Observations from Florida State’s First Padded Spring Practice

For the first time this spring, the Seminoles donned the shoulder pads and padded pants during spring training on Wednesday. It was a slightly rainy afternoon in Tallahassee, so all activities took place inside the Florida State Indoor Training Center.

Usually in football, players can’t wait to hit the pads for the first time after a long break, and yes, the ‘Noles were ready to rock. There was a lot of physicality, vocal leadership and chirping during the competition, everything you love to see from day one with the introduction of pads.

Pretty teased, let’s get to who impressed on Wednesday.

Florida State Veteran Defensive Back Akeem’s Tooth catches a tilted ball from Omarion Cooper for an interception on the first play of the team period. Dent did all of that last fall in practice and it looks like he’s starting to get into a groove this spring.

Coming pads for day one meant I had to go for a walk and watch defensive line coach Odell Haggins and his players drill. Was there a size increase with this unit? Yes. Joshua Farmer immediately stands out. He is the size of a senior. Spending over twenty minutes with this group, I could see the size of one vocal leader at a time. Fabien Lovet and Robert Cooper are. I’ll add, Jarrett Jackson didn’t let the younger guys wander around, there’s no time to waste in this unit.

Two freshmen Sam McCall and Azareye’h Thomas continues to impress the coaching staff. They put themselves in the right position to make plays and cause pass breakups left and right. You don’t see any wide receivers sticking away from them. Yes, they are both learning and growing, but you can tell Mike Norvell is excited for these two to start spring.

Two players have had their best days of the spring so far: defensive back transfers Vance greedy and wide receiver Deuce Spann. Vance walked away with two interceptions on the day in individual drills. If you’re looking for FSU’s cheerful secondary defenseman, this will be the transfer from Louisville. He is vocal and very competitive. Spann, on the other side of the ball, made several plays throughout the day and seems to be getting into a rhythm. It has impressive size and speed. Let’s keep an eye on these two

As mentioned in Monday’s practice observations, Johnny Wilson is a serious threat all over the field so far. Once again he was in a big battle with a defensive back for a disputed ball and Wilson prevailed. Wilson’s size is a problem, but when you add his strength to the equation with speed, he’s a special player to watch. Wilson continues to blink.

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There’s a reason Randy Shannon and Adam Fuller jumped right after UCF transfer linebacker Tatum Bethune when he entered the transfer portal. We got to see firsthand what he brings to the table with pads and hello. Bethune on a run play in team period came to the line with a serious pop on the running back that blew up the play. It’s a brick wall but with big hips that can go east and west in coverage. Welcome to Tallahassee, Bethune.

Two offensive linemen impressed me on Wednesday on defensive line drills and those two were Bless Harris and freshman Richardson girl. Two guys held their own through their workouts for the majority of their reps and got lots of love from the coaching staff.

We can’t miss the explosion of both Treshaun District and the ball carrier JC Campbell. These two have found ways to open up important runs on the field by having the secondary run after them. Ward specifically has a special day taking the ball twice for gains over 50 yards. Of note, Ward seems to have some extra gear for him this spring. Something to watch…

Lastly, I want to give some recognition to the veteran wide receiver Keyshaw Helton. He was all over the court Wednesday, making plays with big payouts. First-year quarterback AJ Duffy threw a beautiful point at Helton over the shoulder and somehow the wide receiver went down with it. You couldn’t have asked for more and it put a big smile on the head coach’s face as he nodded at Duffy and ran over to Helton to give him a high-five.

We’ll be back Friday for FSU’s last practice before spring break. Below is a list of players who have impressed from the first padded practice.

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