Florida State’s dominance over the rest of the ACC continued earlier this month as the Seminoles brought home the top class in the conference for an eighth straight year, which is every season under head coach Jimbo Fisher. Despite key losses including the program’s all-time leading rusher Dalvin Cook and fellow consensus All-American defensive end DeMarcus Walker, FSU is optimistic heading into 2017.
The Seminoles carried the momentum from a five-game winning streak and Orange Bowl victory to close 2016 over to the recruiting trail. FSU brought in another top-10 class headlined by the National Signing Day addition of defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.
With the departure of Walker and three other players declaring early for the NFL Draft, the Seminoles will have some voids to fill and in some cases, they will rely on newcomers. In this case, “newcomer” refers to incoming freshmen, players who were redshirted as freshmen last season and junior college transfers. Here’s a look at the five newcomers who will make the biggest impact in Tallahassee this season:
Cam Akers, RB, True Freshman
The Mississippi native is one of two five-star running backs and one of three total tailbacks that come to FSU this fall. Akers has incredible burst, great agility and exceptional vision. While Jacques Patrick, a junior, will be the early favorite to replace Cook as the starter, Akers is too good to keep off the field. An early enrollee, expect Akers’ role to grow as the season goes on.
Joshua Kaindoh, DE, True Freshman
Kaindoh is one of four five-star players to be part of Florida State’s 2017 class. Kaindoh (6-6, 250) has a chance to alleviate some of the void left behind by Walker. At his current weight, Kaindoh is probably best suited to play FSU’s “BUCK” position, but as he fills out, he could move to a more traditional defensive end. Like Akers, Kaindoh is an early enrollee and should make an immediate impact.
Baveon Johnson, OL, Redshirt Freshman
After receiving a redshirt last year, coaches really like the way Johnson has worked himself into shape. A former four-star center recruit out of Lakeland, Fla., Johnson could find himself competing with incumbent Alec Eberle at center or Cole Minshew and Derrick Kelly at guard.
Marvin Wilson, DT, True Freshman
The third five-star prospect to make the list, Wilson is another true freshman that should contribute right away. It’s unlikely that Wilson will start, but he should provide meaningful depth up front behind Derrick Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas. Despite his size (6-4, 330), Wilson moves very well and should help the Seminoles both as a run-stuffer and pass rusher.
DJ Matthews, WR, True Freshman
With only five scholarship receivers returning, Matthews could eventually work himself into the lineup for FSU. The Seminoles are losing Travis Rudolph, Jesus Wilson and Kermit Whitfield and Matthews may be the perfect candidate to replace Whitfield in the slot. Another area where Matthews could see time is in the return game. While the Seminoles do return five scholarship players, only Nyqwan Murray and Auden Tate have any real experience at the position.