Karlos Williams told Tyler Hunter and Keelin Smith that he misses them a few days ago. He also misses the Alabama country lilt of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
He's not far away from either - just on the other side of the ball at running back. But it's still a world of difference for Williams, who spent two years on defense. Williams isn't the only one - seven players on Florida State's offensive unit started out on defense, and two more defensive players have taken on part-time offensive responsibilities as well. It's not a new trend for Florida State, but one that's accelerated this season.
"When I first moved I was kind of skeptical and didn't know what to think," offensive tackle and former defensive tackle Giorgio Newberry, Williams, Marquez White, Nigel Terrell and Freddie Stevenson have all been moved since the start of fall camp.
""It's amazing the eye these coaches have for talent and how they can see a guy who could be a five-star at one position but then comes to college and plays somewhere else and he still does well," Erving said.
Athletes may be what FSU recruits, but in the recent past, the Seminoles have done a much better job securing top-end defensive talent than offensive. Since 2008, Florida State has signed 13 five-star recruits. Only two were offensive players: Jameis Winston and James Wilder, Jr.
That's created a defense that is loaded in both top-end talent and depth, but FSU's offense hasn't acquired the same level of weaponry on the recruiting trail. And as injuries and off-the-field issues thinned the offensive depth chart, defensive players slid over to fill the gaps.
Newberry shifted to tight end when injuries left FSU with just one active tight end in fall camp. White shifted over to offense exclusively after originally being listed as a CB/WR on the depth chart. Freddie Stevenson and Nigel Terrell moved over to fullback from linebacker. Williams shifted from defensive back to running back.
All left incredibly crowded positions: Florida State remains deep at all its defensive units even after the shift. Defensive players say they understand the shifts - even if it's odd to see their former unit-mates lined up opposite them in practice now.
"Wherever those guys are needed they're going to play there," Safety Terrence Brooks said. "Those guys are just plugged in at different roles that can be effective and we still have guys on defense that can fill in at those positions. It just goes to cross-training. We have guys on defense that are really good wide receivers, or in Karlos' position, running backs. I know we don't have any quarterbacks that can go over, though."
Those who have switched say it's not a completely smooth transition. Fisher's offensive playbook is deep and there are a number of packages and reads and assignments to pick up on any given play.
Abram said the biggest difference for him was the amount of running the offense does in practice - far more than the defense. Newberry echoed that sentiment, saying his experience playing offense in high school only vaguely prepared him to play tight end at FSU.
"It took a minute," Newberry said. "High school you're just having fun. You're just doing whatever. Here you've got more serious assignments."
Players say Fisher makes a point to never force players one way or the other, only suggests moves. That approach has helped with the various transitions, as has his track record of moving players successfully throughout his career.
"First of all you have to look at coach Fisher's track record even from back at LSU," Erving said. "When he switched guys from defense to offense, those guys had great careers. There's a great deal of trust with guys on the team and everybody is able to just buy in. He's doing what's best for the team. He doesn't make anyone move. He suggests, gives pros and cons, and tells you 'if it doesn't work out, go back to what you were doing'. But so far none of it has failed. That just pushes us to want to trust him more."
And that shift has also opened up more opportunities for FSU's younger players to get on the field. Jalen Ramsey has gotten significant minutes at cornerback, Demarcus Walker has slid into the rotation at defensive end, and that's just the freshmen who are involved.
"It's opened a lot of eyes," linebacker Telvin Smith said. "Just goes to show: you come out here and work hard and you never know what can happen. Like Jimbo says, it's a long season."
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