One of the biggest questions for Florida State this fall is at receiver, and now Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is dealing with off-the-field issues at a position already lacking depth.
Sophomore receiver Jesus "Bobo" Wilson was charged with third-degree grand motor theft, a felony. University policy dictates Wilson be ineligible to represent Florida State in any game until the charge has been resolved and all reinstatement requirements are met.
Receiver is a position the Seminoles cannot afford to lose any bodies at, especially considering spring practice did not produce a clear-cut No. 2 alongside Rashad Greene. Outside of Greene, no other receiver on the Noles’ roster had more than 13 catches in 2013.
Throughout the spring it appeared Fisher’s patience was growing thin with the receivers as they struggled with bouts of inconsistency. At times the Seminoles coach applauded their effort, but the first-team receivers failed to provide many flashes in the spring game, the first public setting of the 2014 season. Granted, Florida State could have the best secondary in the country, but the depth chart at receiver is still muddled and undefined.
Wilson appeared to be in line for significant playing time this fall, potentially as the slot receiver. At 5-foot-9 and 177 pounds, the Miami native worked mostly with the first team this spring, gaining valuable reps with quarterback Jameis Winston, who no longer has two of his 2013 security blankets.
The Seminoles are still dealing with the losses of Kelvin Benjamin, a first-round pick in May’s draft, and Kenny Shaw. Each had 54 receptions last season, and they combined for 1,944 yards. The numbers will be difficult to reproduce but so will each player’s effect on the passing game. At 6-5 and 235 pounds, Benjamin has rare size and no other receiver on the roster presents the catching radius he possesses. Shaw was often underappreciated for his role as a middle-of-the-field receiver, fighting off defenders and taking linebackers’ and safeties’ best shots in vulnerable positions.
Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary are reliable pass catchers, but the remainder of the receiving corps is not going to instill fear in opposing defenses just yet. Fisher recruited several blue chips at receiver, but none has displayed that ability on the field yet. Wilson might have been closest to doing that.
This could further open the door for four-star freshmen Ja'Von Harrison, Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph. Lane and Rudolph were Under Armour All-Americans, and Fisher said both are physically ready to impact the offense as early as the opener next month.
The suspension only pertains to games, however, meaning Wilson can still work out with the team and run routes with Winston. If the charge is resolved before the opener on Aug. 30, Wilson could play against Oklahoma State, although a suspension from Fisher could still come.
The summer is always a time coaches worry as the season often breeds off-the-field issues. Since Winston’s citation for stealing crab legs in April, the Seminoles have mostly stayed out of the news. There were no rumors of transfers or team unrest, and the program remained out of the police blotter. On top of Wilson adding another question mark to the receivers, it has caused a distraction for a team that was hoping it had put an end to them months ago.