By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As spring football inches closer, Seminoles.com’s position-by-position preview of the 2015 Florida State football team continues with a look at the offensive line.
Coach: Rick Trickett (Glenville ’72, ninth season at Florida State)
Who’s in: Ryan Hoefeld (6-3, 290; RS SO), Alec Eberle (6-5, 282; RS FR), Chad Mavety (6-5, 315; RS JR), Corey Martinez (6-5, 290; RS FR), Brock Ruble (6-8, 324; RS FR), Kareem Are (6-6, 325; RS JR), Derrick Kelly (6-5, 310; RS FR), Roderick Johnson (6-7, 330; SO), Wilson Bell (6-4, 309; RS FR)
Who’s out: OC Austin Barron (Five starts in 2014), RG Tre’ Jackson (Unanimous All-American), LG Josue Matias (Second-team All-ACC), RT Bobby Hart (Third-team All-ACC), LT/OC Cameron Erving (First-team All-American, Jacobs Blocking Trophy), OG Ruben Carter (transferred to Toledo)
See ya this summer: Abdul Bello (6-5, 298; FR), Ethan Frith (6-7, 300; FR), Cole Minshew (6-4, 305; FR), David Robbins (6-5, 305; FR)
The buzz: In just a few short months, Roderick Johnson has gone from fresh-faced rookie to lone veteran.
When he entered FSU’s lineup at Miami in mid-November last year, Johnson had FSU’s experience-rich quartet of seniors ready and waiting to help show him the ropes.
Now, Johnson bears the responsibility of helping four new starters – whoever they may be – get used to life on the line.
It will be a big job. FSU's starting five last year finished with 169 combined career starts, and only five of those belonged to the newcomer Johnson. And playing in so many down-to-the-wire contests, while thrilling, meant that the starters often played a full four quarters and didn't allow the reserves much opportunity to get on the field.
Still, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher hinted recently that Johnson is already holding up his end of the bargain.
“Big Rod, he acts like he’s been here 10 years with the way he works,” Fisher said. “He’s a veteran already.”
Exactly who Johnson sees when he looks to his right this season may be largely determined over the next few weeks in spring camp.
But a look at last year’s practice rotation could offer a few hints.
Chad Mavety, a former JUCO transfer, took most of the reps behind Hart at right tackle and seems to be the heir apparent there. And Kareem Are, another JUCO product, has been groomed to take over for Matias at left guard.
Wilson Bell, a third-year sophomore who won co-offensive scout team player of the year honors as a freshman, has cross-trained at guard and tackle but could have the inside track at right guard. Corey Martinez might be an option there, too.
That leaves the center position, where Ryan Hoefeld has the most experience but ought to face competition from Alec Eberle and Martinez, among others.
Regardless of who fills out the starting five, FSU’s line will bear a heavy responsibility this season.
The Seminoles are set to break in a new starting quarterback, new receivers and a new tight end, meaning that the line will have to steady the offense while the skill positions find their way.
Run blocking will be of particular importance, as FSU figures to heavily feature its running game and star back Dalvin Cook, especially early in the season.
Number of note: 4.84. In the nine games before Roderick Johnson took over at left tackle, Florida State averaged 4.03 yards per rush. In the five games that followed, that number climbed to 4.84.