Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is proceeding as if former Miami Central star Dalvin Cook will not be around in 2015, which means paying closer attention to the running back depth chart.
Fisher identified two candidates who could see time at tailback in an emergency: starting fullback Freddie Stevenson and receiver Kermit Whitfield.
Redshirt junior Mario Pender will step in for Cook — suspended after being charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly striking a woman outside a bar — with freshman Jacques Patrick in position to claim the backup spot.
But Stevenson, a 6-1, 241-pound junior who started seven games last season, could help ease the burden.
“Freddie looks really good,” Fisher said. “He can run the football, is a big back, much like [James] Wilder and them guys did. There’s different ways you can move them [fullbacks]. Freddie’s a big, powerful guy. He can be a short-yardage, goal-line-type guy.”
Stevenson has nine carries for 33 yards in his career. He also has caught nine passes for 90 yards and has scored one touchdown rushing and one receiving.
Whitfield, a 5-8, 184-pound speedster, is best known for his 100-yard kickoff return in the national championship game against Auburn. But the junior has dropped in the depth chart and enters camp No. 4 at the Z receiver.
Whitfield has six rushes for 150 yards and a TD in two seasons, 110 of those yards coming on three carries in 2013.
One option Fisher is not considering right now is moving Ryan Green back to tailback. Green is listed as a backup corner to Marquez White.
“I was extremely pleased with him in spring,” Fisher said of Green. “I think he has the capability of being a big-time corner. If you look at his skills, he could even be a nickel guy. He could be a field corner, boundary corner. I’m really looking forward to him now really knowing what to do.”
SO FAR, SO GOOD
Fisher continues to praise the “demeanor” and “energy level” of his team.
Fisher spoke to the media Friday for the first time since FSU hit the field on Thursday and gushed about the first two days.
“Two good solid work days,” he said following Friday’s practice that was exclusively inside because of storms that rolled through the area.
“I’m very happy with their attitude and their demeanor coming to practice. Practice got really fast Friday].
“A couple of those young freshmen got used to how we practiced.”
Fisher added that the team is “not doing everything right but flying around, you can see the athleticism. … The energy level of this group has got me excited.”
Linebacker Reggie Northrup, who had surgery in January to repair a torn ACL, went through the entire practice Thursday before being held out of team drills Friday.
“He did some team and then pulled him and did individual work,” Fisher said. “We’re not going to overuse that thing early. We got a plan how to manage that.”
WAITING ON PHILLIPS
Although cornerback Marcus Lewis was cleared academically and is at practice, the Seminoles are awaiting the final clearance for junior college linebacker Lorenzo Phillips.
“The grade is there,” Fisher said. “It’s the official transcripts you got to wait on. Everything is fine.”
Those transcripts are coming from East Mississippi Community College. Phillips was one of the most important signees in February. He is expected to add depth to a depleted linebacker corps.