TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has made no secret during the preseason he likes the Seminoles incoming freshman class. Especially on defense.
Four freshmen have earned spots on the two-deep depth chart, which was released Monday.
DE Bjoern Werner, MLB Jeff Luc, WLB Telvin Smith and CB Lamarcus Joyner are listed as backups — and presumably all could figure to play significantly early in their careers.
Werner might have been the most surprising name on the two-deep, though Fisher said Werner has been working with the second team throughout the preseason.
QB Christian Ponder is impressed by Werner, 6 feet 4, 274 pounds.
"The offensive line struggles to move him," Ponder said. "He's going to be an unbelievable player."
Junior RB Jermaine Thomas, who lost his job in the spring to sophomore Chris Thompson, is the starter. Thompson and Ty Jones of Middleton are vying for second team.
Senior Ochuko Jenije, who moved from cornerback to free safety, will likely start ahead of Nick Moody, who has a groin injury.
Redshirt freshman OL Bryan Stork is atop the depth chart at right guard, but David Spurlock is expected to the start the season. Spurlock missed significant time in the preseason because of medical reasons.
UF: Praise for Brantley
GAINESVILLE — John Brantley's road to becoming the Florida starting quarterback has been long, and sometimes disappointing, as he waited in the wings. But in retrospect, he insists it was all for the best. Coach Urban Meyer agrees.
Meyer said he has seen phenomenal growth and maturity in Brantley. So much so, he sent a text to the quarterback's father, John Brantley III.
"John (III) and I are very close," Meyer said. "There's not a better family than John and Karen Brantley, and his uncle Scot. I texted him the other day and I had just watched the way Johnny managed practice. I said, 'Enjoy the ride. Your son is growing up to be a man.' What he's done here in the last year has been exactly what we need to have happen. He's grown up. He's the leader of this team, and he's Johnny Brantley, which is good enough for us."
O-LINE'S DREAM: As part of a new-look offense, the Gators might use more plays under center and more of the running game. Senior OL Carl Johnson said a more traditional offense is exciting. "It's every hog's dream to play in the mud," he said.
INJURY REPORT: OL Matt Patchan (fractured right wrist) and Xavier Nixon (right knee) won't be the only players sidelined. Senior DT Terron Sanders (sprained keen) will likely be held out as a precaution. Sanders suffered an ACL injury nine months ago. TE Jordan Reed is questionable with a bruised right knee.
Antonya English, Times staff writer
USF: Freshmen look good
TAMPA — RB Marcus Shaw has been added to the list of true freshmen likely to play for the Bulls this season, as coach Skip Holtz said he has shown enough to be in the rotation.
"We've got a logjam," Holtz said. "Over the last two weeks, when you look at the job that (Bradley) Battles has done and (Demetris) Murray and even the young Marcus Shaw, they've put themselves in the mix. We've got four tailbacks that will all play and can all play."
Senior Mo Plancher, the early projected starter, has been slowed by a shoulder injury in the past 10 days; he is expected to play in Saturday's opener against I-AA Stony Brook.
Shaw makes it seven true freshmen Holtz is strongly considering playing. CB Terrence Mitchell and S Mark Joyce appear to be the only freshmen on defense; QB Bobby Eveld, T Quinterrius Eatmon and WRs Stephen Bravo-Brown and Deonte Welch are options on offense.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
UM: Sharing the carries
CORAL GABLES — With coach Randy Shannon planning to use as many as five tailbacks this season, Miami will have Damian Berry, Mike James and Lamar Miller share carries in Thursday's opener against Florida A&M.
notable: WR Travis Benjamin said he, CB Brandon Harris and Miller and RB Eduardo Clements will start the season as punt returners and Harris, Miller and RB Storm Johnson will return kickoffs. … Seantrel Henderson, a 6-foot-8, 355-pound freshman who initially signed with USC, has been working as the second-team right tackle and is expected to play Thursday. "God, he's huge. I could hide behind Seantrel, and I'm not small," said 6-foot-7, 312-pound T Orlando Franklin.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
UCF: Calabrese has edge
ORLANDO — UCF coach George O'Leary said junior QB Rob Calabrese is tentatively scheduled to start the opener against South Dakota on Saturday, though true freshman Jeff Godfrey has made headway in the competition and will play.
"Nothing has unseated Rob in my mind yet," O'Leary said. "I'm always going to go with experience."