When asked which defensive players stood out to him on Saturday night, the first player coach Mike Norvell mentioned was Travis Jay.
The redshirt freshman is an intriguing name to watch. A native of nearby Madison, Fla., Jay has lined up at free safety.
“He’s a big body that’s super athletic and he’s a physical tackler,” defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said. “He’s kind of what we look for at that position, at free safety. And he has done a nice job. He picks things up pretty well. He’s definitely physical enough and can play the ball well. It is just compounding days on days for him right now in a positive way, so he has made good strides.”
The 6-foot-2, 191-pound Jay took a redshirt last season but appears poised to see playing time this fall. FSU returns two veterans at safety in Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, but Jay could see significant playing time and has the potential to be a nickel cornerback, too.
Jay stood out in Saturday’s closed scrimmage, with Norvell stating he was “Flying sideline-to-sideline, really had a couple of great open-field tackles. Very physical.”
Another defensive back who has stood out in the early part of camp is redshirt freshman Jarvis Brownlee, who has settled in at cornerback. Brownlee played in four games in 2019
“Jarvis has a skillset,” Norvell said. “He can change direction. He’s as quick as anybody in our program. He’s got a good ball skill. He has a good sense of playing corner and just spatial awareness. He is very aggressive, but he is ball-skilled. He’s made the most of his opportunities. He is one to tell you he’s got room for improvement. I think he hasn’t had a lot of playing time to this point, some guys have had more, but just because you played, doesn’t mean that you are ready.”
FSU has nailed down one cornerback spot with Asante Samuel Jr. The other is up for grabs as the Seminoles have a wealth of options like Meiko Dotson, Jarrian Jones, Akeem Dent as well as others.
Working on non-conference opponent
Samford backed out of its game with FSU, which was scheduled for Sept. 19, opting to not play any games in the fall and focus on a spring season in 2021. It’s not clear exactly how many schools are options for FSU, but ideally the game would be in Tallahassee to give fans six home games split into a pair of three-game flex packs. South Florida is one school that does not play on Sept. 19.
“We’re working through the process,” said Norvell, who did not mention any specific school. “We’ve got a couple of options that we’re exploring so we’re going to continue on with that throughout this weekend and, hopefully, we’ll have something that we can establish here within the week.”
Without mentioning any names, Norvell said he has talked with players who are considering whether to opt out or play in 2020. “I’ve had a couple conversations,” Norvell said. “Guys that are thinking through the process with different situations, but we’re going to see how things continue to go. … We’re supporting guys in what they want to do and making sure they’re making the best decisions for themselves in what they want to accomplish as well.”
Fuller said he was on the field for the scrimmage and would be on the field for games. One area where he wants to see improvement is in communication among the assistants. Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham said he prefers to be in the box for games.
When asked about true freshmen, Fuller mentioned nearly every defensive player from the 2020 class. One comment that stood out is with Josh Griffis, who enrolled early and has made an impression. “He is mature enough and strong enough that he’s going to help us,” Fuller said. Griffis arrives at a good time as the Seminoles are looking to build depth behind seniors Joshua Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson.
Norvell said Baylor transfer defensive lineman Deonte Williams had a sack or two on Saturday.
Norvell said he limited activity on special teams but punter Alex Mastromanno “did a remarkable job. Sometimes you get fresh young guys and you see how they respond, and I thought he really showed up at a high level tonight.”