Easterling out with ruptured Achilles

Updated: February 14, 2009, 1:40 AM ET
By Heather Dinich | ESPN.com

Florida State wide receiver Taiwan Easterling ruptured his left Achilles during winter conditioning drills this week and will miss spring practices, a school spokesman confirmed today.

Easterling, whose eight starts last year were the most of any returning receiver, will have surgery a week from Friday. Beyond missing spring practices, which begin March 2, there is no timetable for Easterling's return.

The injury is a significant hit to an already depleted receiving corps. The Seminoles will have to replace former receiver Preston Parker, who has been dismissed from the team after his career was marred by legal issues, and leading receiver Greg Carr, who has graduated. Easterling was the Noles' third-leading receiver in 2008 with 30 catches for 322 yards and a touchdown. This spring, the top two receivers expected to be practicing -- Bert Reed and Rod Owens -- started a combined four games in 2008.

"He messed up his Achilles pretty bad," said Reed. "I'm praying for him, as he goes through this. But I think we've got a good corps coming back. But it is up to us to step up and stop making kid mistakes and grow up this year. ... Everybody is holding each other accountable right now, and not letting each other down."

Now, Reed will be the team's top returner at the position this spring, as he finished 2008 with 23 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns.

"I really feel like I can be the go-to guy for my team if necessary," he said. "But it's not all on my shoulders. We have other receivers that can make plays."

FSU is also hoping to get more production out of Owens and rookie Jarmon Fortson this spring. Fortson played in 10 games last year and had eight catches, one of which was a touchdown.

"He's a big up and coming player for us this year," Reed said of Fortson. "With Taiwan out this spring, he should have an opportunity to have a great spring."

Florida State's wide receivers have had trouble staying on the field. Both Reed and Corey Surrency were suspended for multiple games last season, and Easterling, Cameron Wade and Richard Goodman were suspended for the Boston College game after their involvement in a brawl outside the student union.

"We don't want to be a problem this year," Reed said. "That's the big thing. We don't want to be a problem. We want to be playmakers, and do our jobs and help contribute to the team and not be a problem."

Heather Dinich covers the ACC for ESPN.com.

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