March 13, 2012
The Florida State football team starts spring practice March 19 and Seminoles.com has got you covered. In preparation this week we will break down each position on the team with a list of scholarship players lost, returning and added while previewing what to watch for as the Seminoles hit the field in preparation for the 2012 season.
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com Senior Writer
WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS SPRING:
One of Florida State's strengths in 2011 was its defensive line and when spring practices starts Monday, that trend will continue.
Despite the losses of Cameron Erving and Dan Hicks, who both switched to offense this offseason, FSU still boasts impressive depth along its defensive line this spring. And what's scary for future opponents is that the 'Noles are only going to get deeper come fall after highly-touted prospects Mario Edwards, Jr., Eddie Goldman, Justin Shanks and Chris Casher join the team.
But before that quartet of talented youngsters joins the fold and enrolls this summer, the Seminoles will unveil this spring a couple of freshmen that are already on the team.
After redshirting in 2011, defensive tackles Nile Lawrence-Stample and Derrick Mitchell and defensive end Giorgio Newberry, all three will get an opportunity to compete in their first spring practice as 'Noles while also jockeying for position on the depth chart.
With Hicks now at tight end and starter Bjoern Werner out for the spring, Newberry has perhaps the best opportunity to showcase his skills of the three redshirt freshmen as Brandon Jenkins, Cornellius Carradine and Toshmon Stevens are the only returning defensive ends with any playing experience.
A strong spring could help Newberry warrant a spot in the rotation even after Werner returns for the fall and Edwards, Jr. and Casher both join the team.
Everybody knows what Jenkins can do as he gears up for his final season in the garnet and gold and makes a push towards becoming a first-round NFL draft pick in 2013. While Carradine isn't the same recognized commodity as Jenkins, he is coming off a 2011 season -- his first with the Seminoles after starring in the junior-college ranks - that saw him play in all 13 games and finish third on the team with 5 1/2 sacks as Werner's backup.
Without Werner in the lineup, Carradine will get more of an opportunity to display his underrated skills.
As for Stevens, keep an eye on what the redshirt senior does this spring. Head coach Jimbo Fisher announced last month that the athletic and speedy Stevens may be featured more as a pass-rushing linebacker. Could the Seminoles show a few new defensive looks in order to get him on the field and maximize the same talents Stevens uses to punish opposing returners in the special-teams game?
Florida State may have only four healthy scholarship defensive ends but the numbers are much bigger on the interior of the defensive line.
Not counting Jacobbi McDaniel, who will miss spring practice as he continues to rehabilitate the season-ending ankle injury he sustained last season against Duke, FSU has eight healthy scholarship defensive tackles available when practice starts Monday.
All eyes will be on the continued development of rising sophomore Timmy Jernigan, who earned freshman All-American honors last year. The Lake City native burst on to the scene as a rookie and a big spring could put him in the national spotlight for 2012.
Jernigan is just one of three underclassmen at defensive tackle along with Mitchell and Lawrence-Stample for an FSU team that boasts impressive veteran leadership. Of the eight healthy tackles, Anthony McCloud, Moses McCray and Everett Dawkins are all seniors.
Injuries have taken their toll on the former consensus four-star recruit, but can his final year in Tallahassee be the one where McCray finally outruns the injury bug? With Goldman and Shanks coming in for the fall and a deep rotation in the spring, FSU doesn't have depth concerns but a healthy McCray provides veteran leadership and playmaking ability.
There's a reason that he was one of the top defensive tackles in the nation coming out of high school but McCray's health has prevented him from living up to the hype.
He's got one more chance to change that and it starts this spring.