Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher isn't one to compare players, especially a sophomore to a former star at both college and NFL levels, but he does see enough in RB Lonnie Pryor to suggest that maybe, just maybe, he could develop into the kind of player Edgar Bennett was.
Bennett was a 6-foot-2, 212-pound fullback who did a little bit of everything for the Seminoles in his career (1987-91), the start of the program's dynastic 14-year run of top-five finishes. He then spent eight seasons with Green Bay and Chicago.
"I think this guy's one of the most underrated guys that played here," Fisher said of Bennett. "You always talk about the tailbacks, Amp (Lee) and Warrick (Dunn) and Dexter (Carter) and Sammie (Smith), but that's a guy who had a lot of production and was a great player."
He's not saying Pryor is rivaling Bennett in that regard. But Pryor, similarly built at 6-0, 213, does a bit of everything for the No. 23 Seminoles (4-1, 2-0) who go to Miami to play the No. 13 Hurricanes (3-1, 1-0) on Saturday night.
Pryor blocks well and, while he's neither a sprinter nor a bulldozer, he's an instinctive, productive runner (two carries for 9 yards this season; 29 for 165 yards and four touchdowns in his career). And he has soft hands (three catches for 23 yards and two touchdowns; he had 10 receptions for 132 yards and a score as a freshman). Beyond the stats is his team-first attitude, selflessly accepting a position change from tailback.
"He's one of those glue guys that keeps your organization together and let's you do a lot of things," Fisher said.
"I'm playing and helping the team," Pryor said.
As for any early comparisons to Bennett, Pryor really didn't know much about him but others had mentioned the similarities to him over the weekend.
"I'm going to go on YouTube and see what he was about," he said.
Freshman impact: Freshman LB Christian Jones stepped in for Mister Alexander, who went out in the first half of last weekend's game at Virginia with a mild concussion, and had a team-high six tackles. That included his second career sack and his first pass breakup. He earned ACC rookie of the week.
"We all know he has that size and athleticism, but he's learning to turn it loose now and play fast," Fisher said. "He has a great understanding of the game. He can play the pass. He can rush. He can play in space for a big guy. He can take on blocks. He's going to be a really good football player. … If he shows he can play with more consistency, which he did Saturday, we'll feel a lot more comfortable putting him in more and more as we go."
Author, author: Former TE Ryan Sprague, part of an incredible era of success during his five years (1996-2000), wrote a book about his FSU time, Grateful: From Walking On to Winning It All At Florida State, that he hopes will kindle or re-kindle an appreciation for the program and for coach Bobby Bowden.
"I felt we was very fortunate to be at FSU when we were, riding on the shoulders of a bunch of great players and great coaches who went before us to establish a great tradition," he said. "And I was able to be with a bunch of superior athletes and great guys who made us very, very good. … I was able to be a fly on the wall through one of the greatest stretches of college football that was ever played."
More than just a fly. Though Sprague had just five catches during the 1999 championship season, one was an 18-yard touchdown late in the second quarter against Miami that tied the score, 21-21. It was the only touchdown of his career, high school and college, and gave the Seminoles an emotional lift that they carried into the second half for a 31-21 win.
A picture of that touchdown catch serves as the cover to his book, which can be found at the FSU bookstore, Bill's Bookstore, Garnet & Gold and Rayann's Christian Bookstore or at www.ryansprague.com.
Catching up with Gano: Former star K/P Graham Gano is in his second season with the Washington Redskins and was naturally upbeat this week; he and his teammates beat the Eagles 17-12. Gano hit a pair of PATs and a 26-yard field goal.
"That was a big divisional game for us," Gano said, adding it was something of an eye-opener going to Philadelphia. "We were driving in on the bus and the fans were throwing stuff at our bus and (you heard) every cuss word in the book. It was a little different."
Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347.