Florida State Seminoles
2017 Record: 7-6 (3-5) – Beat Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl
2018 Coaches Poll Top 25 Rank: Not Ranked
It’s a new era of football in Tallahassee.
Jimbo Fisher’s run that included an 83-23 records, three ACC Championships and the 2013 National Championship has moved on to College Station, opening the door for Willie Taggart as the Seminole’s new leader.
While the 2017 season was lackluster, Fisher leaves behind a team full of talent which should preclude a lengthy rebuild. The first thing to sort out for Taggart is the starting quarterback situation where Deondre Francois and James Blackman are both vying for the job. It’s a good problem to have with both young signal callers capable of producing.
The strength of the offense is the running back situation where Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick form the best duo in the ACC. Per usual, the offensive line is a question mark while the receiving corps is potent but unproven.
The defensive line features potential NFL starters Brian Burns and Demarcus Christmas while Levonta Taylor is the best cornerback in the conference. With that said, the rest of the defense is largely unproven with just four returning starters.
The schedule ahead for the Seminoles is challenging with Notre Dame and Florida among the non-conference schedule. The ACC schedule features road games to Miami, Louisville and NC State not to forget a home date with Clemson in late October.
I don’t expect FSU to contend for the ACC Championship or College Football Playoffs as was the norm under Fisher, but an improvement upon last year’s 7-6 mark isn’t out of the picture.
Top 5 Draft-Eligible Prospects
1. EDGE Brian Burns
Burns has a translatable, high variance pass rushing skill set and should be among the ACC leaders in sacks this year. He lacks bulk but is a long, lean and fluid mover with first round upside.
2. CB Levonta Taylor
Taylor is an outstanding man corner with lightning quick feet, fluid hips and strong pattern matching skills. He’s not the biggest corner but his coverage instincts and athletic profile is exciting.
3. DT Demarcus Christmas
Christmas doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher but his ability to dominate at the point of attack is impressive. His anchor is stout and his hands are aggressive.
4. QB Deondre Francois
With improved accuracy and decision-making, Francois has a chance to ascend. His toughness, athletic ability and mental processing skills are impressive given his experience.
Patrick is a big, physical, downhill runner with good vision. While he lacks elusive traits, Patrick is an ideal complementary power back who has an NFL future in that role.
Others to Watch: C Alec Elerbe, OT Derrick Kelly.