The Daily Nole

Phillips Could Be Latest Blue-Chip WR to Not Pan Out for FSU

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To say that wide receiver Da’Vante Phillips’ future at Florida State is in jeopardy might be putting it mildly. Phillips was recently arrested on felony fraud charges, suspended indefinitely and may never take another snap for the Seminoles.

If this is the end for Phillips, he will finish his career with just five catches for 30 yards. Unfortunately, Phillips would also add to a long list of FSU blue-chip receivers that didn’t come close to living up to their billing. Phillips was a 4-star prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite, out of Miami when he signed with Florida State in 2015.

Going back to 2007, FSU has signed 22 blue-chip wide receivers or athletes who would go on to play wide receiver for the Seminoles. Here’s a look at how things have panned out:

  • Six have been dismissed, ruled academically ineligible or transferred before their eligibility was up.
  • Five are currently enrolled and listed at wide receiver.
  • Two were drafted.
  • Four played out their eligibility and finished with more than 1,000 career yards receiving.
  • One played out his eligibility and finished with less than 1,000 career yards receiving.
  • One declared early for the NFL Draft and went undrafted.
  • One left early to pursue a career in another sport.
  • One changed positions.
  • One exhausted his eligibility sooner than expected.

Early Departures: Da’Vante Phillips would be the seventh blue-chip receiver to be either dismissed, academically ineligible or transfer before his eligibility was up. The other six consist of Ja’Vonn Harrison, Jarmon Fortson, Isaiah Jones, De’Joshua Johnson, Greg Dent and Willie Haulstead. Fortson, Haulstead and Dent were productive with all finishing with more than 600 yards receiving for their careers.

Currently Enrolled: Phillips sits on this list for the time being. The other blue-chips currently enrolled are freshman D.J. Matthews, sophomore Keith Gavin, redshirt sophomore George Campbell and junior Auden Tate. The only other two scholarship receivers on the roster are freshman Tamorrion Terry and leading returning receiver Nyqwan Murray, a junior. Both of those players were 3-star prospects.

Drafted: The only two blue-chip FSU receivers to be drafted came from the class of 2011. That includes all-time leading receiver Rashad Greene, who led the Seminoles in receiving in each of his four years on campus and Kelvin Benjamin who went on to be drafted by the Carolina Panthers after a breakout redshirt sophomore season in 2013. That season, that duo became just the second in school-history to go over 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. The first was Andre Cooper and E.G. Green in 1995. Greene was a fifth-round selection of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015.

Played Out Eligibility with Over 1,000 Yards Receiving: This list isn’t a great one, but it is good one. The latest member to join was Kermit Whitfield, who was a 4-year contributor. The other three on the list are Kenny Shaw, Rodney Smith and Bert Reed.

Played Out Eligibility with Under 1,000 Yards Receiving: The only player on this list is Christian Green. After a solid redshirt freshman season in 2011 in which he finished with 450 yards, Green tallied just 320 total yards receiving over his final three seasons.

Declared Early, Undrafted: The lone member of this list is Travis Rudolph, who declared after last season, but went undrafted after leading the team in receiving in each of his final two years. Rudolph was signed as a free agent by the New York Giants.

Left to Pursue Another Sport: The one on this list is Marvin Bracy. Bracy thought his blazing speed would be better used for track and has had track success. Taiwan Easterling, a former 3-star prospect, also left prior to his senior season to play professional baseball, but hit .253 in three minor league seasons.

Changed Positions: The player on this list is currently enrolled and that’s former 5-star prospect Ermon Lane. After a promising freshman season in 2014, Lane watched his numbers decline dramatically as a sophomore, so he decided to move over to safety midway through his junior year. Lane didn’t appear on defense until Oct. 8 against Miami, but finished with 37 total tackles and an interception.

Exhausted Eligibility Sooner Than Expected: This dubious distinction belongs to junior college transfer Corey Surrency. During his only season of 2008, Surrency caught 12 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns. Because Surrency spent a year playing semi-pro before enrolling at FSU, he was assessed with a year of eligibility.

Conclusion: When it comes to maximizing wide receivers’ potential since 2007, FSU has not done a great job. 2007 was also the first season that Lawrence Dawsey took over as positions coach. Dawsey gets a lot of the blame from the fan base, but bad luck with players electing to pursue other careers, getting dismissed or struggling with academics is not his fault.

While some of the higher-rated prospects have failed to live up expectations, other players who had fewer stars have. Jesus Wilson most recently was a 3-year contributor at receiver while Nyqwan Murray could be in for an All-ACC season. Unfortunately for Phillips, he looks to be headed toward the top category listed or in the minds of many, another case of what could have been.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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