While it was Jameis Winston who took home the Heisman Trophy last season, a significant amount of credit for Winston’s accomplishments rightfully went to his corps of wide receivers, which was among the best in the nation. But as soon as the Florida State Seminoles added the crystal football to their collection of trophies, people started to wonder whether Famous Jameis would be able to duplicate the success of his freshman season.
If Winston manages that task this season, he will have to do it without the benefit of having Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw abusing opposing secondaries. The two combined for 108 catches, 1,944 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns last season. And even with Winston throwing the passes, that is a lot of production to replace in one year.
Fortunately for Winston, his most productive receiver from a year ago, Rashad Greene, is back. Greene caught 76 passes for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns last season and enters 2014 as one of the top receivers in the nation.
After Greene, the rest of the receiving corps is a bit of a mystery, though. The only other receiver returning after recording double-digit receptions last season is Christian Green, who only had 13 catches for 157 yards. Jesus Wilson, Isaiah Jones and Levonte Whitfield have all shown potential but have not yet proven themselves on the field.
Tight end Nick O’Leary is back, and he may become one of Winston’s primary targets this season. O’Leary is certainly capable of filling that role. After Greene, he is the most productive pass catcher returning in 2014, after hauling in 33 receptions for 557 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
But the Seminoles have recruited very well since Jimbo Fisher took over, and it is possible that they could look to one or more of the incoming freshman this season. Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane and Ja’Von Harrison are all elite prospects who could push for playing time this fall.
With Winston, Greene and O’Leary returning (not to mention a veteran offensive line), the ‘Noles will still be able to move the ball through the air better than most this year. And if a couple of the younger receivers step up, Florida State could be nearly unstoppable once again. However, if that doesn’t happen, they could have some difficulty against some of the better defenses they face. Florida State is still the odds-on favorite to win the national championship, but Famous Jameis might find that winning a second Heisman will be much more difficult than winning his first.