With all-time leading rusher Dalvin Cook headed to the NFL — and maybe the Bucs — Florida State is spending spring practice trying to figure out how to replace the likely first-round pick.
"For the most part they have been doing a pretty good job," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters of his running back group after a recent practice. "They're learning, but it's been pretty good."
Here's a quick look at the four candidates who will try to fill Cook's void:
Skinny: Akers was a unanimous top-10 national prospect and FSU's biggest recruit since defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. (ESPN's No. 1 overall talent in 2012). In four years as a high school quarterback in Clinton, Miss., the U.S. Army player of the year put up eye-popping numbers: 8,100 passing yards and 78 touchdowns, 5,100 rushing yards and 71 touchdowns. It's unfair to expect anyone to be the next Cook, but Akers — who has also been working as a returner — might be the next best thing.
Fisher says: "I've been very pleased of him. He's done a nice job. He's learning, but you can see the flashes when he runs and catches. He's very natural at the things that he does."
Skinny: The other five-star running back recruit (out of Orlando's Timber Creek High) was a complementary weapon to Cook but hasn't yet dominated. He returns the most productivity out of the group (665 career yards, nine touchdowns) and rushed for 124 yards on USF in September. He's also the biggest of the bunch and adds some necessary size that could help in short-yardage situations.
Fisher says: "He's getting better, learning to be more consistent. Growing up a little bit and doing a little better."
Skinny: The four-star recruit from Miami has speed: He was the 2013 Class 4A state champion in the 100-meter dash in high school. He has added 16 pounds to his frame since arriving in Tallahassee last summer. But Rasul is also the wildcard of the bunch. His biggest contributions as a freshman came on special teams before missing the final four games with a shoulder injury that relegated him to noncontact drills at the start of spring.
Fisher says: "He's coming on really well. … He is not a little guy. He's a big guy that can run with power and run with speed."
Year: Redshirt senior
Skinny: The St. Petersburg Catholic product began his college career at running back, switched to defensive back and is now in the offensive backfield again. After a career slowed by injuries, this is the final chance for the speedster to live up to his blue-chip billing.
Fisher says: "He's had some nice plays. He's got good ball skills, he can catch it out of the backfield, he's quick, he's becoming much more consistent in developing reads, and he made some good runs."
Contact Matt Baker at email@example.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.