Rudolph emerging as FSU’s top receiver
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is looking for a receiver to emerge who could make plays all the time.
At the midway point of spring practice, Travis Rudolph looks like he can fill the void.
"He's been playing as hard as I've seen him play since he's been here," Fisher said of Rudolph after Florida State'sfirst scrimmage on Saturday.
Rudolph led Florida State last season in receptions (59), yards (916) and touchdowns (seven), but he was also the epitome of the group's inconsistency. The junior had five receptions for 191 yards and three touchdowns in an Oct. 31 win over Syracuse and then had seven catches for 201 yards in the Peach Bowl loss to Houston. But there were also six games where he had 44 or fewer yards.
After the departures of Rashad Greene and Kelvin Benjamin the past two seasons, a consistent big-play receiver was lacking in 2015.
"Last year I took plays off because I didn't think the ball wasn't coming to me. Now I don't take plays off and have to go all the time," Rudolph said. "Things are definitely going well for me right now but there is still a lot to work on."
Fisher said he began to see a change in Rudolph's approach during conditioning drills. Instead of being near the back of drills, Rudolph was up front. Fisher noted that Rudolph might have been the most consistent player he had during the offseason.
"He's always had talent and played well, had some really good games, but consistency is what makes great players and the way he came out in the workouts was tremendous," Fisher said.
Rudolph said he has noticed that Fisher is expecting more out of him this year including being more of a leader on and off the field. That includes being more disciplined in route running along with being better in his technique.
While Rudolph has made big gains, Fisher is waiting to see that from the rest of the group. During the first two weeks, he has lamented the lack of consistency from what should be an experienced group.
Junior Kermit Whitfield had a slow start, but Fisher was pleased with how the junior did during the scrimmage. Jesus Wilson, another junior who excelled as a slot receiver last season, is out due to a foot injury. Sophomores Ermon Lane and Ja'Vonn Harrison along with freshman George Campbell have been limited due to injuries.
"We have to do a better job of catching and adjusting on our routes. We've had some balls that have hit the ground and that shouldn't happen," Rudolph said. "All the quarterback has to do is put it in a position where we can make the play. That's the standard that we hold ourselves to. We're not close to where we are supposed to be."
Besides staying healthy, Fisher said the main thing he is evaluating with receivers is if they are making good decisions and getting open.
"At the end of the day that's what it gets down to and that's what they have to prove and if they can do it consistently and get open and do different things," he said.