March 15, 2013
The Florida State football team starts spring practice March 20 and Seminoles.com has you covered with daily looks at each position on the roster. Today's glance is at the linebackers.
With Vince Williams and Nick Moody now preparing for the NFL Draft, Florida State enters spring practices with just a handful of returning players on the roster at linebacker. With early-enrollee freshman Freddie Stevenson officially in the fold, the number of scholarship athletes under the direction of new assistant coach Charles Kelly sits at seven so depth is a bit of a concern.
The other question mark surrounds the starting spot at strongside linebacker left vacant by Moody's graduation. While Telvin Smith's "1b" role as starter at middle linebacker is now undisputed starter as he slides into a full-time role at "Mike", who takes hold of the "Sam" still has to be determined.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher praised rising redshirt sophomore Terrance Smith's potential multiple times last season when the Decatur, Ga. native was playing sparingly in a special teams and reserve linebacker role and could potentially begin practices atop the depth chart. True sophomore Reggie Northrup could also throw his hat into the ring after earning some rookie-year playing time in 2012 as well.
Redshirt junior Nigel Terrell is one of only three upperclassmen linebackers on the team and could see an increased role, too.
Another interesting storyline this spring will be to watch how Kelly and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt use redshirt freshman Ukeme Eligwe. The 6-foot-2, 231-pounder could play in the middle or on the outside in Florida State's defensive scheme and was known for his supreme athleticism coming out of Stone Mountain High School in Georgia last year. Eligwe probably would have played some last year had he not sustained an injury in the pre-season.
Stevenson could also find a niche on the depth chart and has already generated approval from Fisher for his work ethic in both class and off-season workouts in his first 2 1/2 months on campus.
Of course, last but not least is Christian Jones. FSU's undisputed linebacker leader flirted with the idea of an early exit to the NFL before ultimately deciding to play one more year for the 'Noles. That decision could prove to be a lucrative one as Jones could see his NFL stock -- like that of his potential defensive impact -- rise.
Jones' sideline-to-sideline speed, instincts and potential All-American play has always been evident. Can Kelly get the most out of him and take his ability to the next level? This spring will provide an early look at that potential.