Transfers Bless Harris, Kayden Lyles give Florida State flexibility on offensive line

·6 min read

Can Harris, Lyles make a difference?

Adding Bless Harris (FCS Lamar) and Kayden Lyles (Wisconsin) via the transfer portal expanded Florida State’s options on the offensive line.

Harris and Lyles are expected to compete for starting jobs. But where they will eventually line up remains to be seen.

With Harris and Lyles in the mix, there are several possibilities for what the Seminole offensive line could look like this fall.

FSU returned four starters on the offensive line:

Left tackle Darius Washington, left guard Dillan Gibbons, center Maurice Smith and right tackle Robert Scott Jr. Right guard Devontay Love-Taylor expired his eligibility after last season.

FSU coverage

More: 'Not scared of the moment.' Florida State looks to improve, even while atop ACC standings

More: Chart it! Here's the list of Florida State football's 26 newcomers for 2022 season

More: Jared Verse embracing expectations that come with his new role with Florida State football

Filling the void left by Love-Taylor may not be as simple as replacing him with another right guard and keeping the rest of the group intact. FSU may look to shuffle one of its returning starters to right guard and replace their vacancy with Harris, Lyles or another player on the roster.

The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Harris could line up at either offensive tackle spot or guard. At 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, Lyles could play center or guard.

“Left tackle for sure,” said Harris on which position he prefers. “But as of right now, I’m getting a lot of stances, pass protection and things at right tackle right now.”

Maybe Washington or Scott will move inside if Harris impresses. Or maybe Harris will simply provide depth. Regardless, Washington should be considered a lock to secure a starting position. And Gibbons is certainly expected to still start at left guard. The status of Scott and Smith, though, may depend on how they look this spring after an injury-ridden season.

That Harris is beginning his Seminole career at right tackle could mean he’s competing with Scott for the starting job.

“Bless brings size, athletic ability and versatility to our offensive line,” FSU head coach Mike Norvell said in a statement. “He played left tackle and also has the ability to move inside. He is a smart, tough football player who has continued to develop and whose best football is ahead of him.”

FSU picked up a commitment from Lamar offensive tackle transfer Bless Harris Sunday morning after his visit to Tallahassee.
FSU picked up a commitment from Lamar offensive tackle transfer Bless Harris Sunday morning after his visit to Tallahassee.

Harris attracts interest in portal

As a two-star recruit from St. Augustine High in New Orleans, Harris did not reportedly receive a Division I FBS scholarship offer. So he joined Lamar. He played 10 games – and started two of them – as a redshirt freshman in 2019. In the 2021 spring season for Lamar, Harris started at left tackle. He played only five games before suffering a season-ending injury.

Then Harris entered his name in the transfer portal. Colorado, Virginia and UCF were among schools to offer him a scholarship. After visiting UCF in October, Harris announced his verbal commitment to the Knights. He changed his mind following a visit to FSU for its 31-28 victory over Miami in November.

Not playing football last fall afforded Harris enough time to be confident in his decision.

“At first it was kind of sad because it was like, yeah, I could’ve been suiting up every Saturday just like everyone else,” Harris said. “But God had something else in store for me, so I just took it as that.”

Lyles had more of a conventional path to Power Five football. He held several scholarship offers as a four-star recruit in high school, including one from Arizona State while Norvell served as its offensive coordinator.

Kayden Lyles, who has started has started 16 games and played in 34 at Wisconsin, has decided to enter the transfer portal. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
Kayden Lyles, who has started has started 16 games and played in 34 at Wisconsin, has decided to enter the transfer portal. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

Lyles can play multiple positions

With the ability to play all three interior positions, Lyles also gives the Seminoles the ability to tinker with their starting five. Though Lyles already knows the position that best suits him.

“The initial conversation is center,” said Lyles on his projected position. “And I think that’s what’s going to be the opportunity here is to be a center. Just out of my own personal take, I feel most comfortable at center. Just the knowledge of being able to be a leader of the whole line. And then as well as a team I feel like I could be able to build that here.”

In four seasons with the Badgers, Lyles appeared in 34 games with 16 starts. He started seven games at defensive end – out of position need – as a redshirt freshman in 2018. Then Lyles returned to the offensive line. Across his last two seasons, Lyles started multiple games at center and left guard.

The Seminoles should benefit from the veteran Lyles, even if he does not win the starting job.

“Kayden brings great experience and toughness to our team,” Norvell said in a statement. “He is smart, having already graduated from Wisconsin with a degree in industrial engineering, and extremely competitive.

“We are looking forward to the impact Kayden will have within our program on and off the field.”

It’s possible Lyles and Harris will not claim a starting spot. But their presence offers FSU flexibility. If the Seminoles reshuffle their offensive line, or if there are more injuries, Lyles and Harris will be there.

“I would like to make a big impact,” Lyles said. “Being able to just showcase who I am and who I truly am on and off the field. Wisconsin was a great place, and I got to be able to put a lot of stuff on film.

“But things didn’t really go the way that I wanted to, leaving there. So coming here, I just felt like I’ll be able to build off what I previously built at Wisconsin, being able to have an opportunity to just get to my ultimate ability.”

Four-star offensive lineman Julian Armella is choosing between FSU, UF, Alabama and LSU Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period.
Four-star offensive lineman Julian Armella is choosing between FSU, UF, Alabama and LSU Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period.

Florida State football 2022 newcomers

Dante Anderson* DL 6-3 215 Miami, Fla. Homestead Senior

Julian Armella OL 6-6 285 Miami Beach, Fla. St. Thomas Aquinas

Trey Benson* RB 6-1 215 Greenville, Miss. St. Joseph Catholic/Oregon

Tatum Bethune* LB 6-1 225 Miami, Fla. Miami Central/UCF

Kanaya Charlton* OL 6-5 355 Brunswick, Ga. Brunswick

Brian Courtney* TE 6-3 230 Ashburn, Va. Independence

AJ Duffy* QB 6-2 223 Murrieta, Calif. Rancho Verde

Jaylen Early OL 6-4 320 Duncanville, Texas Duncanville

Omar Graham, Jr.* LB 6-1 225 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Stranahan

Bless Harris* OL 6-5 315 New Orleans, La. St. Augustine HS/Lamar

Aaron Hester* DL 6-2 235 Jacksonville, Fla. Fletcher

Rodney Hill* RB 5-10 180 Statesboro, Ga. Bulloch Academy

Kayden Lyles* OL 6-3 315 Tampa, Fla. Middleton HS (Wisc.)/Wisconsin

Daniel Lyons* DL 6-4 275 Miami, Fla. Homestead Senior

Jerrale Powers TE 6-4 238 Arlington, Texas Duncanville

On Sunday, five-star Sam McCall committed to FSU
On Sunday, five-star Sam McCall committed to FSU

Sam McCall* DB 6-1 182 Lakeland, Fla. Lake Gibson

Mycah Pittman* WR 5-11 205 Tampa, Fla. Calabasas HS (Calif.)/Oregon

Daughtry Richardson* OL 6-5 285 Miami, Fla. Miami Central

Qae’shon Sapp OL 6-4 325 Leesburg, Ga. Lee County

Deuce Spann* WR 6-4 195 St. Petersburg, Fla. Lakewood HS/Illinois

Azareye’h Thomas* DB 6-2 181 Niceville, Fla. Niceville

Bishop Thomas* DL 6-2 295 New Orleans, La. Bishop Moore Catholic (Fla.)

Greedy Vance* DB 5-11 175 Kenner, La. Edna Karr HS/Louisville

Jared Verse* DL 6-4 250 Dayton, Ohio Central Columbia HS (Penn.)/Albany

Johnny Wilson* WR 6-7 225 Pacoima, Calif. Calabasas HS/Arizona State

Winston Wright, Jr.* WR 5-10 180 Savannah, Ga. Memorial Day School/West Virginia

*-Enrolled at FSU for Spring 2022 semester

Chart supplied by FSU sports information

*-Enrolled at FSU for Spring 2022 semester

Chart supplied by FSU sports information

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FSU football benefits from offensive line additions Harris, Lyles