Fisher has Seminoles on comeback road

The return to football’s elite might be happening in Tallahassee. I’ve got to use “might” in that sentence merely because of how high the Seminoles had set the bar during an unprecedented run of 14 straight seasons of finishing in the Top 5. But one thing to be sure of is that the turnaround has begun and it’s focused squarely on Jimbo Fisher.

Not only is Fisher FSU’s offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting behind Bobby Bowden, he’s also become the best recruiter on the staff and the roster is beginning to reflect that. After damn near two decades of having game-changing playmakers lined up waiting for their chance to get on the field, Florida State had been reduced to looking at De’Cody Fagg as its No. 1 receiving threat and having guys like Joslin Shaw and Willie Reid actually playing meaningful roles in the offense. Rest assured that Shaw, Reid and plenty of others wearing the garnet and gold in recent years wouldn’t have gotten close to dressing out for games 10 years ago. Remember this is the same Seminoles program that had Peter Warrick and Randy Moss on the same team … as redshirts.


Word is that when Fisher arrived from LSU before last season and got his first up-close look at the lack of skill position talent on the roster, he was horrified. Credit the man for immediately setting out to change that, as the most explosive players on the offensive depth chart are now almost exclusively freshmen and sophomores.

Taiwan Easterling was the offensive highlight of the spring game, going north of 80 yards on just five catches. The redshirt freshman from Hattiesburg is a long-strider who is already a better option than seniors Greg Carr or Richard Goodman. He’ll be joined in some capacity by third-year man Preston Parker, who was the one player Fisher seemed enamored with in 2007, so much so that Fisher had Parker playing in the backfield in addition to lining up wide. There’s the little matter of a three-game suspension that Parker must serve after being arrested for weapons and drug charges, but that’s just another day in Tallahassee, am I right? Expect Parker to be used in a variety of roles this season, similar to ’07.

Regardless of where Parker lines up, the man handing the ball to him or tossing it downfield is not guaranteed to be fifth-year senior Drew Weatherford. After missing almost all of spring ball while recovering from a knee injury, Weatherford watched as both D’Vontrey Richardson and Christian Ponder, a pair of redshirt sophomores, took the snaps and had effective springs. Ponder doesn’t have a particularly strong arm, but his touch and timing are short-list. Richardson is the most physically talented quarterback on the roster by every measuring stick.

Fisher’s recruiting hauls and his influence on nearly every aspect of the program are paying dividends … and the results may show themselves much sooner than most of us are expecting.

Oliver can be heard on 790 the Zone’s “Afternoon Saloon” weekdays from 4-7 p.m. and can be reached at


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