Linemen, WRs highlighted as we break into top half of The Warchant Top 40
It's time to look ahead to the 2019 football season with Warchant's annual list of the Top 40 players on the Seminoles' roster - the players we expect to make the biggest impact for FSU in 2019 (Note: This is not necessarily the 40 most talented players, but the players we believe will have the opportunity and capability to make the biggest impact this season.)
As always the list, which was compiled by Warchant's Gene Williams, Ira Schoffel and Corey Clark and ESPN Tallahassee's Jeff Cameron, will be revealed in segments. The third installment today features players No. 16 through No. 20 (No. 20 was a two-way tie.)
* First installment: Players No. 40 through No. 31
* Second installment: Players No. 22 through No. 30
Player No. 20 (tie) -- Junior defensive end Janarius Robinson
Florida State's coaches knew it would take some time for Janarius Robinson to emerge as a starting defensive end at the college level when they signed him three years ago. Despite his extremely impressive size and athletic ability, Robinson was extremely raw from a technique and pass-rushing skills standpoint.
Now, as he enters his redshirt junior season, Robinson should be primed to step into a consistent leadership role ... and the Seminoles certainly need that to happen. With first-round NFL Draft pick Brian Burns preparing for life after college, Robinson is essentially the most experienced defensive end on the Seminoles' roster. The Panama City, Fla., native started eight games last season.
After redshirting in 2016 and playing sparingly in '17, the 6-foot-5, 261-pounder ranked fourth among Florida State's defensive linemen with 27 tackles one year ago. He made three tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including one sack, and he also was credited with four quarterback hurries. His best game likely came against rival Miami, when he was credited with five tackles.
Robinson also received a great deal of praise from coaches and teammates for playing through major personal adversity, as his family's home in the Panhandle was destroyed by Hurricane Michael. Robinson would go on to receive the Courage Award from the Orange Bowl and the Football Writers Association of America.
Voting recap: Gene Williams: 25; Ira Schoffel: 19; Corey Clark: 20; Jeff Cameron: 20.
Player No. 20 (tie) -- Sophomore wide receiver Keyshawn Helton
Though he might have been the least heralded prospect in Florida State's 2018 recruiting class, Helton wasted absolutely no time proving he belonged. The diminutive but speedy -- and tough -- wide receiver made a quick impression in preseason camp and then earned a spot in the Seminoles' regular rotation.
Helton not only appeared in 11 games as a true freshman, but he also recorded one start. He caught 11 passes for 176 yards with one touchdown; he also was a regular on special teams as a kick returner and on coverage units.
With Nyqwan Murray having graduated, Helton will be a prime candidate to become a top weapon for the Seminoles at slot receiver. He also will be a major contributor again on special teams. And as head coach Willie Taggart continues to work toward instilling a winning culture, Helton will be one of the players he points to as an example -- the 5-9, 165-pounder is one of the team's hardest workers and toughest players.
Voting recap: Gene Williams: 22; Ira Schoffel: 23; Corey Clark: 18; Jeff Cameron: 21.
Player No. 19 -- Senior wide receiver Keith Gavin
Perhaps no player on Florida State's roster passes the "eyeball test" more than Gavin. The 6-3, 212-pound receiver has looked like an NFL player since the first day he stepped on campus, but it's likely now or never if he's going to develop into that type of dominant player.
Gavin has probably been more productive than most fans and media give him credit for -- he's caught more than 25 passes each of the past two seasons, despite playing with different quarterbacks, offensive coordinators and receivers coaches each year.
This year will be more of the same in that regard, but if new coordinator Kendal Briles and receivers coach Ron Dugans can unlock Gavin's vast potential -- the senior has elite size and speed -- the Seminoles could have a major offensive weapon on their hands. There are few receivers in the country with Gavin's combination of physical tools.
Voting recap: Gene Williams: 26; Ira Schoffel: 13; Corey Clark: 16; Jeff Cameron: 26.
Player No. 18 -- Junior tight end Tre' McKitty
Much like Gavin, McKitty has all of the physical traits needed to be an elite college tight end. And after posting a solid sophomore season -- his first as a starter -- McKitty should be primed for a breakout season in 2019.
The 6-5, 245-pounder caught 26 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns last season, and while those aren't eye-popping numbers, they were the most for a Florida State tight end since Nick O'Leary's final campaign in 2014. While he still needs to become a more consistent blocker, McKitty showed glimpses of his potential as a pass-catcher in 2018.
Between his physical skills and his intelligence -- he is a member of the All-ACC Academic Team -- McKitty should be able to fit in quickly in Briles' system. He also is extremely charismatic and will be looked at to be a team leader.
Voting recap: Gene Williams: 19; Ira Schoffel: 18; Corey Clark: 17; Jeff Cameron: 22.
Player No. 17 -- Junior offensive guard Mike Arnold
There weren't many positive things to say about Florida State's offensive line in 2018, but the good news is Arnold has more than enough size and strength to play the position. At 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, he has the potential to be a very good college offensive lineman -- Arnold's biggest issues last season seemed to be with understanding his assignments and techniques.
From all indications, FSU's linemen really embraced the teaching of first-year OL coach Randy Clements this spring, and that could be huge for Arnold. While the Seminoles' biggest question marks on the offensive line likely will be at tackle, Arnold should be part of a very solid interior nucleus.
Voting recap: Gene Williams: 18; Ira Schoffel: 20; Corey Clark: 21; Jeff Cameron: 15.
Player No. 16 -- Junior center Baveon Johnson
When he signed with Florida State in 2016, Johnson was said to be the No. 1 center prospect in the country. Now, finally, Florida State fans will get to see if Johnson can live up to that potential in his first season as a starter.
There is no questioning Johnson's physical traits -- he is listed at 6-3 and 307 pounds, and he is an extremely powerful blocker. During his first three seasons on campus, however, Johnson was limited by injuries, conditioning and consistency with his snapping.
This spring, all of those concerns seemed to be distant memories. Johnson is now in the best shape of his career, and he really seems to be flourishing under Clements' guidance. Florida State does have some other options at center if need be, but if Johnson can come anywhere close to the player he was hyped to be coming out of high school, the Seminoles will be in great shape in the middle.
Voting recap: Gene Williams: 17; Ira Schoffel: 14; Corey Clark: 31; Jeff Cameron: 10.