Photo courtesy of Florida State athletics
Florida State returned to the practice field on Wednesday for its 12th practice of fall camp.
As Florida State prepares for its season opener against Duquesne on Aug. 27, the coaching staff is locating the players on its roster that will be major contributors this season. The pads have started to come on and some surprising contributors have emerged.
Here’s a look at five:
Tate Rodemaker, QB
Much seems to ride on the health of quarterback Jordan Travis in 2022. Throughout fall camp, however, Tate Rodemaker has shown accuracy and an ability to spread the defense out vertically.
The major concern for Rodemaker is that he has not shown much production when he has been thrust into action. During his two-year career with the Seminoles, the Valdosta (Ga.) native has completed 18 of his 31 passes for 137 yards and three interceptions. Given Travis’ health issues, having a capable backup will be vital for FSU.
Deuce Spann, WR
During the offseason, the Seminoles added four wide receivers via the transfer portal. However, Deuce Spann, a native of St. Petersburg (Fla.), had the most to prove after converting from quarterback to wide receiver. During the 2021 season at Illinois, he only had five receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Spann was primarily utilized as a deep threat with the Fighting Illini, averaging 24.8 yards per reception. To put things in perspective, the Seminoles’ wide receivers corps averaged 11.6 yards per reception. Florida State needs receivers who can create separation and Spann is proving capable of doing that.
Julian Armella, T
True freshmen offensive linemen who enroll during the summer usually don’t contribute early on in their careers. Former four-star offensive tackle Julian Armella, son of former FSU nose guard Enzo Armella, is starting to piece everything together.
“I thought Julian Armella as a young freshman tackle performed well,” head coach Mike Norvell told reporters this week. “We mixed him in and got a lot of reps with the 1’s in the scrimmage. There were some freshman moments, but I thought he continued to work. I’m excited about what his progression is going to be. Not being here in the spring put a lot on him. But I thought, all in all, he did some really things.”
The season-ending injury to Kayden Lyles was a huge blow, but Florida State currently has 19 scholarship offensive linemen on its roster. Depth at the position certainly does not seem like an issue anymore. It is encouraging to see the young tackle come into his own this early in his career.
DJ Lundy, LB
As a redshirt freshman in 2021, Lundy recorded 69 tackles — tied for third on the team — five tackles for loss and one sack. He was seen as someone who was productive, but the biggest unknown was his coverage ability. Once listed at 255 pounds, Lundy seemed to be a one-dimensional linebacker who could only come downhill in run support.
However, Lundy continued to work on his craft during the offseason and was able to get down to 232 pounds. Linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Randy Shannon addressed the transformation on Tuesday.
“It has made a difference in him. He felt like he made a difference,” Shannon said. “He’s still strong, still physical but he feels like he can run a lot better to make more plays. We can use him at different positions now.”
Jarrian Jones, CB
It was an inconsistent 2021 season for the Mississippi State transfer, but some of the inconsistencies involved staying healthy. However, fans saw glimpses of what Jarrian Jones could be.
His October performance against North Carolina was noteworthy considering that he had a pivotal interception. With 4:52 left to go in the second quarter, the Tar Heels were trailing by a score of 14-10 and threatening to regain the lead. North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell decided to challenge the redshirt sophomore, but Jones shielded the opposing wide receiver to high-point the football and secure the interception.
After the game, he was given the postgame honors to break the rock. Overall, however, 2021 was a year to forget. During fall camp, the talented defensive back is getting reps at nickel and field cornerback.
“Last year was rough for me,” Jones told reporters last week. “I almost thought about just giving up on this. I couldn’t really do much. I missed like three or four months of football. I couldn’t run, couldn’t sweat. I had screws in my hand. It has been a blessing to be out here and do what I love to do.”