By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With the start of spring football less than a week away, Seminoles.com’s position-by-position look at the 2015 Florida State football team continues with a look at the wide receivers and tight ends.
Receivers coach: Lawrence Dawsey (FSU ’91, ninth season at FSU)
Tight ends coach: Tim Brewster (Illinois ’82, third season at FSU)
Who’s in: Ermon Lane (6-3, 206; SO), Jesus Wilson (5-9, 177; JR), Kermit Whitfield (5-7, 183; JR), Ja’Vonn Harrison (6-2, 197; SO), Travis Rudolph (6-2, 184; SO), Isaiah Jones (6-4, 198; RS SO), George Campbell (6-3, 183; FR), Da’Vante Phillips (6-1, 206; FR), Ryan Izzo (6-6, 236; RS FR), Jeremy Kerr (6-5, 262; RS SO), Mavin Saunders (6-6, 252; RS FR)
Who’s out: Rashad Greene (99 catches, 1,365 yards, 7 TDs in 2014), Christian Green (6-120, 1 TD), Jarred Haggins (1-18), Nick O’Leary (48-618, 6 TDs), Kevin Haplea (2-19)
See ya this summer: Auden Tate (6-4, 215; FR), Nyqwan Murray (5-10, 163; FR), Jalen Wilkerson (6-4, 227; FR)
The buzz: Florida State receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey joked before the Rose Bowl that he was “scared to death” to enter a spring camp without star receiver Rashad Greene.
A few months later, spring is here, Greene is gone and Dawsey is now tasked with piecing together a receiving corps that will be missing one of the most productive players in school history.
It’s a tall order, but Dawsey at least has plenty of options.
Juniors Jesus Wilson and Kermit Whitfield are now FSU’s most experienced receivers. Wilson in particular took big strides as a sophomore, finishing as the team’s third-leading receiver (42-527, 4 TDs) while showing off big-play ability against NC State and Notre Dame.
But it’s the sophomore tandem of Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane that will likely grab the most headlines this spring.
Rudolph (38-555, 4 TDs) had the finest freshman year of any FSU receiver since Greene and visibly improved as the season progressed.
After being held off the stat sheet in the Seminoles’ first three games, Rudolph had at least 40 receiving yards in eight of 11 remaining contests.
Even better, the West Palm Beach native arrived at Fourth Quarter Drills looking like an obvious beneficiary of FSU’s offseason conditioning program and has added some impressive tone to his frame.
“He reminds me a lot of Rashad Greene, actually,” Dawsey said. “When I first went down to see him in West Palm, the way he ran his routes, he was precise in his routes, had good hands, good ball skills. So I kind of knew that he had a chance to be just as good and could come in and help (replace) what we were losing.”
And another sophomore, Ja’Vonn Harrison,is worth keeping an eye on. He didn’t contribute much as a freshman, but Fisher always made a point to include him when discussing FSU’s first-year receivers.
“I think Ja’Vonn Harrison is going to be a heck of a player, too,” he said.
FSU welcomed a pair of early-enrollee receivers in January, although only one, five-star prospect George Campbell, will participate in spring practice.
Fisher confirmed recently that Da’Vante Phillips would be sidelined while recovering from groin surgery.
Campbell, who hails from Tarpon Springs, stands 6-3, 184 pounds and has been clocked at a speedy 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Finally, Isaiah Jones is back in the fold after being ruled academically ineligible last season. At 6-foot-4, Jones is Florida State’s tallest receiver.
Meanwhile, tight ends coach Tim Brewster will preside over what could be one of FSU’s most wide-open races of the offseason.
Not only is second-leading receiver and Mackey Award winner Nick O’Leary gone, but so too is blocking specialist Kevin Haplea.
Of FSU’s three tight ends on the roster, only Ryan Izzo has so much as caught a pass. Still, there is promising talent on the depth chart, and Izzo, Jeremy Kerr and Mavin Saunders all have the physical tools needed to win the job.
Number of note: 32.1. With 1,365 receiving yards, Greene accounted for 32.1 percent of FSU’s total passing yardage in 2014. He also caught seven of the Seminoles’ 26 passing TDs.