Chat with David Hale
Welcome to NoleNation! On Tuesday, reporter David Hale stops by to chat about the state of Florida State football.
Hale joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering the Philadelphia Phillies for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and the University of Georgia for The Macon Telegraph. Hale has written about college and professional sports since 2004 and currently lives in Tallahassee, Fla.
Send your questions now and join Hale Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET!
David Hale (11:02 AM)
Hey folks. Hope everyone's week is off to a good start. You've got me for the next 30-45 minutes for any FSU-related questions you might have. Fire away!
Brad (Fedex) [via mobile]
How are things on the Matthew Thomas front?
David Hale (11:04 AM)
Last I've been told, things are still in a bit of a holding pattern. I think Jimbo has the full backing of the school if he chooses to hold Thomas to his LOI, which I believe is what he'll do. The end result, of course, could be that Thomas comes in, plays, decides he likes it here, and the crisis is averted. Or, it could be a disaster. These are the trials and tribulations of the 18-year-old psyche. In the end, FSU isn't going to live or die because of Thomas regardless, but there's a principle here that an LOI (unlike a "commitment") actually has to mean something or the entire process falls apart.
Will FSU be physical enough on the O-line and D-line to compete with Clemson and Florida? Jimbo's teams seem to lack a mean streak.
David Hale (11:07 AM)
Well, I will say that some of the meanest guys from last year's team -- Menelik Watson, Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine -- are gone, and that's a reason for concern. But on pure talent, there's no reason to think Bobby Hart, Mario Edwards Jr., Giorgio Newberry, etc. can't be just as good. It is worth noting though that the guys who left were guys with no questions about work ethic, motivation or ambition. On the other hand, there have certainly been a few questions in those departments surrounding the group stepping in this year. I wouldn't say FSU fans should be worried, but I do think it's something to keep an eye on.
Brad (Fedex) [via mobile]
I met Chris Thompson at the spring game, and he was one of the most genuine athletes I've ever met. I think he has great potential in Washington as long as he stays healthy. Thoughts?
David Hale (11:09 AM)
You'll get no argument from me. I've met a handful of athletes in my career that I've just marveled at their ability to stay positive in the face of adversity, stay humble in the face of success and stay motivated to get better every day, and Chris is definitely near the top of that list. In this business, you try to remain objective, but there are just some people who it's impossible not to root for -- not because of the uniform they wear or the stats they produce but because they're just good people. I think Washington is an ideal fit for CT4, and I definitely hope it works out for him.
Saw Stork On Remington Watch List, Any More Noles On Award Watch List?
David Hale (11:11 AM)
Lamarcus Joyner was added to the Lott watch list this week, but many of those things are still just starting to trickle out. Stork's an interesting case though. Kiper also has him ranked as one of his top 5 NFL prospects at center for the 2014 draft, which just goes to show the big strides he took last year. It also underscores just how key it is for Hart to solidify the job at RT and keep Stork right where he's at. Both FSU and Stork have a much better future if he's playing center.
Word on the street is Walker finally is cleared to play. He missed the spring, but just another talented young and already big body to add to the D-line. Seems to be really good depth this year with a stud in the middle with Jernigan. I see double teams in his future which should allow more space for our LB's and DE's to make big plays.
With The Walker News, How Far Behind Is He Compared To Other DE?
David Hale (11:13 AM)
Indeed, Demarcus Walker has, at long last, been cleared to play. The problem, of course, is that he missed the entirety of spring practice while the NCAA was trying to figure everything out. That's a shame, because I think Walker could've really benefitted from the extra practice time, but I'm not sure it's undermined his hopes for early playing time.
David Hale (11:15 AM)
Yes, there is a good bit of depth on the DL, but most of that is in the middle where there's an impressive mix of established talent (Jernigan, McAllister), veteran players (McDaniel), impressive youth (Goldman), and up-and-comers (NLS, Mitchell).
David Hale (11:16 AM)
at D-end, on the other hand, there are some minor depth concerns. Fans are pencilling in Mario Edwards as an obvious replacement for Carradine/Werner, but that's a lot to ask. And beyond that, there are a bunch of wild cards. Casher hasn't played more than a couple snaps in a game in two full years. Newberry has been consistently inconsistent. Hicks had a nice spring, but he's coming off a serious knee injury and a year spent at tight end.
David Hale (11:17 AM)
I think all of that still leaves the door open for Walker to earn some serious snaps. Being around practice this spring should have helped, but he's still going to need to learn fast this fall.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What True Freshmen College Football Players do you think will be great for Florida State?
David Hale (11:18 AM)
I have a hard time projecting any of FSU's true freshmen for a BIG season this year most because there doesn't appear to be a logical opportunity for any one of them to have a really breakout year. If I had to pick guys that will have the biggest impact though, I'd say there is obviously room for Walker to get a lot of reps, and I think Kermit Whitfield could be special, albeit in more of a niche role (at least in the early going).
Frank (New Orleans)
What will be James Wilder role and what should we expect from him as a junior?
David Hale (11:23 AM)
I've gotten this question a lot, and it sure seems like fans are expecting Wilder to get the lion's share of the backfield duty this year. I'm not sure that will be the case. I do think he'll see a bigger slice of the pie than he did down the stretch last season, but it's still worth remembering that in 5 of FSU's 14 games last year, Wilder had 5 or fewer carries. He only had double-digit carries five times, too -- three of which were in blowout wins over Murray St, Wake and Duke. But there are reasons to be optimistic on Wilder. The other two double-digit carry games were the final two of the year (when he averaged nearly 6 yards per carry), he's established himself as perhaps FSU's best weapon catching passes out of the backfield, he's a strong blocker and he's really embraced a leadership role on offense. All that, to me, should add up to a sizable workload. I don't think it eliminates Freeman from the offense, but I could see something like a 60/40 split on carries, with Wilder getting the majority.
If All Eligible Players Progress, Which Fsu Player Will Be Taken Off The Draft Board First?
David Hale (11:25 AM)
We're talking about in 2014? Right now I think the answer is pretty clearly Jernigan, who has established himself as a legit NFL prospect and already has the resume to warrant early consideration. But I do think that if Cam Erving and/or Christian Jones take the step they're capable of taking in 2013, that either or both of them could vault ahead of Jernigan and potentially be top-15 picks.
David Hale (11:25 AM)
Of course, if we're talking about what player on the current team will be the highest drafted whenever they become eligible, I think most fans would probably put their money on Winston, right?
Eric (Austin, TX)
How many stars is Markell Pack?
David Hale (11:27 AM)
ESPN has him as a four-star guy, No. 23 among receivers. But it's early yet, and reviews can change a lot for a kid that age going into his senior season. He's 6-2 and can play physical and I think FSU sees a good bit of upside. WR isn't an overwhelming area of need, but he fits with what the Noles are looking for and should be a nice get for 2014.
Any Thoughts On Recruits Reactions To Thomas Dilemma?
David Hale (11:29 AM)
FSU recruits are obviously concerned and want Thomas in the fold, but I think the bigger question is what recruits all over the country are going to take away from this situation. It may be overstating it a bit to say that letting Thomas out of his LOI opens up a pandora's box, but it should still be a serious concern for the NCAA. College coaches will look for any wiggle room they can to land a guy, and if it looks like they can still pry a player away even after he signs his LOI, they'll do it. It just sets a really, really bad precedent.
David (Melbourne, fl)
Goldman and Edwards, two very hyped DLmen. I'm interested what you think?
David Hale (11:31 AM)
I really like Goldman. He didn't get a chance to play that much last year, but I'd guess this season he'll see something close to a role similar to what Jernigan has had the last two seasons. He's immensely talented and he's really worked on technique. In fact, here's what Jernigan had to say about him: "Eddie, he's different, man. He's big, strong, he can pretty much do what he wants to at will. When he comes out, he's ready to play, and Eddie can be scary at times."
David Hale (11:33 AM)
With Edwards, I think the real questions are with his mental approach. He came in last year assuming he'd be handed a role because he was so highly recruited. When that didn't happen, he sulked. Then all the injuries occurred and he looked pretty good in limited work, and now he enters 2013 assuming he'll be the starter. He's still got some weight he needs to lose and he still has a lot of refining of technique he needs to learn, and I'm not sure Sunseri and Pruitt are making the same assumptions Edwards is. If he works hard this summer, drops another 10-12 pounds and enters fall camp ready to play, I think he can be a monster. But he needs to understand how much work it will take to turn all his potential into actual results at this level.
Brad (Fedex) [via mobile]
Which underclassmen are poised for a breakout year, in your opinion?
David Hale (11:35 AM)
Hmmm... good question. On offense, I think Cam Erving really takes the next step and develops into a monster at LT. I'm not sure I'd bet on either Kelvin Benjamin or Nick O'Leary -- but I do think one of them will take a big step forward. On defense, I'd probably point to Goldman and Edwards as guys with big upsides, and I'll be very excited to see what Ronald Darby can do with a bigger role in 2013.
How likely is Jameis to start, will Jimbo "coach and criticize the athlete out of him" and how effective can he lead as RS Freshman if Jimbo doesn't hold him back?
David Hale (11:38 AM)
Whew, that's a lot of big questions! Best I can tell you is that I'd be absolutely shocked if Jameis isn't the starter at this point, and I'd also be absolutely shocked if he puts up numbers like what Johnny Manziel did last year. That's no knock on Jameis or Jimbo, but the fact is, the system at FSU isn't set up to create QBs like that. Jimbo will ask Jameis to play within the framework of his offense, just like he's asked everyone from Jamarcus Russell to EJ Manuel to do. Now, can that framework be expanded a bit as Winston gets more comfortable? Sure. But it's worth noting that EJ went on record this week that the Bills offense wasn't nearly as complex as FSU's. It's going to take any QB -- even someone as talented as Winston -- a little while to get comfortable with it.
Steve (Mid West)
Why does Lebron get so upset over a comment by Vogel and make a issue out of nothing. What Vogel said is what any coach should say. I coached for 20 years and I never told my players that because they are the raining champ that they are better than any others. They had things go right at the right time. Lebron needs to check his ego at the door. You can think your the best in the world as you should as all players should. Go out and show it and leave the talking to the media.
David Hale (11:39 AM)
My weekly "not related to FSU or football" question: I'm with you, Steve, but I also doubt Lebron was all that upset by Vogel's comments. It's a manufactured story before a series that takes way too long to get started. Vogel said what he should've said as a coach and Lebron said what he should've said as a player (and MVP and reigning champion). Then us folks in the media blow it up into something it's not.
David Hale (11:40 AM)
OK, that'll do it for today. Thanks so much for all the good questions. We'll do this again next week!