Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Instead of speaking with reporters following an inconsistent performance at practice on Tuesday, Florida State sophomore receiver Jarmon Fortson managed to sneak out without saying a word.
Fifth-year senior Richard Goodman, however, stuck around to address his role as a "second coach" on the field this fall and how his maturity helped him get through some off-field distractions this summer.
It was a visible example of how Goodman has become the leader and voice of a group that's bursting with young, yet immature talent. The problem is, Goodman hasn't played in a game since Oct. 27, 2007. More will be needed of him this season, and so far he's shown the potential to deliver.
"He's the experienced guy that can deal with the highs and lows and keep on pushing," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said.
Goodman was on the verge of being one of the Noles' top receivers in 2007 when he played in eight games and earned the first six starts of his career. He had 20 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns. His success was derailed, though, when he fractured his right fibula in the fourth quarter of Florida State's win over Duke and missed the rest of the season. He hasn't played since. Goodman was suspended for the first two games last year, and then injured his left knee at practice following the third game. From a physical standpoint, he said he's in the best shape he's ever been in.
Goodman met with Fisher after spring practices were over for a personal evaluation, and Fisher asked him what his personal goals were for this season.
"I told him eventually I want to be that guy," Goodman said. "This team is never going to be about me, but when he needs that third-down catch or he needs that block or anything, I want to be his first option. And if I'm not his first option, to always be an option."
Now that the FSU receivers have cleared up their legal issues, there are definitely more receivers to choose from.
Fisher said Rod Owens had to "clean up some legal issues" and didn't come until the end of practice, but now the entire group appears to be officially back. Bert Reed, a redshirt sophomore, is the Noles' second-leading receiver from a year ago with 23 catches. Taiwan Easterling might be the most talented of the group, and he has returned to practice after missing the spring with a torn Achilles, but there are high expectations for Fortson, who made four straight spectacular big-play catches on Tuesday after first catching the wrath of Fisher.
"J-man could be whatever J-man wants to be," said Fisher. "J-man just has to decide if he wants to do it every play -- which he does, I'm not saying he doesn't. But I'm talking about focus. Sometimes you run the route, and, 'am I really focused on what I'm doing?' When he does it, he can do whatever he wants to do. It's not a knock on him, it's something that happens with youth. As he gets more experienced with it, and learns to concentrate, he'll get better. But when he focuses, he's a heck of a football player."
Quarterback Christian Ponder agreed.
"His mind kind of gets to him a little bit," Ponder said. "He gets frustrated sometimes. He just needs to grow a little bit, but he made a lot of great plays at the end. When he's in it, he does well. The kid's a freak. Once he gets over the maturity hump, he'll be good."
How good the receiving corps will be remains to be seen, but Goodman did make one promise.
"In the offseason there was so much that happened to the point where the only way to go is up," Goodman said. " ... We're not guaranteeing any wins, but you can quote me on this when I tell you this: The Florida State receiving corps, the Florida State offense, and the team, period, we're going to play four quarters of football every game."