With the return of Deshaun Watson and so much other talent, many are going to be expecting Clemson to make the playoffs again and possibly win their first national championship since 1981.
But, first they are going to have to win the Atlantic Coast Conference which means beating Florida State.
Since the Florida State Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992, they have been crowned champion 15 times. Clemson also owns 15 ACC championships, but they have only won twice since the arrival of the Seminoles.
Clemson will more than have their hands full when they face Florida State in the 2016 season in Tallahassee, Florida.
Like so many other schools, Florida State probably has a battle ahead to determine the starting Quarterback. Sean Maguire returns from last season, but he was injured in the Seminoles bowl loss to Houston and he had to sit out the Spring.
Maguire was Jameis Winston’s back up in 2014 and then he was beaten out by Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson before the 2015 season got going.
Maguire eventually replaced Golson and started the last 6 games.
But, now, it looks like there is a possibility that Maguire could be on the outside looking in yet again. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher isn’t saying, but it appears as if Deandre Francois may have pulled ahead of Maguire in the Quarterback race. That is just pure speculation, but Francois looked really good in the Spring.
Francois will have to beat out Maguire and he may also have to beat out true freshman Malik Henry from Long Beach Poly. Henry was the 2nd rated Dual Threat Quarterback in the country. The one thing that is exciting about Francois and Henry is the mobility.
Nothing was decided in the Spring and it will continue into the Summer and maybe into the Fall.
There’s no controversy at Running Back where Dalvin Cook is on the short list of the top players in the country.
Last season, Cook ran for 1,691 yards while fighting off hamstring issues. Some people think that Dalvin Cook is the best college back in the country and I wouldn’t spit on them if they shared that with me. He’s that good.
Jacques Patrick will be a hard guy to keep on the sidelines. The 6-2, 235 sophomore is a big back with some serious talent and surprising speed.
Mario Pender has been released from the team, but the Seminoles have plenty of talent at Running Back remaining.
Ryan Green converted from Defensive Back and he looked good in their Spring Game.
Whoever wins the Quarterback battle will love his selection of receivers. Florida State has everybody back.
Travis Rudolph, Jesus ‘Bobo’ Wilson and Kermit Whitfield all caught just under 60 passes a piece last season. Ja’Vonn Harrison, Nyqwan Murray, Ermon Lane and George Campbell are all back as well and it’s time for Campbell and Lane to make a move.
One of the best surprises of the Spring was the emergence of big Wide Receiver Auden Tate. The Seminoles have been looking for that big go to receiver since Kelvin Benjamin left and Tate is 6-5, 220. He looked really impressive in the Spring Game.
Ryan Izzo began to emerge as the main target at Tight End, but then he had a really good Spring. Mavin Saunders and converted Defensive End Chris Casher will back him up.
Redshirt freshman Jalen Wilkerson is huge and he was highly recruited last year. He may outgrow the position since he is nearly 280 pounds already. Jeremy Kerr is predominately a blocking Tight End, but had a huge catch against Florida for a Touchdown last year.
The Seminoles return everybody on the Offensive Line and I mean everybody.
Left Tackle Roderick Johnson is their leader and will be in his third year as the starter at his position. Kareem Are returns at Left Guard and Alec Eberle, Corey Martinez and Ryan Hoefield at Center.
Wilson Bell at Right Guard was underrated and Chad Maverty and Brock Ruble return at Right Tackle. In addition, former Defensive End Rick Leonard moved to Right Tackle and he looked really, really good there.
Also, the Seminoles signed some outstanding Offensive Linemen in their last recruiting class led by the nation’s number one Center prospect, Baveon Johnson.
Landon Dickerson is one of the top Offensive Tackle prospects, and Jauan Williams and Josh Ball are really good as well. Josh Ball, from Fredericksburg, Virginia is 6-8, 325 and he has quick feet for his size.
Tony Boselli’s son, Andrew Boselli, also signed with the Seminoles but expecting him to be like his father is like thinking our next president might be a good one.
The Defense had a few more losses than the Offense with Jalen Ramsey leaving for the NFL and Linebackers Reggie Northrup and Terrance Smith. They also lost Lamarcus Brutus and Nile Lawrence-Stample.
But, there is still a lot of talent returning.
What are the Seminoles without a good Defensive Line? It all starts in the middle and Florida State only returns Derrick Nnadi or they would be rated higher on this list. Demarcus Christmas started one game last season and he may start in 2016.
Walvenski Aime is a Junior College transfer who was impressive in the Spring and he should help out immediately. Alabama wanted Aime badly and that’s saying something.
Frederick Jones and Arthur Williams are sophomores that played as redshirt freshmen a year ago and they could compete for much more playing time in 2016. Keith Bryant, Justin Shanks and Darvin Taylor are also looking for playing time.
The Seminoles also landed highly regarded Defensive Tackles Shavar Manuel and Cedric Wood in their most recent recruiting class.
Defensive End is more established with DeMarcus Walker and Josh Sweat returning. Walker is big and fast and one of the team’s defensive leaders. He had 10.5 sacks a year ago. Sweat was a highly recruited true freshman a year ago that broke into the starting lineup. They are both talents and among the best in the country.
The Defensive Ends took a hit, however, when super talented Lorenzo Featherston was injured and he may never play football again. Another good Defensive End was Rick Leonard who was moved to Offensive Tackle in the Spring and showed so much promise that he could possibly replace a returning starter at Tackle. Potential Breakout Players
But, the Florida State coaches must feel good about their depth because they moved another talented Defensive End to Tight End in Chris Casher.
Janarius Robinson was an early enrollee and an impressive prospect. Josh Brown was another member of the 2016 class that came in early. He could play End or Outside Linebacker. Another freshman on his way is 4 star recruit Brian Burns.
At Inside Linebacker Ro’Derrick Hoskins started a few games last season and came on strong. The Seminoles are still waiting on former 5 star Linebacker recruit Matthew Thomas to fulfill his potential. Sh’Mar Kilby-Lane is a promising player that played mostly special teams as a true freshman.
Marquez White is back at one Cornerback and Tarvarus McFadden is supposed to take over for the departed 1st round pick Jalen Ramsey. What will be interesting to watch here is the arrival of Levonta Taylor and Carlos Becker. Taylor was the top rated recruit in the country last year and Becker was a top 10 guy. Both are outstanding prospects and should play pretty early.
Derwin James at Safety is simply one of the best players in the country. He was the Seminoles second leading tackler a year ago and he returns for his sophomore season. He will be an early draft pick in a couple of years.
Nate Andrews and Trey Marshall also return at Safety and both are experienced.
The Clemson vs Florida State football game in 2016 could be one for the ages. Both of these teams are loaded.
Circle October 29th on your calendar.