Florida State is coming off a 10-3 season and could begin 2017 ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Still, the Seminoles must replace several offensive players if they expect to play in the College Football Playoff. To make up for losing tailback Dalvin Cook, their top three wide receivers, the left side of the line and their starting fullback, these three players need to be the Florida State’s breakout offensive players in 2017:
* Nyqwan Murray, wide receiver. The junior must be quarterback Deondre Francois’ go-to guy. After offering very little for a year and a half, Murray came on during the second half of the 2016 season. Although he has just two career starts, it’s clear he could be the game-breaker FSU has lacked for the last couple of years. Murray caught the game-winning touchdown against Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Earlier in the game, he had the Seminoles’ longest play of the year: a 92-yard touchdown. He finished his sophomore season with 27 receptions for 441 yards and five touchdowns. With only seven scholarship wide receivers on the roster, FSU needs consistency in the passing game. Murray can help provide that and can be a 1,000-yard receiver with 10 touchdowns.
* Landon Dickerson, offensive line. He continues to battle back from the torn ACL that ended his true freshman season after he started the first six games. At 6-feet-5, 310 pounds, Dickerson is athletic and powerful — and he also plays angry, which has been lacking on the Seminoles’ offensive line. FSU is expected to have more of a run mentality this year as the ‘Noles have struggled the last couple of years in pass protection. With the left side of the line gone, I believe Dickerson as FSU’s best lineman will win the job at left tackle — though this may not be the case at the start of the year because of his injury. This is clearly FSU’s major concern. The offensive line has been the weakness under Jimbo Fisher lately. If the line doesn’t improve, neither will the Seminoles.
* Cam Akers, running back. When was the last time a true freshman back was expected to do this much immediately for the Seminoles? Not Dalvin Cook. Not Warrick Dunn. Lorenzo Booker is the only one who comes to mind, and most of his hype was expected after his freshman year. Akers tore up the Garnet and Gold spring game, rushing 10 times for 87 yards with two receptions for 15 yards, and was clearly the best back on the field. Junior Jacques Patrick will begin the fall No. 1 on the depth chart, but Akers soon will be the featured back. At 5-11, 213, the former quarterback out of Mississippi will get a chance to live up to the billing as the nation’s top-ranked back coming out of high school. Replacing Dalvin Cook will be almost impossible, but Akers has the ability to be a star. I think Akers goes for more than 1,000 yards as a true freshman.
(You can follow Rick Ballou on Twitter @Ballou1010XL)
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