Florida State

Better late than never? A few possibilities for Florida State late-bloomers in 2017

Melina Vastola/USA TODAY Sports

Jimbo Fisher has a recent history of finding late-bloomers to help his team. Could it happen again in 2017?

The thought here is the Florida State coach could do just that.

Lamarcus Brutus, Giorgio Newberry and former walk-on Javion Elliot are among players who have surprised recently for the Seminoles late in their careers, and there are several candidates who could fall into that category this season:

*Sophomore wide receiver George Campbell. The most obvious suggestion on this list, Campbell is a former five-star recruit who missed the 2016 season because of a groin injury and surgery. Campbell has a chance to be one of Deondre Francois’ top three targets in 2017 if he can stay healthy.

* Junior wide receiver Da’Vante Phillips. He also wil have a tremendous opportunity with FSU’s top three wide receivers from 2016 gone. Phillips only has five career catches and has battled injuries, but Fisher loves Phillips’ hands and has praised his route running.

* Junior left tackle Ethan Frith. He has the first chance to replace Roderick Johnson, who left a year early for the NFL. It would be a surprise if he won the job because there is plenty of competition, including redshirt freshmen Josh Ball and Jauan Williams.

* Senior safety Ermon Lane. Making the jump midway through last season from wide receiver to safety, the former five-star recruit did some nice things and was very physical in his play. A foot injury cost Lane the Orange Bowl against Michigan, and while he was out of position at times, he showed promise at strong safety.  It will be an intense battle between Lane and Trey Marshall to see who gets the most playing time next to preseason All-American free safety Derwin James.

Finally, there are seniors Keith Bryant and Malique Jackson.

Both are long shots, with Bryant missing all of last season with a foot injury. He will battle to replace DeMarcus Walker at the strong-side defensive end position, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and has been utilized little in his time at Florida State.

As for Jackson, he played in only six games last year and – like Bryant – younger players have moved ahead of him. FSU lost cornerbacks Marquez White to the NFL and will be without starting corner Tarvarus McFadden this spring because of shoulder surgery. Sophomore corners Kyle Meyers, Levonta Taylor and Carlos Becker along with early enrollee five-star Stanford Samuels are all expected to play ahead of him.

RELATED: Good and bad news for Seminoles as 2017 Florida State spring football opens

(You can follow Rick Ballou on Twitter @Ballou1010XL)

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