This season, the Florida State Seminoles don’t have the usual wide receiver depth that head coach Jimbo Fisher usually like to operate with. That’s the result of three key losses that the Noles endured in the offseason.
First, Greg Dent was suspended from the team after being charged with felony sexual assault. Then, former starter Willie Haulstead was ruled academically ineligible before two a days. Finally, fellow wide out Jarred “Scooter” Haggins was lost for the season after fracturing his kneecap in August. All three players had earned significant playing time at some point during their careers, and were a part of a wide receiving crops thought to have tremendous depth.
Their losses put an inordinate amount of pressure on the Noles’ primary returning targets Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin. All three are off to a fast start in 2013.
Greene has emerged as the star of the group, and, at times, looks like he’s uncoverable. He doesn’t appear like he has great speed, but he never has trouble separating from defenders and making plays in space. He’s scored a touchdown in all four Florida State games this year, including two in a comeback victory last weekend at Boston College.
Shaw leads the team with 370 receiving yards and is on pace to crack the 1000-yard plateau. He’s a reliable weapon on the inside, and does a great job working the middle on seam routes. His willingness to take hits has made him invaluable over the middle. He’s had at least 89 yards receiving in every game, making him a target that Jameis Winston can look to consistently.
Benjamin continues to show flashes of the talent that has been tantalizing Seminoles’ fans since he signed with FSU. Despite being 6-foot-6, he still runs very well on the outside, often getting behind defenders who underestimate his speed. He is a lethal blocker on the edge, springing running backs and receivers for extra yards frequently.
Together, the three have provided Winston with capable targets that defenses have had trouble accounting for.
Depth still remains an issue, but Noles fans have to be pleased with the performances of the triumvirate thus far.
B.L. is an ACC Football writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip or on Google.