July 29, 2013
FSU's 2013 football season officially kicks off Tuesday, Aug. 6 when the team holds its first practice of fall camp. In preparation for the start of the new season, Seminoles.com will roll out position-by-position previews daily for the next 10 days. It all got started with yesterday's look at the quarterbacks, and continues today with the defensive tackles, then the running backs (Tues., July 30), linebackers (Wed., July 31), tight ends (Thurs., Aug. 1), defensive ends (Fri., Aug. 2), offensive linemen (Sat., Aug. 3), defensive backs (Sun., Aug. 4), wide receivers (Mon., Aug. 5) and finally special teams (Tues., Aug. 6).
Even though the Seminoles lost key veterans>Everett Dawkins and>Anthony McCloud and their combined 97 games played this off-season, Florida State's depth at defensive tackle is still remarkably strong heading into the 2013 season.
It's also big. Really big.
FSU returns seven scholarship players at the position from last season and introduces one newcomer in rookie>Keith Bryant. Together, those eight 'Noles average a little more than 304 pounds per man and many of them have had the benefit of working out in head strength coach Vic Viloria's weight program for several years.
Timmy Jernigan is the star of the group and returns for his junior season as a player that could see his NFL stock continue to skyrocket. He's only started two games in his career but for the past two seasons Jernigan has played starter's-type snaps. Without McCloud and Dawkins, Jernigan is a virtual lock for a starting gig this year and could see his 76 total tackles and four total sacks in his career dramatically increase.
How often he's double-teamed could have a lot to do with the performance of his fellow former four- and five-star recruits at defensive tackle.
Demonte McAllister could be in line for a starting job despite missing all of spring while rehabbing from off-season surgery. McAllister has quietly been a steadfast contributor during the first four years of his career at FSU and has the chance to also solidify himself as a potential NFL Draft selection with more repetitions and more opportunities.
McAllister is one of two returning redshirt seniors in the heart of the defensive line as he is joined by>Jacobbi McDaniel, who is making his return to action after missing all of last season. McDaniel's leg injury at Duke in 2011 forced him off the field and into a successful rehabilitation program that has him healthy and ready to provide a spark to Odell Haggins' group. A successful return by McDaniel helps provide the 'Noles with something they are now missing without McCloud: gap control.
While Jernigan, McDaniel and McAllister are all proven players with a bevy of snaps under their belts, the rest of the defensive tackles depth chart isn't nearly as experienced even if they boast impressive talent, size and strength.
Rising sophomore>Eddie Goldman, who is a former five-star recruit, should get more playing time after playing in 10 games as a true freshman a year ago and could potentially even challenge for a starting job. Bid-bodied linemen>Justin Shanks and>Nile Lawrence-Stample also provide fantastic depth and good enough skills to push for a spot at the top of the depth chart.
Derrick Mitchell is entering his third fall in Tallahassee but he is healthy for the first time and should be considered a legitimate breakout candidate for the 'Noles in 2013. Bryant, yet another talented youngster, could also potentially see playing time despite the depth at defensive tackle since Haggins loves to rotate his players and keep them as fresh as possible.