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From QB to TE, Courtney taking first steps at new position

Florida State landed just a few skill position signees via the high school ranks as part of the 2022 class. Running back Rodney Hill and tight end Brian Courtney have enrolled early for the spring semester, while tight end Jerrale Powers will join the team in the summer.

Courtney has little experience at tight end, having played quarterback in high school. But he’s already gained 10 pounds of muscle through FSU’s offseason strength and conditioning program and is looking forward to hitting again.

“It’s probably my first spring in a while where I’m allowed to hit people,” Courtney said. “I played quarterback in high school. I wasn’t allowed into tackling drills, even though I tried to get in, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Courtney offers a versatile skill set, rushing and throwing for nearly 7,000 offensive yards and 75 touchdowns as a dual-threat quarterback at Ashburn (Va.) Independence High. Some schools looked at him as a quarterback and linebacker, although FSU’s coaches made the pitch that he could be a tight end who could do a little bit of everything.  

“I’m pretty much already lining up everywhere,” Courtney said. “That was part of (tight ends coach Chris) Thomsen’s pitch to me. He would say, ‘You’re a versatile player. You can play anywhere here on the field.’ That was a big part of what I was excited to hear. I didn’t want to just be stuck on (the) line. I wanted to be able to move around and be versatile.”

Courtney joins a crowded group of tight ends, and he will need time to develop footwork and hand placement as a blocker although he feels his athleticism lends himself to being a good route runner. But he is a prospect FSU coaches could help grow over the long haul, an intuitive passer who built a prep career by dissecting defenses and may offer a pass catcher who can also find openings in coverage.

“Quarterbacks are always under a lot of pressure,” Courtney said. “They’re always in the spotlight. So I think I’ll take that experience and apply it to tight end so I’m always ready for any situation. It’ll help me be a better leader, too.”

Multi-sport background shapes Hill’s skill set

Versatile is a word frequently used with Hill, who has lined up at tailback, receiver, defensive back and on special teams. Hill ran for 344 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 9.1 yards per carry, as a senior. He also caught 12 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Hill is excited to show his skill set on the practice field this spring.

“It’ll be good to see,” Hill said. “I’m just trying to learn it all right now, just get used to everything. It’s going to be great when it’s my time.”

Hill could have opportunities after Jashaun Corbin’s departure for the NFL. FSU returns tailbacks Treshaun Ward, Lawrance Toafili and D.J. Williams, and Hill offers the speed and athleticism that could earn him playing time.

“Track helped with speed, basketball (helped with) speed also, hand eye coordination,” Hill said. “They all played a good part into who I am right now.”

Hill played in a smaller, private school classification in Georgia. He’s all too familiar with the criticism of his success being a byproduct of his opponents.

“Everybody is going to have their say about my competition was when I was in high school,” Hill said. “I really didn’t let it get to me. I just keep on going, just do what I have to do, do what the coaches tell me to do and it’s going to show.”