Florida State released its first depth chart of the 2021 season minutes ago and while some of the starters were expected, there are definitely a few surprises. This is still an extremely young team as the Seminoles have just five seniors in the starting lineup and a total of eight in the two-deep (will go up to nine when Emmett Rice returns).
Here are five takeaways and thoughts on a few spots on the roster.
1. Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton listed as co-starters
The big news from today is that head coach Mike Norvell still hasn't publicly named a starting quarterback. Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton appeared on the depth chart as co-starters, which is something we've expected for some time now.
There's no advantage to confirming which signal-caller will take the field first against Notre Dame and it's smart for the Seminoles to make the Fighting Irish prepare for both players. Regardless, we are expecting Travis to win the job as of now. It'll be imperative for him to come out in a rhythm on Sunday night.
2. The starting offensive line
The improvement on the offensive line is something we've monitored all offseason, particularly with the number of starters and contributors that Florida State is returning in Alex Atkins' second season leading the unit. It's worth mentioning that this is the first time since 2017 that the program has had the same offensive line coach for at least two years. Hopefully, that leads to stability.
The starting unit is as follows; left tackle Robert Scott, left guard Dillan Gibbons, center Maurice Smith, right guard Devontay Love-Taylor, and right tackle Darius Washington. Scott, Smith, Love-Taylor, and Washington all started games for FSU in 2020 while Gibbons is expected to make an instant impact as a grad transfer.
3. FSU going with experience at wide receiver
Florida State will trot out a veteran starting lineup at wide receiver against Notre Dame that includes grad transfer Andrew Parchment, Keyshawn Helton, and Ontaria Wilson. All three of these guys have played a lot of football throughout their careers and had positive moments during fall camp. The x-factor is Parchment, how quickly can he acclimate to the offense and route tree after enrolling late this summer?
Elsewhere, a pair of true freshmen in Malik McClain and Joshua Burrell are listed as primary backups. They'll both be relied on to make some plays as the Seminoles look to generate consistency out wide.
4. Stephen Dix Jr. not with the starting linebackers?
This one is slightly a surprise as it was hoped the rising redshirt freshman would see a leap in his development and start opposite of Amari Gainer in 2021. That said, Norvell and the defensive coaching staff have constantly praised redshirt sophomore Kalen Deloach and redshirt freshman DJ Lundy for their flashes leading back to the spring.
Both have continued to come on strong during the fall and now have starting jobs to show for it. Newly converted linebacker Jadarius Green-McKnight will back up Gainer while offseason transfer Cortez Andrews is behind DeLoach. I expect this unit to have some changes once Emmett Rice is healthy enough to return to action.
5. Ryan Fitzgerald wins the kicking battle
After a 2020 season that saw Ryan Fitzgerald and Parker Grothaus both finish 4/7 on field goal attempts, FSU is looking to have a more reliable leg this year. The two battled all offseason, spring, and into fall camp but it looks like Fitzgerald has come out on top.
The redshirt freshman started off camp hot and seems to be putting together the tools that made him one of the most sought-after kicking prospects in the country in 2019.