Freshman Forecast: Part II
DE Mario Edwards (US Presswire)
DE Mario Edwards (US Presswire)
Editor-in-Chief
Posted Jul 10, 2012


All this week, NoleDigest.com takes a look at the incoming freshmen for Florida State and predicts what to expect from each member of the class of 2012. Today, can Casher and Edwards play now?

Chris Casher

The Skinny: A 6-4, 240-pound defensive end via Mobile (AL) Faith Academy, Casher didn't get a chance to play football his senior season due to some questions about his eligibility when he tried to transfer from one program to another, so he spent the year carving his body out of granite instead.

The Competition: While Florida State might have the best three-headed monster at the D-end position in all of college football, there isn't much solidified on the depth chart behind Brandon Jenkins, Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine. It's not out of the question to think Casher can overtake redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry as the primary backup to Jenkins on the right side.

The Projection: Not even the most celebrated signee at his position in this recruiting class, a lot of fans are letting Casher slip below their radar because he hasn't played actual football since his 2010 junior campaign. Nevertheless, he managed to hold on to his status as a five-star stud and is already in incredible shape for a kid straight out of high school. The Seminoles would be foolish to take Jenkins off the field too often since he's an All-American candidate, but Casher could very well rack up a handful of sacks with the second unit.

Ronald Darby

The Skinny: A 5-11, 175-pound cornerback coming from Oxon Hill (MD) Potomac High School, Darby is one of the most dynamic freshman DBs in the country this year and will also run track next to fellow speedster Marvin Bracy.

The Competition: Much like the defensive end position, FSU is awfully talented and quite experienced in the starting lineup at corner but somewhat unsure when it comes to the second and third string. Nobody is going to challenge incumbents Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes for a starting spot, but presently the leading candidate to line up at nickel in five-defensive back formations is actually a safety: Tyler Hunter.

The Projection: Nick Waisome played sparingly as a freshman and Keelin Smith redshirted, so both of them should expect to be pushed hard by Darby relatively soon. Even if Darby may not be needed to contribute as a return man since the 'Noles have a laundry list of potential game breakers there, special teams coach Eddie Gran can certainly take advantage of Darby's wheels. Look for him to work himself on to the coverage units and perhaps see more time in the defensive backfield as the season progresses along.

Mario Edwards

The Skinny: A 6-4, 291-pound defensive end out of Denton (TX) Ryan High School, Edwards is a second-generation Seminole and was the No. 1 high school player in the nation according to more than a few recruiting experts.

The Competition: Just like Casher, Edwards is in the mix to get snaps behind the NFL-bound triumvirate of Jenkins, Werner and Carradine -- Jenkins and Carradine are seniors, while Werner is sure to enter the draft this coming April as a junior. Edwards makes more sense on the left side, where his breath-taking combination of size and speed will be right in the face of enemy signal callers.

The Projection: Most 291-pound high school ends can plan to switch to tackle at the collegiate level, although Edwards doesn't move like a typical 291-pounder and has somehow maintained the explosiveness of a pass rusher 30 to 40 pounds lighter than he is. And even though Florida State has no shortage of D-tackles on the roster, including Eddie Goldman and Justin Shanks in the class of 2012, Edwards could slide inside on passing downs to give defensive coordinator Mark Stoops yet another weapon at his disposal. The young man's upside is simply difficult to measure at this point and seems to be infinite.

Markuss Eligwe

The Skinny: A 6-2, 215-pound linebacker from Stone Mountain (GA) High School, Eligwe plays the one position where FSU doesn't have a lot of depth right now on the defensive side of the ball.

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The Competition: Four linebackers figure to get the majority of the playing time with the first unit, with Christian Jones on the weak side, converted safety Nick Moody on the strong side and a rotation of Vince Williams and Telvin Smith in the middle. But aside from that quartet, the 'Noles allowed former five-star signee Jeff Luc to transfer to Cincinnati and haven't seen much yet from current reserves like Terrance Smith and Nigel Terrell.

The Projection: If Eligwe turns out to be as good a player as he is a talker on Twitter, then the Garnet and Gold may have a future All-American on their hands. But in the meantime, special teams will most likely be his lone assignment in Year 1. Had Luc given Tallahassee another chance, Eligwe could have been staring a redshirt in the face.


John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.



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