From the start of preseason camp to now being on the cusp of preparations for Notre Dame, the wide receiver group has made the most of its reps on the practice field. They were necessary for what is mostly a large group of first- and second-year players as well as Kansas grad transfer Andrew Parchment.
“I’ve been excited about some of the stuff that we’ve taken at that position, did a really good job couple days before the scrimmage, came out and responded well, caught the football well,” FSU receivers coach Ron Dugans said after Tuesday’s practice. “Guys are growing up, guys are trying to lead vocally. Guys are trying to lead by example. It’s been really good to see those guys really gel together and hold each other accountable, including myself.”
Dugans credited Keyshawn Helton, who has evolved from a quiet role player to a veteran who is comfortable in speaking up. Helton has had a consistently good spring on the field, too.
Parchment had one of his best days of practice on Tuesday. He made one of if not the best catch he has made in seven-on-seven drills, adjusting to pull in a diving grab. It has taken time to get acclimated to FSU’s system, the tempo and of course the heat and humidity after being years removed from Fort Lauderdale as he played football in the midwest.
“He’s kind of been up and down at times,” Dugans said. “We had a good conversation yesterday. I thought he responded well today. Made some contested catches. Dropped one of them. He’s understanding now how we operate and how we practice here at Florida State, and he’s taking ownership and buying in to that. Not just trying to fit in, in the room, but just coming in there and just being a brother, being that brotherhood that the unit talks about. I’m excited about his progress.”
Williams’ second impression
The first impression of D.J. Williams in the spring was one where he looked a step behind and sluggish. Williams’ weight has fluctuated, playing at 208 pounds at Auburn but the 5-foot-10 tailback jumped to a listed weight of 222 pounds in March. He’s back down below 215 in preseason camp and notices a difference.
“I’ve been able to make more moves than I did when I first came here,” Williams said. “And not get as tired as fast.”
Jashaun Corbin is the likely No. 1 back going into the season as he has enjoyed a consistent camp filled with carries where he breaks through initial contact or at least falls forward to avoid negative rushes. But there is a push among the rest of the group and Norvell has shown in prior years a willingness to rotate three or more runners.
Lawrance Toafili has been the best receiver out of the backfield, while Treshaun Ward has displayed lateral quickness and Deonte Sheffield has quietly put together a good camp, too. What does Williams bring to the table?
“I like contact,” Williams said. “That’s what I do.”
Andrews happy to be home
Linebacker Cortez Andrews entered the transfer portal with no destination in mind. A standout at nearby Godby High, Andrews landed back home in Tallahassee.
“I never thought I was going to be here,” Andrews said. “It was just one of those things. It just ended up happening for me.”
Andrews played in 10 games as a reserve for Maryland over the last two seasons, recording nine tackles. The redshirt sophomore said he is getting more comfortable with FSU’s defense and enjoys being physical, coming downhill as a linebacker. Andrews played in a 4-3 defense at Maryland and said there are some similarities to the scheme FSU employs.
“I love being home with my family,” Andrews said. “And I love this coaching staff.”
The 6-foot-1 Andrews was listed at 217 pounds as a high school safety before enrolling at Maryland. He is listed at 245 pounds by FSU.
A warm, clear day as the team warmed up in the IPF then held the majority of the practices outside before wrapping up indoors. The offense looked crisp in a Jordan Travis-led drive, connecting with Parchment three times, Keyshawn Helton once and mixing in some runs by Corbin and Ward. FSU drove into the red zone but the defense held firm and Ryan Fitzgerald made a short field-goal attempt.
Helton looked good, consistently catching passes in traffic. Tight end Markeston Douglas also had a touchdown grab in traffic. Shyheim Brown had a pass break up. Parker Grothaus and Fitzgerald were good on their field-goal attempts, including one each from 50 yards.
David Johnson is vocal coaching up the running backs. “High and tight,” Johnson said. “Make it a habit. Don’t do it till we get it right. Do it till we can’t get it wrong.”
Observations by Jerry Kutz