Florida State starts spring practice March 20 and while questions remain how the team will replace EJ Manuel at quarterback and how the defensive line replaces four starters, but perhaps the biggest storyline is March 20 will serve as the first time the revamped coaching staff of Jimbo Fisher is on the field together.
Six new assistants are on Fisher’s staff, but none will be under more scrutiny than new defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt who comes to the Seminoles after serving as the secondary coach from 2010-2012 at Alabama under head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
Pruitt replaces Mark Stoops who left to take the head coaching job at Kentucky and took defensive ends coach, DJ Eliot with him to Lexington. Replacing Eliot as coach of the defensive ends is another Crimson Tide assistant, Sal Sunseri who coached the linebackers from 2009-2011 and was most recently the defensive coordinator at Tennessee. The last defection among the defensive assistants was linebackers coach Greg Hudson who is now the defensive coordinator at Purdue and replaced by Charles Kelly.
The offensive side of the ball was impacted with defections as well when running backs coach and special teams coordinator Eddie Gran was named the offensive coordinator on Tommy Tuberville’s staff at Cincinnati. Quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig took a job at his alma mater Auburn where he will serve as co-offensive coordinator on Gus Malzahn’s staff.
The biggest loss on the offensive coaching staff happened days before signing day when offensive coordinator James Coley took the same job at Miami. Fisher is the play-caller for the Seminoles on game day, so the loss of Coley will really be felt on the recruiting trail where he was an integral part of recruiting South Florida and his defection was a reason why some recruits decommitted or decided to go to other schools on national signing day earlier this month.
Fisher did hire two assistants that have coordinated offenses in the past with the hiring of Billy Napier and Randy Sanders in January, but Napier already left on Thursday to take a job at Alabama as the coaching exodus continued in Tallahassee. Sanders will coach the running backs after serving as Kentucky’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach the last four seasons.
How all of these new faces mesh during spring practice will be essential to earning a return trip to the Discover Orange Bowl.
The Seminoles clearly have the talent to get there, but whether the coaching staff is able to work together and gel will be a storyline that bears watching starting with that first spring practice on March 20th and during the spring game on April 13th.
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