Our series continues today with the Seminoles, who face the same storyline that they seem to face heading into every season: Are they back?
For a complete recap of the series, click here.
Florida State: LT Cameron Erving
2011 stats: The 6-foot-5, 304-pound Erving played in every game last season as a redshirt freshman … and recorded 20 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack as a defensive tackle.
What he means to the Seminoles: So how is a player who is stepping into a new position the most important on a squad with the talent to contend for a conference crown? Simple: To compete, FSU needs to protect EJ Manuel, and it needs a consistent ground game. The Seminoles were the nation's No. 104 rushing offense last season. Manuel, for one, carried the ball just 10 fewer times than leading running back Devonta Freeman, who was banged up this spring. FSU should be deeper in the backfield, with Chris Thompson, James Wilder and Mario Pender seeing more action this spring. And with FSU's returning talent among its receivers, Manuel will need the opportunity to make more plays with his arm. Which brings us to Erving, who is replacing left tackle Zebrie Sanders, a likely draft pick this weekend. Sanders was the only non-freshman starter on the line at the end of last season, and growing pains still have to be expected among the young unit in 2012. Erving is the newest of the bunch, and he is playing the most important position. And a smooth transition there could go a long way in helping FSU protect Manuel, improve its ground game and compete for an ACC crown this coming season.