Chat with David Hale
Welcome to NoleNation! On Tuesday, reporter David Hale stops by to chat about the state of Florida State football.
Hale joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering the Philadelphia Phillies for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and the University of Georgia for The Macon Telegraph. Hale has written about college and professional sports since 2004 and currently lives in Tallahassee, Fla.
Send your questions now and join Hale Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET!
David Hale (11:01 AM)
Happy Tuesday, folks. I trust you're coming out of your chocolate bunny coma and getting back into the swing of things, so let's get to some of your burning FSU questions... (Note: For all other questions about burning, you should probably consult a doctor)...
Brad (Fedex) [via mobile]
Have you heard any of the round projections for our pro prospects this year?
David Hale (11:02 AM)
It's tough to say with much certainty on something like this because so many of these mock drafts are all over the place, and aside from our guys here at ESPN, the track records for some of the mock drafters out there isn't exactly stellar. Moreover, it really only takes one team to buy in to turn a 3rd rounder into a 1st rounder -- particularly for a guy like EJ Manuel.
David Hale (11:04 AM)
Having said that, I think FSU will end up with at least 2 first rounders and perhaps as many as 4. I think Werner is a lock, with either Rhodes or Watson likely, too. I've heard Carradine's name included, and if it wasn't for that knee injury, I think there'd be no question. Then Manuel is a wild card because the QB class is so weak this year. All are likely gone by the end of the second round, with a handful of others -- Jenkins, R. Smith, Dawkins, Hopkins, V. Williams, McCloud, Pryor -- likely landing anywhere from 3rd round to undrafted free agent.
Seems like this year the 'Noles are flying under the radar a little. How competitive do you expect them to be nationally?
David Hale (11:08 AM)
Anyone who tells you they know that answer at this point is lying because there are just too many moving pieces. We don't know how well the D will pick up Pruitt's new scheme. We don't know who'll be starting at QB. We don't know how injuries will play out. All those things will be huge. BUT... I'll say that there is simply too much legitimate talent on this team to not contend. Will they be in a BCS bowl again? That's probably setting expectations too high, but I definitely wouldn't rule it out as a possibility.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will be the Starting Defense in College Football & on Special Teams for Florida State in 2013?
David Hale (11:11 AM)
Hmmm... that's a pretty broad question, and particularly on defense, we haven't gotten a true measure of where players are at yet because a handful of projected starters (McAllister, Darby, Waisome) are out with injuries, and the rest are still working to learn this new system. As for special teams, FSU is just beginning to get a look at its returners this week, so that's pretty much up in the air, too. But if you're interested in FSU's new kicker, I've got a story on him at NoleNation today: http://espn.go.com/blog/colleges/fsu/post/_/id/7394/aguayo-ready-to-take-over-as-fsus-kicker
Brad (Fedex) [via mobile]
Who are the early leaders in the position battles? Rt, lb, de, qb?
David Hale (11:12 AM)
Well, the key word there is "early" since there's a lot of time left for things to change and a group of incoming freshmen that could have something to say about a few of these battles too. BUT... since you're asking:
David Hale (11:13 AM)
At LB, Terrence Smith has gotten the bulk of the first-team reps at SAM, but that's a position that will only have a limited role. FSU will likely be playing a LOT of 3-4 and a LOT of nickel and dime sets. My guess is the SAM LB won't be on the field more than about 30% of the time. Also, Matthew Thomas is likely going to be in that mix come summer, too.
David Hale (11:14 AM)
At RT, it's Bobby Hart's job to lose, but it hasn't helped that Austin Barron has missed the past few practices with a lower back injury. The reviews from Fisher on Hart thus far have been tepid, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Fisher isn't interested in heaping praise on a guy who is known for slacking off, so the fact that he's not saying anything particularly damning either is probably a good sign.
David Hale (11:15 AM)
At DE, there's no question Newberry is the front runner along with Mario Edwards Jr., and their cause has been helped mightily by the fact that Chris Casher is still working his way back into shape after missing 2 years of football and Demarcus Walker is still ineligible thanks to the NCAA.
David Hale (11:16 AM)
And at QB, well... I'm guessing we'll get a few more questions on that issue, but from what I've seen, Trickett is still the front-runner and getting the majority of the reps with the No. 1s.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
Any updated on Walker's eligibility status?
David Hale (11:17 AM)
The issue is over an online class Walker took in high school in order to graduate in December so he could enroll early at FSU. The class has been used before by other students, according to Fisher, but there's a hangup this time. Clearly Fisher believed it would be a quick fix but that hasn't panned out, and now I think there's just as good a chance that Walker misses all of spring because of it. It'll get figured out eventually, I'm guessing, but the timing of all this has been really problematic.
Who's been most impressive in practice so far? Anyone primed for a breakout season?
David Hale (11:19 AM)
A few names I'll throw out there: Greg Dent has looked really strong and I think he'll be in that mix with Greene and Shaw as the go-to guys at WR. Willie Haulstead is also leaps and bounds ahead of where he was 6 months ago. I think Christian Jones is going to go out with a bang this year, and Lamarcus Joyner appears to be adapting well to his new job right now. I've also been pretty impressed by Trickett. Not saying he's going to win the job, but I think we may have all undervalued how significant his experience edge is. It really has shown up on the field thus far.
Next years recruiting class with have a big focus on the OL. Trickett has sometimes been a hard sell with recruits, with his new extension how do you think that factors in to the 2014 recruiting class?
David Hale (11:22 AM)
When it comes to Trickett and recruits, so much of it is about personality. Some guys are just not going to mesh with him, and he's not going to be interested in working with some guys. BUT... if Watson goes in the first round of the NFL draft after just 8 months with him and Cam Erving ends up a first-rounder next year after just 2 years on the O line with him, I think that's a pretty good selling point that Trickett's system works, even if recruits don't exactly love the way he does things. Add the fact that there will be obvious playing time available, and I'd be willing to wager FSU still pulls in a solid batch of O linemen. The two biggest factors for most recruits is playing time and whether that school can get them to the NFL.
Brad(Fedex) [via mobile]
Which true frosh will have biggest impact?
David Hale (11:24 AM)
Before this NCAA hold up, I might have gone with Demarcus Walker because there was playing time to be won at DE and he was in school early. Now, I'm not so sure there's an obvious candidate. Ramsey is probably the most talented, but there's too much depth at DB right now. Thomas should get on the field, but SLB is a limited role. Whitfield could factor in at the slot and as a returner, but that's far from established. I guess I'll go with Thomas -- but it's interesting how few obvious opportunities there are for this class right now.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
What do you think the odds are we end up buying our way out of the return trip to Boise? I would love us to play that game and would probably even make the trip out there, but I can't see Jimbo getting excited about playing that game.
David Hale (11:26 AM)
Yeah, I'm with you on this. Would I like to see the game played and enjoy a trip out to Boise? Absolutely. But is it realistic it'll happen? Probably not. The buyout isn't particularly high (and that'll see less in 2020 dollars) and there's very little financial or on-field upside for FSU to make the trip. Add the fact that the conference situation could be completely different by then and it's probably easier to come up with a list of why they won't play than why they will.
FSU seems loaded at RB - what are the expectations of Mario Pender this season?
David Hale (11:28 AM)
Pender has actually looked pretty good running the football at practice. He's really fast and elusive, and that brings obvious parallels to Chris Thompson. But I don't think he'll be stepping into that role exactly. For one, Pender has a long way to go with his blocking. Secondly, while Thompson was the home run threat, he didn't mind taking on a tackler either, and Pender has really been much more of an outside runner so far. He'll get playing time, and there's definitely a niche role for him, but he's got a ways to go to be on similar footing with Freeman/Wilder, and he's about to get more competition when Ryan Green arrives.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
With PJ Williams emerging, Hunter returning, and Joyner moving to CB, how are they going to find enough playing time for all of the quality DBs when Darby and Waisome are healthy?
David Hale (11:31 AM)
It's a good problem to have, I'd say. But I see your point. My guess is that more often than not, Waisome, Darby and Joyner will all be on the field at once. There's a lot of mixing and matching going on, too, so Karlos is going to get some looks at linebacker and nickel, too. I really like the upside of PJ Williams, though I think his future is at safety. He could get a role similar to what Karlos had last year and end up as the starter at Safety (replacing Brooks) in 2014. Hunter's job is the toughest to project because when you start looking at where PJ Williams and Joyner best fit, it's probably taking reps away from Hunter, who isn't even on the field right now thanks to a knee injury. It'll be a balancing act, but I don't think coaches are ever going to complain about having too much talent.
Considering the schedule we have, our team, and other teams......................where do you see FSU at the end of the 2013 year? Bowl projection? Stats? 10 win season? Chik bowl?
David Hale (11:35 AM)
If you start parsing the schedule now, the obvious games that jump out at you are at Clemson and at Florida. I'd also throw the opener at Pitt in there, too, as FSU will be breaking in a new QB in a road game in what figures to be a very hostile environment (probably the biggest home game for Pitt in years). I'd say any other game on the slate, FSU should be favored by at least a TD. So even if you assume they drop all 3 of those games, you're looking at 9-3 and, yes, probably a CFA Bowl bid. I'd probably lean more toward 10-2 with the Clemson game being the swing vote on whether they can win the ACC or not.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
Having covered both teams, could you ever see UGA and FSU set up a home and home series? With the schools being close, each game would surely sell out and you would think Mark Richt would enjoy coming back to Doak to coach against the Noles.
David Hale (11:38 AM)
I absolutely LOVE the matchup, and I think it's something that would get the fan bases at both schools really excited. But will it happen? I think there's a much better chance of a Chick-fil-A kickoff game between the two than a home-and-home. For one, UGA's AD comes from the Florida scheduling school where big-time home-and-homes aren't a top priority. Secondly, FSU already has one major SEC school on its slate every year. Third, I'm not sure Richt or Fisher would be eager to play the road half of that series. Having said that, it makes a ton of sense in terms of fans and recruiting for both schools, and Richt's history and the geographic proximity would make it a really fun non-conf matchup.
If it was up to you, What would be a great non conf game for Fsu in regards fans, $$$, and entertainment?
David Hale (11:41 AM)
Well, UGA would probably be close to the top of my list -- but you could pencil in a number of SEC schools to that mix (LSU for obvious reasons, Bama and Auburn, South Carolina with Spurrier, etc.). If we're looking outside SEC country, I'd probably say Penn State would be interesting for historical purposes and because it would get FSU some good exposure in the Northeast. A West-Coast game would be fun, too -- Arizona, ASU or USC perhaps. That helps to open up some national recruiting avenues, which is something Tim Brewster said he's interested in doing. And, of course, the biggest "non-conf" game that will actually happen is Notre Dame, and I'd expect we'll hear something on that very soon.
How has Kelvin Benjamin looked so far? He showed flashes of greatness last season; is their potential for a breakout year for him?
David Hale (11:45 AM)
When you have the size and speed combo that Benjamin has, every game is a potential breakout. But honestly, I'm a bit more tepid in my enthusiasm than I was before 2012. He certainly hasn't established himself in a starting role during spring practice thus far, and the effort and focus just isn't consistent. I'd say it's as likely that Haulstead jumps ahead of him on the depth chart as it is that Benjamin becomes a full-time starter. But I'm planning to write more on him this week, so keep a look out for that.
Many analysts say we have too many question marks and this will be a rebuilding year because of the QB and Dline situation. The fact that players like Ramsey, Thomas and Walker might see limited time because of the talent above them has to say the are just rebuilding
David Hale (11:48 AM)
Analysts do love question marks, but the thing is, just because there is a question doesn't mean there isn't an answer, and as you pointed out, FSU has plenty of talent to fill all those vacancies. Replacing the departed talent on the D line probably isnt going to happen (how do you replace 3 NFL players?) but I think Pruitt's new scheme really de-emphasizes the front 4 in the pass rush and allows some of that talent at LB and DB to shine. And yes, the QB situation is in flux, and I doubt any of the 3 could replicate EJ's consistency and experience, but the upside for Coker or Winston may be higher than anything FSU got last year. Plus, virtually the entire rest of the offense is back and experienced. Other than Chad Abram at FB, there won't be another offensive starter without starting experience. Not making the case that FSU is better on paper than Clemson to open the year, but I'm definitely not saying they won't be better on the field.
Brad (Fedex) [via mobile]
Is Karlos still in the mix at kr? Or are all return jobs open?
David Hale (11:50 AM)
Yeah, I'd expect Karlos and Joyner to have similar roles to what they had last year. Punt returner is probably the job that's more "open" at this point. I expect Greene to be in the mix again along with Shaw. But of the other logical candidates for return jobs -- Hunter, Darby, Bracy, Whitfield, Green -- none are currently practicing with the team. I suspect that's a situation that won't be settled until well into fall camp.
Sam Singer (Ransom Everglades)
Do you think the miami hurricanes matchup well against the noles this year?
David Hale (11:51 AM)
I think Miami will be better than they were last year, and that's probably the toughest home game of the season for FSU. BUT... I do think FSU is still the better team, and they get the Canes on their home turf. Again, breaking down the schedule game-by-game, I'd prob rank Miami as the 4th toughest game for FSU this year (behind Clemson, Florida and Pitt).
Have to ask...anything new on the Wiggins front?
David Hale (11:53 AM)
I heard some rumblings last week about Kentucky but honestly, I just can't see the rationale for that. Yes, he's the best recruit in the country, but UK already has, what, 5 or 6 of the rest of the top 20? I'm probably leaning toward UNC or Kansas at this point, but I still wouldn't write FSU off.
David Hale (11:53 AM)
Oh, and as for real Wiggins news, check out this dunk: http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/04/02/andrew-wiggins-dunk-contest-mcdonalds-all-american/2044887/
Brad (Fedex) [via mobile]
Thank you for your insight. Which new coach is going to have the biggest impact on the recruiting trail? They are replacing some stellar recruiters.
David Hale (11:55 AM)
They're replacing some great recruiters, but the track record for guys like Sunseri, Brewster and Pruitt is pretty darned impressive, too. I think Pruitt is the perfect salesman for the job -- not just because he understands how to sell to the players, but because he has such a keen insight into high school coaches. Those relationships are often as important as the relationships with the players themselves. I'm not knocking the outgoing coaching staff, but I honestly think FSU might have a better group now. It may take a year for that to really show on the field, but I think Fisher did a really solid job putting this staff together.
David Hale (11:55 AM)
OK, folks, calling it a day. Thanks for all the questions. We'll be chatting again next week -- same time, same place.
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