Florida State Seminoles: Lamarcus Brutus

FSU depth chart breakdown: Defense

January, 31, 2014
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Last week, we previewed Florida State’s offensive depth chart for the spring. This week, we’ll dig into the defense.

The biggest question might be how similar the 2014 defensive scheme will look to 2013. Yes, promoting Charles Kelly certainly offers stability, but he’s also likely to want to put his own stamp on the unit rather than offering a shot-for-shot remake of Jeremy Pruitt’s system. With some significant transition in personnel and some major losses of talent, there’s room to tinker this spring. Here’s what we’ll be watching:

Defensive line

[+] EnlargeNick Marshall
Richard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsExpect Mario Edwards to have a bigger hand in things this fall on the Florida State defensive line.
Projected starters: Mario Edwards Jr. (Jr.), Nile Lawrence-Stample (RSJr.), Eddie Goldman (Jr.)
Backups: Desmond Hollin (Sr.), Chris Casher (RSSo.), DeMarcus Walker (So.), Derrick Mitchell (RSJr.), Keith Bryant (RSFr.), Justin Shanks (RSSo.)

Storylines: Replacing Timmy Jernigan is an impossible task, but expect plenty of hype for Lawrence-Stample this spring. He was one of Jimbo Fisher’s favorites last spring, and he’ll be counted on to step up even more this time around. The loss of Christian Jones as a hybrid rusher impacts the D line, too, and how Kelly plans to handle that role now should be interesting to watch. Edwards and Goldman are both five-star players with two years of experience under their belt, but now they’ll be looked to as leaders -- both on and off the field.

Status: B
If you want to include Jones as a defensive lineman, FSU is set to lose seven DLs to the NFL in a two-year span -- including two first-rounders in Bjoern Werner and, likely, Jernigan. That’s sapped some depth from the position, but Goldman and Edwards are as good as any D-linemen in the ACC and there’s plenty of talent behind them, too.

Linebacker

Projected starters: Reggie Northrup (Jr.), Terrance Smith (RSJr.), Matthew Thomas (So.)
Backups: E.J. Levenberry (So.), Ro'Derrick Hoskins (RSFr.), Nigel Terrell (RSSr.), Ukeme Eligwe (RSSo.), Kain Daub (Fr.)

Storylines: Smith is the only lock for a starting job here -- and even that might depend on your definition of “lock.” But while the unit is short on experience, it’s high on talent. The battle to replace Jones in the hybrid LB/DE position should be an interesting one, with Thomas offering perhaps the most upside, but Casher and Eligwe certainly in the mix, too. Northrup is the most experienced option to replace Telvin Smith, and he’s certainly capable of blossoming into a disruptive force, but Fisher raved about Levenberry throughout 2013, and that figures to be one of the more intriguing battles of spring camp. Add Daub to the mix as an early enrollee, and Kelly’s biggest problem here might be figuring out how to get enough snaps for all his talented linebackers.

Status: B
There’s plenty of talent here, but it’s impossible to replace the veteran savvy of Smith and Jones. By year’s end, this should be a terrific group, but there’s lots to be learned this spring.

Safety

[+] EnlargeJalen Ramsey
Jeremy McKnight/Icon SMISafety Jalen Ramsey will play a big role in the Seminoles secondary, which will be among the best in the nation.
Projected starters: Jalen Ramsey (So.), Nate Andrews (So.), Tyler Hunter (RSJr.)
Backups: Lamarcus Brutus (RSJr.), Keelin Smith (RSJr.), Tyrell Lyons (RSFr.)

Storylines: Ramsey and Andrews were exceptional as true freshmen, but the job now is to build on that progress under a new position coach. There’s little reason to believe that won’t happen. The bigger question mark at the moment is the health of Hunter, who is recovering from a neck injury that nearly ended his career. He was the leader of the secondary last spring and summer, and his impact on a young group could be huge again in 2014.

Status: A
Terrence Brooks was always undervalued, and he’ll be missed, but Hunter, Ramsey and Andrews projects as potentially the best trio of safeties in the nation.

Cornerback

Projected starters: P.J. Williams (Jr.), Ronald Darby (Jr.)
Backups: Marquez White (So.), Nick Waisome (Sr.), Colin Blake (RSSo.)

Storylines: Losing Lamarcus Joyner is a big blow, but there’s little to be concerned with here. Williams and Darby are both exceptional and figure to get even better in 2014. Darby was limited all season with a groin injury, so some downtime may be the priority for him. Waisome saw a ton of action in 2012 but largely disappeared in 2013. How he responds this spring might tell a lot about his future.

Status: A
It says a lot about the work Fisher, Pruitt and Mark Stoops have done over the past few years that FSU can lose a player of Joyner’s caliber and still likely have the best secondary -- and best pair of starting corners -- in the country.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It's tough to say with any level of certainty just how many sacks Florida State's defense would have recorded if Saturday's spring game was played under true game conditions, but even if the quarterbacks couldn't get hit, Jeremy Pruitt's new-look defense had a strong showing.

[+] EnlargePj Williams
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsP.J. Williams intercepted Jacob Coker on Saturday, returning the pick for a touchdown.
Overall, the two teams recorded nine sacks in Saturday's scrimmage, led by defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample's 3.5, which would've been impressive under any circumstances. But as Jimbo Fisher pointed out after the game, those numbers came from a relatively vanilla scheme.

"You ain't seen blitzes yet," Fisher said with a grin.

In his first year as Florida State's defensive coordinator, Pruitt has installed an aggressive style that promises to offer a myriad of looks designed to get after the quarterback.

Saturday's spring game wasn't exactly a sneak peak, however, with a number of key defensive starters out with injuries and only a watered-down version of Pruitt's game plan implemented. But the past four weeks have been eye-opening, linebacker Christian Jones said, and there's ample reason for excitement.

"This spring, we pretty much put in the whole playbook, and we just ran a little sample of it," Jones said. "We've done a pretty good job of picking it all up, but it's a lot of stuff, a lot of checks, change the fronts, but we've done a good job of handling all that. Once we get into the fall and can game plan, I think we're going to have a real scary defense."

It wasn't all smooth sailing for the defense Saturday, as all four of Florida State's quarterbacks managed at least one touchdown pass, but there was plenty of room for optimism. Lamarcus Brutus and Karlos Williams both intercepted passes, and P.J. Williams came up with a pick of a Jacob Coker throw that he returned for a touchdown.

"I thought the defense played well," Fisher said. "I'm very pleased with the way they're playing."

(Read full post)

Noles 2013 snapshot: Nate Andrews 

February, 26, 2013
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With national signing day beyond us, NoleNation takes a closer look at the next crop of Seminoles.

Vitals: Defensive back Nate Andrews (Fairhope, Ala./Fairhope), 5-foot-11, 195 pounds

Committed: Jan. 25, 2013

ESPN.com grade: 78, three-star prospect

ESPN.com rankings: No. 74 wide receiver prospect in the country, No. 253 player in the Southeast region and No. 23 in Alabama

Picked Florida State over: Alabama, Minnesota, Mississippi

State of the Noles: Safeties 

February, 25, 2013
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NoleNation writers David Hale and Corey Dowlar are going position by position, looking at what FSU has on its roster now, and who might provide reinforcements down the line, projecting starters and evaluating the depth through 2015.

Up next, an abundance of talent has led to an interesting debate at safety.


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Noles 2013 snapshot: Marquez White 

February, 15, 2013
2/15/13
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With national signing day now beyond us, NoleNation takes a closer look at the next crop of Seminoles.

Vitals: Cornerback Marquez White (Dothan, Ala./Northview), 6-foot-1, 170 pounds.

Committed: May 25, 2012.

ESPN.com grade: 83, four-star prospect.

ESPN.com rankings: No. 17 cornerback in the country, No. 74 player in the Southeast region, No. 7 prospect in the state of Alabama and the No. 158 player in the ESPN 300.

Picked Florida State over: Alabama, Auburn and Kentucky.


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Noles 2013 snapshot: Jalen Ramsey 

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
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With national signing day now beyond us, NoleNation takes a look at the next crop of Seminoles.

Vitals: Cornerback Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy), 6-foot, 190 pounds


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