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Ward stepping into expanded role in FSU’s backfield

Jashaun Corbin’s decision to enter the NFL draft early has opened up opportunities for Florida State’s tailbacks this spring. Treshaun Ward is FSU’s returning rushing leader and he’s also taking the opportunity to speak up and lead the group.

“It allows me to work on my weaknesses, which is leadership,” Ward said. “Taking the time to be a leader to the young guys and telling them to come on with me, work with me. I’m not really a vocal leader. I lead by example. So doing something that I’m not really comfortable with is going to help me be the leader that I should be or want to be.”

Ward emerged last spring and again in August, a tailback who arrived at FSU as a walk-on but by work ethic and performance on the field showed why he was worthy of a scholarship. And he ran for 515 yards and two touchdowns, a 6.36-yard per carry average that is the highest among the ACC’s returning rushers (with at least four carries per game last fall). 

While his numbers tailed off in November, rushing just 19 times for 75 yards in FSU’s final four games, Ward showed what he can offer in 2021. The 5-foot-10, 189-pound Ward said he has made pass protection and catching passes out of the backfield a focus this spring. The path to playing time at tailback in Mike Norvell’s offense is versatility, and Ward admits he needs to be a better pass-catcher while also learning how to protect the quarterback.

“Leverage, hand placement, just overall how to use my leverage because I’m a smaller guy,” Ward said. “I’m not really as strong. I have to use my leverage and my technique.”

And Ward will likely be part of a running back by committee for FSU in 2022. The Seminoles return Lawrance Toafili, who is a playmaker and exceptional receiver out of the backfield, as well as landed Trey Benson (a transfer from Oregon) and Rodney Hill (a prep standout in Georgia). FSU also has moved Corey Wren from receiver to tailback, and D.J. Williams is in his second year following his transfer from Auburn.

Ward praised a few of his teammates as well as noted the improvement of the offensive line in his interview with the media after Tuesday’s practice.