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Pre-Spring Breakdown: Defensive Backs/Running Backs

Jan. 30, 2013

As part of a daily series prior to National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 6, Seminoles.com will take a look at each of the returning scholarship players on the roster with a breakdown of what they did in 2012 and what can be of expected of them when spring practices get started.

Brandon Mellor
Brandon Mellor
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
bmellor@fsu.edu
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Up first are the defensive backs and running backs/fullbacks. The defensive backs are under the leadership of a new position coach in defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt while the running backs are led by new coach Randy Sanders.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Colin Blake

2012 Recap: A former four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Blake redshirted in his first season with the Seminoles.

2013 Spring Outlook: FSU has made it a habit of signing versatile defensive backs under head coach Jimbo Fsher and Blake fits that mold to a tee. Could he play cornerback? Yes. Could he line up at safety? Yes. Blake's role in the FSU secondary will be determined this spring when the 6-foot-3, 193-pounder will be given an opportunity to compete for meaningful playing time.

Justin Bright

2012 Recap: Bright played in three games and posted one fumble recovery while battling with injury through most of the year.

2013 Spring Outlook: When healthy, Bright provides much-needed veteran depth at the safety spot.


Terrence Brooks


Terrence Brooks

2012 Recap: Brooks started all 14 games as a junior and finished tied with Lamarcus Joyner for most tackles among defensive backs with 51. He also accrued one tackle for loss, a team second-best two interceptions , four pass breakups, six passes defended and was one of nine Seminoles to force a fumble. 

2013 Spring Outlook: Brooks enters his last spring-practice period at Florida State as a starter at safety where, like his classmate Joyner, he will have to acclimate to a new position coach after three seasons under the direction of Mark Stoops.

Lamarcus Brutus

2012 Recap: Brutus, a redshirt freshman, played in six games for FSU primarily on special teams and did not register any statistics.

2013 Spring Outlook: Another young, versatile defensive back, Brutus will get the chance to show Pruitt what he can do at the safety position when he begins his second spring with the Seminoles.

Ronald Darby

2012 Recap: Darby didn't start a single game but that didn't stop the former five-star recruit from capturing ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Darby finished his freshman campaign with 22 tackles, eight pass breakups, eight passes defended, one quarterback hurry and a forced fumbles while playing in all 14 games.

2013 Spring Outlook: With Xavier Rhodes off to the NFL, Darby could see his playing time skyrocket even more this year and he could line up at a starting cornerback spot when practices begin. He is, however, coming off minor surgery in mid-January that could play a factor in how much he participates during the spring. His spring football status has not yet been announced.

Gerald Demps

2012 Recap: Demps played in 12 games primarily on special teams where he posted seven total tackles.

2013 Spring Outlook: Like Bright, Demps provides the Seminoles with veteran depth on the backend of the secondary at the safety spot.

Tyler Hunter

2012 Recap: Hunter generated a buzz in preseason camp and continued it during the season. He played in all 14 games as a nickel cornerback and second-string safety and finished with 26 tackles (the third most among defensive backs), two pass breakups, five passes defended and a fumble recovery. He also tied Rhodes for the team lead with three interceptions. Hunter was also a factor on special teams as he returned eight punts for 126 yards and one touchdown.

2013 Spring Outlook: The junior will enter camp with the opportunity to show Pruitt what he can do in the secondary and whether that's at safety or at cornerback will be determined by his new position coach.


Lamarcus Joyner


Lamarcus Joyner

2012 Recap: One of FSU's top players, Joyner tied for the lead among all defensive backs with 51 combined total tackles in 14 games while adding 1 1/2 tackles for loss, one interception, five pass breakups and six passes defended. He also led the team with 18 total kickoffs that generated a combined 424 yards.

2013 Spring Outlook: Joyner flirted with the idea of entering the NFL Draft a season early before ultimately deciding to return for one more season at FSU. His return is huge for a Seminoles team that lost a lot of playmaking ability on that side of the ball when Bjoern Werner, Vince Williams, Brandon Jenkins, Cornellius Carradine and Rhodes all left for the league. In his final spring in Tallahassee, Joyner will have to adapt to a new position coach and a new philosophy on defense. While the development of the Seminoles' young defensive backs will be critical, it will also be interesting to see how a proven veteran like Joyner responds to new coaching. Another storyline to watch will be at kick return where wide receiver Marvin Bracy -- perhaps college football's fastest player -- will be infused into the return game after his redshirt year in 2012. Whether his addition takes repetitions from Joyner or Karlos Williams may be determined this spring.

Keelin Smith

2012 Recap: Smith played in 12 of FSU's 14 games and contributed with nine tackles and a half tackle for loss as a reserve cornerback and special teams player.

2013 Spring Outlook: Last spring, Smith saw himself starting at cornerback through much of the off-season practices while Rhodes rehabilitated an injury. This year, he'll once again have an opportunity to push for a starting gig on the outside where he uses his long frame to cover wide receivers.

Nick Waisome

2012 Recap: Perhaps the biggest defensive surprise of the 2012 season was the play of Waisome. Not that he wasn't talented enough to play and start in all 14 games, register 21 tackles, one interception, seven pass breakups and eight passes defended but the manner in which he seamlessly stepped in for Greg Reid was a key part of why FSU's secondary was so good. Waisome was an unknown commodity entering his sophomore season but took the challenge of being a new starter at cornerback and made the most of it.

2013 Spring Outlook: Waisome will enter spring practices atop the depth chart where he will compete against a bunch of young defensive backs aimed at taking his spot. This will be Waisome's third spring in Tallahassee after enrolling early as a true freshman and each year he has shown tremendous gains in his game -- a trend that should continue this year as well.


Karlos Williams


Karlos Williams

2012 Recap: Williams played in all 14 games his sophomore season as a second-string safety and kick returner. On special teams, he took back 13 total kicks for a combined 340 yards that generate a team-best 26.2 yards-per-return average. Defensively, the former five-star recruit posted 32 tackles (good enough for second among defensive backs), one tackle for loss, two pass breakups, three passes defended and one interception.

2013 Spring Outlook: Position-change questions seem to follow Williams every year and that's no different this time around. Before last season there was talk that he may move to offense -- a switch that even Williams said he considered -- and this time, the question is about linebacker. After starring at the position in the ACC Championship Game because of an injury to Nick Moody, Williams fielded questions about the possibility of a permanent switch prior to the 'Noles' Orange Bowl appearance and said that he'll do whatever he can to help the team. That decision ultimately comes down to Pruitt but it seems more than likely that Williams will at least start spring practices competing at safety. As for kick returns, he continues to be a potential touchdown threat every time he fields the kick and that shouldn't change this spring.

P.J. Williams

2012 Recap: P.J. Williams played in 13 of 14 games as a true freshman in a special teams role and in mop-up duty on defense. He finished the year with 14 tackles, a tackle for loss, one pass breakup and a pass defended. 

2013 Spring Outlook: At 6-feet tall, 190 pounds and versatile, P.J. Williams could be a factor at multiple positions in the secondary entering his first spring in Tallahassee after playing cornerback as a true freshman. P.J. Williams worked some in the return game during fall camp last year and could have his number called for that group come spring practice as well.

RUNNING BACKS

Chad Abram

2012 Recap: A converted safety, Abram's first season on the offensive side of the ball saw him play in 12 games and rush four times for 20 yards while playing behind Lonnie Pryor and Debrale Smiley.

2013 Spring Outlook: Pryor and Smiley have graduated so Abram enters the most important spring practice of his career at FSU as the only fullback on the roster. The senior will have the opportunity to show coaches Fisher and Sanders that he can handle the versatile role of running, blocking and receiving that Pryor perfected the last several years.

Devonta Freeman

2012 Recap: A part-time starter in each of his first two seasons at FSU, Freeman was second on the team in 2012 with 660 rushing yards while finishing tied for second on the team with eight rushing scores.

2013 Spring Outlook: Without Chris Thompson on the roster, Freeman's ability to carry the football and his health become that much more important as he enters his third spring after enrolling early as a freshman a few years ago. As has been the case since he got here, Freeman will be in competition with James Wilder, Jr. for playing time -- and this year, a starting job.


Mario Pender


Mario Pender

2012 Recap: Pender redshirted as a true freshman after having minor surgery in the pre-season.

2013 Spring Outlook: As one of just three scholarship tailbacks on the roster, Pender will get a bevy of carries in his second spring after he too enrolled early. Last spring, Pender showed flashes of why he was so highly regarded coming out of high school and he'll be expected to do the same this year. Pender will be given every opportunity to push for a starting spot despite the presence of two upperclassmen ahead of him on the spring depth chart.

James Wilder, Jr.

2012 Recap: Wilder, Jr. became a scoring machine as a sophomore, rushing for a team-high 11 rushing touchdowns. He finished the year third on the team with 635 yards rushing and 5.8 yards-per-carry average.

2013 Spring Outlook: The bruising junior will be in a head-to-head competition with Freeman for the starting running back job from the moment spring practices begin. Without Pryor, Wilder, Jr.'s short-yardage ability will be in even more demand, too, as he will continue to help fill that role as FSU's go-to guy in those type of situations.


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