer? He's got the supporting cast.

11. Duke -- Coach David Cutcliffe said he won't be satisfied with anything less than a bowl game, and this man means business. He's got one of the best quarterbacks in the league to work with, a dynamic rusher in Re'quan Boyette, and some big-name players on D. But you don't turn around two decades of losing in just two years.

12. Virginia -- The linebackers are gone. The receivers are gone. The leading rusher is gone. The offensive coordinator is gone. This is going to be a big transition year, and a bowl game should be considered a good season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

There is something different about Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder this year -- something his teammates have noticed that wasn't there last season.

 
  Max Lashin/Icon SMI
  Christian Ponder has asserted himself as a leader of Florida State's offense this spring.

Ponder has officially assumed ownership of Florida State's offense and his role as team leader.

"He's like a veteran to us now," said receiver Louis Givens. "We're all looking for him to tell us what to do. He's like coach (Jimbo) Fisher when coach Fisher is not around."

Ponder takes that as a compliment, and his new demeanor has been intentional.

"I've consciously done it," he said. "I've never grown up really vocal, and it kind of showed last season, but as the leader of the offense I have to be more vocal, I have to get on guys who aren't doing the right thing. It's very important for me to do so. I've kind of had to get used to it a little bit. It's not in my nature, but I think I've done a pretty good job and I've taken ownership of this team."

Ponder took advantage of E.J. Manuel's absence this spring, as Manuel injured his finger in the first spring practice and left the majority of reps to Ponder. Now, when the players go through their 7-on-7s three times a week, Ponder is calling his own plays.

"I know basically the whole offense in and out," he said. "I'm telling guys what they need to do, plays they need to run. I'm as comfortable as ever. It's made me more confident in myself. I've gotten to the point as well where I know what coach is going to call."

Receiver Bert Reed called Manuel's injury a blessing in disguise.

"(Ponder) couldn't be fatigued, he had to come practice every day, and he had to concentrate and execute with both rotations," Reed said. "That gave him a lot of reps. He really has a knowledge of the playbook right now. We can go out there, and he calls plays off the top of his head. Somebody might call a play wrong, and he'll correct them. He's matured so much right now. He's matured a lot just from last summer to what I see now.

"The one thing about Ponder, I really feel like now he knows this is his team. He's really stepped up to be a leader, which is something he really wasn't last year, a vocal leader. He's not really a vocal guy, but this year, knowing this is his team, he's stepping up a lot and making sure guys are accountable and doing what they're supposed to do."

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It's only June, but Florida State's wide receivers are working with a sense of urgency and purpose not usually detected until August. They're lifting in the mornings, running in the afternoons, and participating in individual seven-on-sevens. They're catching about 100 balls from the JUGS machine every day.

And most importantly, they're trying to stay on their best behavior.

"It seems like the receivers are trying to get into trouble, and it's not like that," said walk-on Louis Givens, who is expected to be a major contributor this fall. "All of us are good guys, but we get caught in the wrong situation at the wrong time."

Rod Owens was suspended earlier this spring for a DUI charge, and Preston Parker was kicked off the team in February for multiple incidents. Richard Goodman, Bert Reed and Cameron Wade are all facing charges for their involvement in an on-campus fight last season. And to top it all off, Corey Surrency was denied an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA.

After making headlines for all the wrong reasons, this group is intent on cleaning up their image -- starting now.

"Our mentality is to set the right impression," said Reed, who added his priorities this offseason start with being accountable to his teammates and coaches. "That's what our main focus is right now. Coach wouldn't have recruited us if we weren't good guys. We're all good guys. We just made mistakes and we were making mistakes at the wrong time -- back to back to back.

"We're making too many mistakes and hurting our team, obviously. It's hurting us at the same time but it's building up so much it's starting to hurt our team. I really feel like it's got to be dealt with. The athletic department is dealing with things, and we're kind of putting them in a bind right now."

Both Reed and Givens insist, though, that the off-field incidents haven't put the Noles in a bind on it. They point to Jarmon Fortson, Avis Commack and freshman Josh Gehres as players who made significant progress this spring. Tight end Caz Piurowski should also have an increased role in the passing game, and it would help dramatically for FSU to get Taiwan Easterling back from a ruptured Achilles.

"I wouldn't say we really lost a step," said Givens. "All these guys who backed up the guys from last year are here now, and they could have played last year and not missed a step. The spring was really strong."

Plus, the Noles have Reed, whose 23 receptions last year leads all returning receivers, and Givens, who caught two passes for 33 yards against Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Reed has bulked up from 166 to 178 and has made the weight room a priority. He said part of the problem last year was that receivers weren't holding their blocks long enough to spring a big play.

"I've been working hard in the weight room," he said. "I want to block, I want to get in somebody's grill. That's been one of my main goals, if not my main goal, is just to put on some more weight, knowing you're going to take a little bit more pounding being in on every play, and playing outside receiver, I feel like guys can jam you, so I have to be prepared for that."

The receivers have also benefited from the steady progress of quarterback Christian Ponder, who is entering his second season as a starter.

"Ponder is putting it on the money," Reed said. "It doesn't really matter who the receiver is. That's what he's showing us -- it doesn't matter who it is out there running the route, he's going to put it in your chest. It's up to you to catch the ball, and all of us guys can catch the ball. We catch 100 balls a day from the JUGS. We have enough talent to play."

Their talent was never a question. Now they're out to prove discipline isn't one either.

SOS in the ACC

May, 26, 2009
5/26/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Each team is going to need a little bit of help this fall (some more than others). Here's a look at where everyone in the ACC needs the most help heading into summer camp:

BOSTON COLLEGE -- Quarterback. It's easily the biggest question mark in Chestnut Hill, and it will also be one of Frank Spaziani's first major decisions as head coach. Regardless of whom he picks -- Dominique Davis, Codi Boek or Justin Tuggle -- experience will be at a minimum.

CLEMSON -- Wide receivers. Somebody needs to help Jacoby Ford, and Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham are no longer around to do it. Xavier Dye didn't quite have the consistency he'd hoped for this spring. Marquan Jones and Terrence Ashe could also be factors.

DUKE -- Offensive line. The Blue Devils lost three starters there and moved a fourth (Kyle Hill from left guard to left tackle), so it will have an entirely new look. The one player back in his original position is center Bryan Morgan.

FLORIDA STATE -- Receivers. FSU is waiting until the legal process unfolds to determine the length of Rod Owens' suspension, and it's uncertain how quickly Taiwan Easterling will be cleared to play after an injury to his Achilles. Bert Reed, Louis Givens and Jarmon Fortson will be heavily depended upon.

GEORGIA TECH -- Linemen. The Yellow Jackets have to replace three of four starters on the defensive line, and injuries to Cord Howard, Dan Voss and Nick Claytor slowed the progress on the offensive line this spring.

MARYLAND -- Offensive line. The Terps lost three starters and will have four players in new positions. Phil Costa should be the leader of an otherwise inexperienced group.

MIAMI -- Linebacker depth. There were a few position changes, and Colin McCarthy missed the spring. Sean Spence is proven, but depth remains a concern.

NORTH CAROLINA -- Receivers. This group had to be completely rebuilt, as UNC lost players who accounted for 17 of 21 receiving touchdowns last year. Greg Little had a good spring and should be the leader now, and freshman Joshua Adams benefitted from enrolling early.

NC STATE -- Safety. This is coach Tom O'Brien's biggest concern, and the Pack need Javon Walker, who tore his ACL and missed the spring, back and healthy. Clem Johnson played well last year despite being hindered by several injuries. O'Brien is looking for more from Jimmaul Simmons and Justin Byers.

VIRGINIA -- Linebackers. The backups to Antonio Appleby, Jon Copper and Clint Sintim rarely played, as Al Groh wanted to keep his best players on the field. Darren Childs, Steve Greer, Aaron Taliaferro, Cam Johnson, and Darnell Carter will have to grow up quickly.

VIRGINIA TECH -- Kicker. For the third straight year, Frank Beamer is in search of a new kicker, this time to replace Dustin Keys. Matt Waldron was the leading candidate out of the spring, but the competition is wide open.

WAKE FOREST -- Linebackers. Gone are Aaron Curry, Stanley Arnoux and Chantz McClinic. Introducing Gelo Orange. Yes, that's his name. Orange, along with Hunter Haynes, Jonathan Jones and a host of others have some big shoes to fill.

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