TALLAHASSEE - Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher has big plans for Freddie Stevenson.
Fisher lights up when talking about the rising sophomore fullback. His quickness, his instincts, his power; Fisher loves the skill set Stevenson brings to the backfield.
"I like what I see out of him," Fisher said. "Not only as a fullback, but as a big tailback. And he can catch the ball and is a good pass blocker. Very talented guy."
While many offenses in college football no longer use fullbacks, Fisher sees value in the position. Lonnie Pryor, now with the Bucs, was used frequently as a four-year starter at FSU from 2009 to 2012. Chad Abram, known more for his blocking, came up biggest in FSU's two closest games last season: He had a 10-yard touchdown reception against Boston College in September to tie the score at 17 after FSU fell behind 17-3. The Seminoles never trailed again until the national title game against Auburn. Abram caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of that contest to cut FSU's deficit to 21-20 after it trailed 21-3.
Stevenson (6 feet 1, 230 pounds) compares to Pryor in that he brings versatility as a blocker and runner.
The Seminoles have lost two of their four running backs for spring practice with shoulder injuries - Dalvin Cook and Ryan Green - so Stevenson has received reps at running back as well.
"Freddie can run the ball," Fisher said. "Put Freddie back there on the goal line at tailback, he's extremely natural with the football, a heavy runner."
Stevenson came to FSU with the assumption that he would play linebacker. The Seminoles recruited Stevenson, a two-way player at Bartow High, to line up on defense, but he felt there was always a chance he could switch to offense.
"(Fisher) always threw hints during recruiting that I was a good running back," Stevenson said.
Stevenson worked at linebacker for all of fall camp, but he was moved to fullback about a week before the school year started.
"He started at linebacker here, and we wanted to work some depth at fullback," Fisher said. "He was doing some things at linebacker, we got a look at him and wanted to cross-train; I think he's very natural. I think he's a very natural offensive football player."
Stevenson played in 12 games as a true freshman last season and recorded 33 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
"It was kind of tough, because it was so late in camp, but I adjusted well to it, and I knew he knew what was best for me," Stevenson said.
With Abram exhausting his eligibility, Stevenson is FSU's projected starter at fullback. Although he will not be a featured part of the offense, Fisher will look for ways to tap into Stevenson's athleticism this season.