August 22, 2012

Insider Report: Devonta Freeman bulks up for 2012

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher couldn't hold back his smile when asked about the efforts of one of his newest players, true freshman cornerback Ronald Darby.

"Darby is doing some good things. He's a good player," Fisher said following Thursday's scrimmage. "For a young guy, the thing I see - if he get's beat, he comes back and he can tell you what he did wrong. That's rare for young guys. He gets it, get's back up and he's (gifted). I think he's going to be a very good one."

Darby, a Washington, D.C.-area product and the No. 2 cornerback in the nation in the Class of 2012, has seen action with the No. 2 defense through the early part of fall camp. And with the dismissal of starting field cornerback Greg Reid, there's even potential for Darby to be one of the only true freshman in a decorated recruiting class to compete for a starting spot this fall. Currently, Nick Waisome is seeing the first-team reps at field corner opposite boundary corner staple Xavier Rhodes.

Fisher said that the position is still open and defensive coordinator Mark Stoops called the battle at field cornerback "wide open" during FSU media day on Sunday.

As for inexperience, it doesn't scare off Fisher. He said he would have no hesitation in starting a true freshman at cornerback.

"Doesn't bother me," Fisher said. "Started a (freshman) free safety at LSU and won the national championship, started two (freshman) tailbacks and won the national championship that year. (Darby) is good enough. How did Clemson like starting Sammy Watkins as their best receiver?

"He can do it, we'll wait and see … no one says he can do it yet and he's got a lot to prove. You've got to play the best players."

Dent "By Far" most impressive WR in camp

Considering his health concerns of the past six months, receiver Greg Dent has been one of the unexpected stars of fall camp. The term 'star', often used flippantly, applies to Dent at this point because of the concentrated praise he's drawn from head coach Jimbo Fisher.

As Fisher told reporters following the Seminoles' first scrimmage, Dent "by far, by far" has been the most impressive figure in what is arguably the team's deepest position.

"I've been extremely pleased with Greg Dent," Fisher said. "And I've been waiting for this because I think Dent's got a ton of ability. A ton of ability."

Although he has won his coach's favor on the field, Dent disagrees with the sentiment that he and the other receivers are in a cutthroat competition for playing time. Instead, he sees the position battle as a group effort.

"It's not about a competition because overall everybody is out there trying to get better," Dent said. "With the receivers being so deep… we enjoy it at the time, we're trying to practice to give Jimbo that confidence to let us play."

In order to earn Fisher's confidence, Dent first fought through a serious injury then a nagging problem. First in summer workouts, Dent says he landed awkwardly on his knee while hurdling, leading to a microscopic surgery to clean out resulting damage. The junior boasted that he recovered in three weeks' time, quicker than any other player the trainers have seen.

Then in the early stages of camp, Fisher said Dent got tangled awkwardly with a defender and landed hard on his elbow. The battle to keep the swelling down means Dent has been wearing a blue non-contact jersey for most of camp.

Despite those two problems, Dent continues to impress and add another dimension to what figures to be a loaded wide receiver corps. More than just talented, Dent says this year's group is closer together than in past seasons.

"Everybody is more confident," he said. "Everybody is speaking up, trying to get everyone to be on one page, because last year I think we were on one page at one point but then we kind of fell off."

Fisher takes pride in Coaches' Poll Vote

During college football season, coaches across the country turn in their USA Today Coaches' poll ballots on Sunday mornings. Many of the coaches never actually take the time to fill the polls out themselves, farming out the responsibilities to graduate assistants or sports information directors.

For the second time in his career, Jimbo Fisher will vote in the coaches' poll this season, and yes it will be Fisher who fills out the ballot.

"I do the voting. I take pride in it," Fisher said. "By God we're talking about a national championships."

Fisher will have FSU football SID Kerwin Lonzo provide him with stats on games that Fisher wouldn't normally have a chance to watch on the East Coast in order to fill out an informed poll.

"I try to get as much information as I can." Fisher said. "I do have Kerwin-on the West Coast-keep up with guys and scores and as much information on games that you wouldn't see, to give me information. But I actually fill the poll out."

Fisher's Seminoles are ranked No. 7 to start the year in both the Coaches' Poll and the Associated Press Poll.

"I love being up there," Fisher said of the ranking. "I think it helps. The higher up you are the easier it is to climb. … I think it's a good thing. Hopefully we'll deal with it very well. I think we will. We've just got to play ball and quit worrying about that. They've got us there and now we've got to take care of our business."

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