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Closer look: Offensive line

In the coming weeks, the Osceola staff will take a look at each Florida State position group. Next up: Offensive Line

2021 stats: Total Offense-377.5 yards per game (83rd in the FBS), Rushing Offense-177.8 yards per game (53rd), Sacks Allowed-36 (tied for 110th), Tackles for Loss Allowed-80 (tied for 93rd)

2022 projected offensive line

Offensive tackles: Robert Scott, Lloyd Willis, Darius Washington, Rod Orr

Offensive guards: Dillan Gibbons, Brady Scott, Zane Herring, Bryson Estes

Centers: Maurice Smith, Thomas Shrader

Newcomers to the Offensive Line for Spring 2022

Guard: Kanaya Charlton (Early Enrollee)

Center: Kayden Lyles (Wisconsin, Committed)

Tackle: Bless Harris (Lamar, Committed)

Newcomers to the Offensive Line for Summer 2022

Signed: Julian Armella, Daughtry Richardson, Qae’shon Sapp, Jaylen Early

Committed: Antavious Woody

Analysis

Departures: Devontay Love-Taylor, Baveon Johnson, Jalen Goss, Ira Henry III

State of the OL room: Improving with more improvement needed and expected.

The new guys: Lyles is being brought in to provide immediate help as a starter and either center or guard. He started 15 games at Wisconsin with eight of those starts coming at center or guard. He arrived at Wisconsin as a four-star defensive tackle prospect, and as a redshirt freshman he started seven games at defensive tackle. His experience should serve FSU’s still very young offensive line well just as Devontay Love-Taylor did the last two seasons. Lyles will be a one-and-done transfer, but his presence will allow some of the younger players at center or guard more time, and in some cases another season, to develop and thus not forcing them into action until they are ready. That’s something we have seen happen over the course of the last two seasons often by necessity.

Harris enrolled at Lamar in 2018 and when you factor in the 2020 Covid season FSU has the option of having him around for two seasons. Like Lyles, Harris is an upperclassman and is likely being brought in to compete for a starting job at one of the tackle spots. He is long and athletic, but it will be interesting to see how he transitions from competition at the FCS level to competition at the Power 5 level. You see some things you like about him when watching his games at Lamar on condensed games on YouTube, but you also see enough to know that there is some work to do once he arrives on campus if the expectation is for him to be a frontline player. At the very least he should provide some quality depth.

Of the five signees from earlier this month, Armella in my opinion has the best opportunity to compete for a spot on the two-deep, although you would like to see him redshirt unless he is definitively one of the top seven or eight offensive linemen. He is the prototype for an offensive tackle in major college football: long, athletic, can bend, great lateral movement and he is extremely physical.

Charlton, Early, Richardson and Sapp would all be better served by a redshirt year.

Woody would be a great addition to the incoming group if Norvell and Atkins land him in February. I would rank him right behind Armella if I were to list the incoming freshman in order of who has the chance to make the earliest impact.

Shopping in the transfer portal: At this point I don’t see Norvell and Atkins taking another offensive lineman in portal as a scholarship player unless he is bona fide starter.

Final thoughts

With only 10 scholarship players expected to return from last year’s team it was important that Norvell and Atkins add immediate help and address the long-term future on the offensive line at the same time and it looks like they have done just that. As much as the offensive line play has improved over the last two seasons there is still much improvement to be made. Pass protection needs to improve drastically when you take into account that often times Jordan Travis was able to maneuver out of trouble when protection did break down. Of course, there is improvement to be made in the traditional (non-quarterback) run game, too. Quality depth also needs to be developed as there was significant drop in the effectiveness of the offensive line when its best five (Scott, Gibbons, Smith, Love-Taylor and Washington) weren’t in the game. And we should continue to see improvement. Eight of the 10 expected returning scholarship players from last season will be redshirt sophomores or redshirt freshman, none of whom have reached their potential yet. That isn’t factoring in returning walk-ons Ben Ostaszewski and Christopher Williams, who are both intriguing prospects who might be considered developmental players.

Closer look series

Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends