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August 28, 2005

An early look at the class of 2005

It's been over six months since Florida State landed the nation's No. 2 recruiting class. The newest Seminoles have now been on campus for a couple months, including going through two-a-day practices. Here is a look at how the newcomers have performed so far, which ones are moving up the depth charts, which ones have exceeded expectations, and which ones will play or redshirt.

Running backs

Russell Ball - It's been pretty quiet for Ball since he arrived on campus last month. The former four-star tailback suffered an ACL tear last year and has been taking it slowly in practice. Ball, who has been limited lately in practice because of an ankle injury, has already indicated his preference to redshirt this season so the coaches are bringing him along slowly.

Matt Dunham - Recently met all the initial academic requirements for incoming freshmen. He is waiting for final approval from the NCAA and should be on campus this week. He plans to start out his college career at running back. With so much depth at that position and with him getting a late start, the odds are good that Dunham will redshirt this season.

Antone Smith - Any question whether Smith was as good as advertised were quickly answered. First, he turned in the second fastest 40-time on the team behind only Kenny O'Neal in the performance tests running a 4.36 electronically. Then on the first day of full pads, last year's Florida Mr. Football busted off a 40-yard touchdown during 11-on-11 drills. He has continued to excel carrying the football in practice. He has also been working extensively on kickoff returns and there's a good chance he will be on the first team unit this season. He has been hampered lately by a minor hamstring and hand injury. There is little or no chance that Smith will redshirt.

Wide receivers

Richard Goodman - Without a doubt, Goodman has been the surprise of the 2005 recruiting class. From the first day he stepped foot on campus it was obvious the St. Thomas Aquinas standout was underrated by recruiting services. He tore up the informal player-run passing drills that took place in July and has continued his eye-opening performances in two-a-days. Barely a day has gone by in practice without the 6-foot, 185-pound wideout turning in at least one big play. Goodman is working his way up the depth chart at flanker and has been running with the second team in the slot position. It is very unlikely he will redshirt.

Rod Owens - Right next to Goodman in terms of exceeding expectations is Owens. He is another three-star Florida wideout that so far appears better than the recruiting experts gave him credit for. He turned in a 4.4 40-time last July in performance testing and has made big catch after big catch in scrimmages and practices. At one point, head coach Bobby Bowden noted that the Jacksonville native was the team's leading receiver in terms of the most catches compared to fewest drops in practice. He has also worked some on the kickoff return team. A redshirt is unlikely.

Fred Rouse - No incoming freshman arrived at Florida State with more fanfare than Fred Rouse. The highly touted wide receiver promised to bring the "funk" back to the Seminole offense at the start of preseason practices. However, through the first week or so, the former prep All-American was barely a blip on the radar screen compared to Goodman and Owens. Over the past week that has changed as he is starting to become comfortable with the system and his name is more frequently appearing in practice reports. Rouse has worked some on both punt and kickoff returns. A redshirt is unlikely.

Tight ends

Charlie Graham - If Rouse had the most fanfare coming into Florida State, Graham probably had the least. The former Madison County tight end was a player the coaches got on late in the recruiting process and he was rated only a two-star recruit by Rivals.com. Despite his late recruitment and low rating, Graham has done far better than expected so far. "Charlie Graham, even though we knew he was going to be a very good player, is a little more well-rounded than we thought," tight ends coach John Lilly said. "He catches the ball better than we thought since he comes from an offense that ran the ball a lot." A redshirt is possible but probably unlikely.

Defensive line

Everette Brown - Like nine members of of FSU's 2005 recruiting class, Brown was considered one of the top 100 prospects in the nation (Rivals100). And like most of the class, he appears to be as good as advertised. Within the last couple scrimmages, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end has made his presence felt with a couple sacks and even blocked a field in a kicking scrimmage. With as well as Brown has played and with as much as defensive ends coach Jody Allen likes to rotate his players, a redshirt seems unlikely.

Letroy Guion - Despite earning first team all-state honors two years running, Guion was a relative unknown in recruiting circles because everybody assumed he would be going to junior college. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive tackle came on like gangbusters in the classroom his final year and combined with a good SAT score, allowed him to qualify late. Florida State, who had been keeping a close eye on him, was all over the Bradford High School standout and added him to the 2005 class. He has done extremely well in practices when healthy but has been bothered lately by a nagging ankle sprain. With so little depth on the interior of the defensive line, there is no way Guion will redshirt absent an injury keeping him off the field.

Anthony Kelly - Unlike the rest of the class, Kelly arrived at FSU via the junior college route and enrolled last January. He originally signed with FSU in 2003 but failed to meet freshmen eligibility requirements and earned his AA degree at Jones Community College in Mississippi. The half brother of Seminole quarterback Xavier Lee played both linebacker and defensive end at Jones but appears to have settled in at defensive end at FSU. He was starting to get increased reps in practice and drew some praise from the defensive coaches but has missed nearly two weeks of practice now with a groin injury. A redshirt is unlikely absent injury.

Neefy Moffett - As with Kelly, Moffett has bounced back and forth between linebacker and defensive end throughout his career. Interestingly, he played his sophomore and junior seasons at Palm Bay at defensive end where he racked up 43 total sacks, but moved to linebacker in his senior season. He started out his first few days at FSU as a linebacker but was quickly moved to defensive end. He recorded a sack in a recent scrimmage and will add much needed depth to the position. If the defensive end unit remains relatively healthy, Moffett might be a candidate to redshirt but there is a decent chance he will play some.

Kendrick Stewart - With Callahan Bright getting all the hype, Stewart didn't come in with as many expectations but so for he looks like he will be a good one. Unlike fellow freshman DT Letroy Guion, Stewart is a bit on the small size at around 270 pounds to play much in year one. However, with the lack of depth at defensive tackle is likely that he will play some this season.

Linebackers

Geno Hayes - Any doubt that Hayes wasn't as good as he was cracked up to be by recruiting services quickly disappeared when the pads come on a couple weeks ago. Despite weighing only around 210 pounds, the Madison County linebacker showed off his amazing quickness and bone-crushing hitting from day one. He even turned in a big tackle for loss with the scout team against the first team offense in last Friday's scrimmage. Linebackers coach Kevin Steele is thrilled with Hayes' progress so far and he has earned a spot with the first team on special teams coverage.

Derek Nicholson - As with Hayes, is looks like Nicholson will live up to the accolades he had coming out of Mt. Tabor High School in Winston Salem, NC. He looks every bit as good as his older brother and may a little further along at this stage in his career. With all the depth, he probably won't play much at linebacker this season but is currently on the first team unit on special teams coverage.

Defensive backs

Michael Ray Garvin - When the New Jersey native showed up on campus he blew away everybody away with his body builder physique. Not only is he built like a senior that spent the last four years in FSU's weight room, he also showed off his speed running 4.37-second 40-time in July - the third best on the team. So far, Garvin is holding his own in practice, but with the demands Mickey Andrews places on his defensive backs, it might be difficult for him to see the field much this season. He is with the second team unit on special teams so a redshirt is possible.

Korey Mangum - He doesn't have the speed of Garvin or the size of Robinson, but so far has seen more time on the field in scrimmages than the other two more highly rated cornerbacks. He worked hard over the summer in passing drills and in workouts and it appears to be paying off. Whether or not he will see the field this season either in the secondary or on special teams remains to be seen.

Jamie Robinson - With his 6-foot-2 frame, Robinson might have the most upside of any of the defensive backs that signed with the 2005 class. With Cromartie's injury, the defensive coaches have been giving most of the time in scrimmages and practices to the first and second cornerbacks. As such, last year's top rated recruit from South Carolina hasn't seen the field much. As with the other cornerbacks, he has worked some on special teams but whether or not he will redshirt this season is uncertain.

Clarence Ward - Within the past week, Ward has suddenly come to life recording a couple interceptions in scrimmage play. As was the case last year at Pensacola High School and in the Cali-Florida All-Star game, Ward has shown in practice that he has a good nose for the football. What might prevent him from playing this season is that he is firmly entrenched at No. 4 on the depth chart at free safety behind Pat Watkins, Roger Williams and Kenny Ingram.

Kickers

Graham Gano - The former USA Today All-American has certainly had a chance to make a run at the field goal kicking job. But based on the last scrimmage, he could be falling behind Gary Cismesia and Chase Goggans for that position. Even so, with as much as the kickers have gone back and forth, there is still plenty of time for him to rise to the top of the depth chart. Even if he doesn't win the field goal kicking job, he has a great chance to be the guy handling kickoffs. Of the three kickers, he probably has the strongest leg and that's what counts on kickoffs.

Failed to qualify

Callahan Bright - If there was one player from the 'Noles' 2005 class that had a great opportunity to see the field from day one it was Bright. With his monstrous physical ability and lack of depth on the interior of the defensive line, he would have definitely worked into the rotation this season. Instead, he will show off his enormous ability at Hargrave Military Academy. He has several times reaffirmed his commitment to FSU and if all goes well he will be on campus in the spring.

Matt Hardrick - Like Bright, the Orlando Edgewater standout is at Hargrave working on getting qualified. He hopes to have his academics taken care of in time to enroll in January.

Justin Mincey - The Rivals100 member will line up next to Bright on the Hargrave defensive line. The 6-foot-5 defensive end has bulked up to 275 pounds but says his speed (4.65) has remained unchanged. Along with Bright and Hardrick, he hopes to be able to enroll at FSU in January.

Dan Foster - The four-star linebacker is off to junior college.

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