Newcomers step in at FSU Garnet and Gold Spring Football Game – Orlando Sentinel
When Mike Norvell greeted reporters at the start of spring football camp last month, the Florida State coach spoke of the excitement of integrating a full roster of experienced starters and 23 newcomers – the more in the country.
With a mix of high school prospects and 10 transfers, many first-time Seminoles were expected to contribute quickly. Some of that talent was on display at Saturday’s Garnet and Gold spring game in front of a reported crowd of 30,184 at Doak Campbell Stadium.
A trio of transfers made first impressions, including point carrier Jared Verse (Albany), running back Trey Benson (Oregon) and receiver Mycah Pittman (Oregon).
“Transfers and the high school guys that have come in, that’s the key to recruiting,” Norvell said, “how the guys come in and have a positive impact. We’ve done a great job in the assessment part and now it’s is continuous growth and development.
The offense failed to get started in the first quarter, settling for a 31-yard field goal from Ryan Fitzgerald in the first quarter. Quarterback Jordan Travis sparked the offense with a 25-yard run midway through the second quarter that set up the first touchdown: a 1-yard run by the redshirted sophomore running back Lawrance Toafili.
Toafili finished with 9 carries for 43 yards while Benson had 7 carries for 77 yards, including a 22-yard rush.
Travis threw the ball to Pittman two practices later, who rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to push the offense up to 17-0. Pittman finished with 4 catches for 25 yards with a rush for the touchdown.
“He’s a tough football player,” Norvell said of Pittman. “He does whatever he wants these days and plays hard. Whether he has the ball in his hands or not, he will try to bring that physical presence.”
“That’s something I couldn’t show in Oregon,” Pittman said of his physique. “I’m a guy who doesn’t shy away from contact.”
Redshirt junior running back DJ Williams found the end zone on a 10-yard run that pushed the lead to 24-0 at halftime.
Travis, who enters the upcoming season as a starter, completed 7 of 13 passes for 71 yards. The redshirt junior also made 8 carries for 17 yards.
“We came to work every day and everyone got better,” Travis said of that spring. “That’s the most important thing, it’s just guys coming to work every day. Our goal was to improve, and we did that this spring and we have to keep improving.
Tate Rodemaker is expected to back Travis this season. He completed 5 of 11 attempts for 64 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kentron Poitier. Freshman AJ Duffy was 1 of 8 for 4 yards with 5 carries for a yard.
The defense finished with 7 sacks and 9 tackles for loss as the quarterbacks were not allowed to be tackled. Malakai Menzer and Verse led the way with 2 sacks each while Quashan Fuller, Shyheim Brown and Malcolm Ray had one each.
Verse, who recorded 2 sacks and a blocked field goal, is among those expected to fill the void created by the departures of rushers Jermaine Johnson II and Keir Thomas.
“You see the flash playing; you see the explosiveness. But one thing people need to remember is how new and young Jared is,” Norvell said. “It’s a continuous work in progress for his potential, but when you see the effort, you see the physique and the ability he brings, it’s exciting.”
Cornerbacks Sam McCall (5 tackles, pass breakup) and Azareye’h Thomas (2 tackles, pass breakup) were the real freshmen to stand out. The pair were among the top high school prospects signed by the Seminoles as part of their 2022 recruiting class.
The format for Saturday’s game was offense versus defense, with the second half featuring four guest coaches: former FSU players Peter Boulware, Danny Kanell, EJ Manuel and Bryant McFadden.