Rating the Room: Evaluating FSU's wide receivers entering the summer
With the spring semester having come to a close and the Florida State football team preparing for the start of summer workouts, it's time to take stock of each position on the Seminoles' offense and defense.
What are the position strengths and weaknesses? How is the depth? Is additional help needed through the transfer portal?
Projected Depth Chart
With West Virginia transfer Winston Wright's prognosis still unknown, it's difficult to predict exactly who figures to be the starting trio of wideouts for the Seminoles to start the season. But for now, we're going to assume the veteran receiver, who was injured in a March car accident, won't be ready for the Duquesne and LSU games and go from there.
With that in mind, there still are two transfers who figure to get plenty of playing time this season in Mycah Pittman and Johnny Wilson, as well as some returning receivers who are essentially staring down make-or-break years for their careers at FSU.
The Top Three: Mycah Pittman, Ontaria Wilson, Johnny Wilson
Pittman was the star of the spring and should give the Seminoles a legitimate playmaker out wide — someone who can turn a seven-yard completion into a 50-yard big play. And someone, as he proved in the spring game, who has a knack for making the tough catch and getting the tough yards.
Ontaria “Pokey” Wilson is the most experienced returning receiver for the Seminoles, and he is coming off a nice finish to the 2021 regular season. The senior had nine catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns the last three weeks of the season and remains one of the fastest players on the roster.
As for the other Wilson? He has the frame at 6-foot-7 to be a giant weapon in the red zone and on third downs. And during the spring, he made a number of contested catches on balls down the sideline or in the end zone. He also dropped his fair share — like he did in the spring game. If Wilson can clean that up, he should be a vital playmaker for the Seminoles.
The Next Three: Ja'Khi Douglas, Malik McClain, Kentron Poitier
Douglas was one of the early stars of spring practice and has proven he can make big plays in the FSU offense. He only caught 14 passes last season but averaged over 18 yards per catch, including a long TD vs. Notre Dame and a huge catch on the final drive against Miami. With his speed and quickness, he might develop into a matchup nightmare out of the slot for the Seminoles.
McClain might have the highest ceiling of anyone on the depth chart, but he's still just heading into his second year of college football and has a whole lot left to prove. He caught 16 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman, flashing his potential occasionally, but he didn't seem to take a giant leap this spring. After starting nine games as a freshman, McClain likely will have to have a big preseason camp to stay in that starting lineup.
Poitier had a really strong finish to spring practice and might have even edged ahead of fellow sophomores McClain and Darion Williamson on the depth chart. He caught just four passes for 22 yards last season but really did seem to raise his level of play as spring practice went on. He appeared to become a legitimate threat downfield, as he continued to polish his route-running.
Fighting to make the rotation: Keyshawn Helton, Darion Williamson, Joshua Burrell, Deuce Spann
Helton has the most experience -- by a wide margin -- out of this bunch, but he has just 33 catches over the last two years and has produced very few explosive plays. He'll be competing, it would seem, with Douglas and Pittman for playing time in the slot. So it might be difficult for him to get on the field if those other two play well.
Williamson had a better spring than Burrell, but both seems like they had some serious ground to make up to contend for a lot of playing time this fall. Spann made the transition from quarterback to receiver last year at Illinois, and while he possesses great size and speed, his best days at that position are likely down the road.
Outlook for 2022
It won't be as bad as 2021!
The Seminoles had about as pedestrian a wide receiver group last season as any Power 5 team in the country. Very few big plays. No true No. 1. Highly inconsistent.
The additions of Pittman and Johnny Wilson -- and perhaps Wright if he's healthy at some point -- should pay off nicely for the Seminoles. And guys like Poitier, Williamson and Douglas did seem to raise their level of play this spring to compete with the incoming transfers.
It's still not a great group. It might not even be good by ACC standards. But it will be better than it was a season ago. And it will be the best group Jordan Travis has ever thrown to, so that should help the junior quarterback in his development.
Needs this offseason
With Wright's status still uncertain, the Seminoles might be wise to pick up another wide receiver through the transfer portal. But if they feel confident in his return, they could stand pat and use any additional scholarships for other positions. There also is hope that 2021 four-star signee Destyn Hill could enroll this summer or fall, but that is still to be determined.
Grade entering the summer
C -- Average in the ACC
This grade likely would be a B if Wright was healthy, because he was going to give the Seminoles an experienced, veteran threat in the middle of the field. And he was someone who had proven he could play at a high level in the Power 5. Nobody else on this roster has. Not yet anyway.
But Pittman has a chance. Johnny Wilson has a chance. Maybe even Ontaria Wilson builds on the end of last season, and one of the sophomores -- Douglas, McClain or Poitier -- becomes a consistent threat as well. Then, all of the sudden, FSU goes from having one of the worst receiving corps in the ACC to having some actual weapons for Travis to get the ball to.
And if Wright does indeed return to become a factor this fall, that would be a game-changer.