September 27, 2006

Insider Report: The young & the talented

Freshmen sensations (By Gene Williams,

When the initial preseason depth chart was set back in August, only a couple true freshmen were listed as backups. Now, just four games into the season, the 2006 recruiting class is well represented on the depth chart and several are making a major contribution.

With the recent confirmation that offensive lineman Daron Rose played on Saturday, 16 true freshmen have seen the field this season. A good bulk of those 16 have provided more than just a moderate contribution. In fact, at least a half dozen rookies have seen significant action.

"When you sign them you feel like they are going to be able to play and play early but you aren't sure," recruiting coordinator John Lilly said. "I think we felt very good about the class we signed last year, and some guys have had greater opportunities than others, but I think there are a bunch that have done very well, and some that have exceeded expectations at least at this stage."

With the rash of recent injuries and based on how far the freshmen class has progressed, Florida State could field one of the youngest teams ever under Bobby Bowden next Thursday at NC State. Based on the current depth chart, there should be seven starters that are either freshmen or sophomores, with 17 more freshmen/sophomores backing them up in the No. 2 spot, and that doesn't include Marcus Ball who was lost for the season last week with a knee injury.

"I don't think we have ever been younger," Bowden said during the weekly ACC conference call. "A lot of it is because these kids are pretty good. You had a kid like Marcus Ball who we got out of high school up in Georgia that we knew, we thought this kid was something special... So he comes in here and on our third and long team he is a starter and his stats are probably as good as anybody on there and he is a pure freshman. Of course we lose him. We have got more of that type of kid than we have had in the past and we are getting him on the field."

One freshman that has been starting is tight end Brandon Warren. Despite not taking part in the summer workout program, the former five-star recruit has been in the starting lineup since day one and hasn't disappointed. With his 10 receptions for 121 yards, Warren is tied for second on the team in receptions and is on pace to finish the season with over 30 receptions. That would make him the most prolific Seminole tight end since Melvin Pearsall in 1997.

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