Aug. 2, 2013
One of the magic numbers is 62 1/2 -- as in a combined 62 1/2 times during their respective careers that former Florida State defensive ends>Brandon Jenkins,>Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine sacked an opposing quarterback.
The other magic number is 52 -- as in the combined number of games played by FSU's returning defensive ends for 2013.
The Seminoles don't return a whole lot of experience at either end of its defensive line last year but that doesn't mean a group that includes returning players>Chris Casher,>Mario Edwards, Jr.,>Dan Hicks and>Giorgio Newberry are going to be given a pass. No, they are expected to step in and carry the garnet-and-gold colored torch that the Jenkins-Werner-Carradine trio ignited.
They also may be asked to do even more. New FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and new defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri will expect the defensive ends to rush the passer, sure, but they'll also be expected to sometimes drop into coverage as part of the 'Noles new, complex blitzing schemes.
Hicks is the most experienced of the returners, but he has not played in a game in more than a season. A redshirt senior, Hicks missed all of last season with a knee injury after he had switched to the tight end position in the spring of 2012.
Ironically, Hicks' move to the offensive side of the ball last year was because he wasn't guaranteed much playing time behind the Seminoles' soon-to-be NFL pass rushers. But fast forward a year and those players' absence on the roster makes Hicks one of the team's most indispensable players in 2013 -- especially after a strong return to this position this past spring when he displayed excellent quickness, ball get-off, instincts and playmaking ability this past spring.
While Hicks enters fall camp atop the depth chart at left defensive end, Edwards, Jr. is listed as the starter on the right side.
The former five-star prospect was a likely redshirt candidate to start the season last year before being thrust into action when Jenkins went down with an injury in the first game of the season. Edwards, Jr. then started the last two games of the season in place of Carradine after he had sustained an injury against Florida. No longer an injury replacement, Edwards, Jr. has the opportunity this year to not only live up to the hype that surrounded him coming out of high school, but to become a household name among college football's defensive ends.
Like his position mates, Newberry will be asked to take on the most important role of his career as a redshirt sophomore. Playing sparingly last season, the 6-foot-6, 280-pounder registered 13 tackles and one forced fumble in 13 games. Newberry has all the tools to be a dominant pass rusher and will be expected to become one this year.
As for Casher, he was able to play some snaps as a rookie in the first two games of the season last year but wound up being granted a medical redshirt after sustaining a knee injury. Casher is ultra-talented but hasn't played consistently the last years after having to sit out his entire senior year. Despite missing the 2012 high school season, Casher was still regarded as one of the nation's best prep players at his position because of his size and upside.
Walker actually enrolled at FSU this past January after graduating early but because of an NCAA Clearinghouse issue, was not permitted to practice with his new team and thus missed valuable time that would have given him an even bigger advantage in the battle for playing time. Walker was one of the nation's best at his position as a high schooler, too, and should expect to see some snaps early in his career.
Early playing time should also be there for Hollin, who has two years of eligibility with the 'Noles after playing in the junior-college ranks. FSU coaches are hoping that Hollin can have immediate success like FSU's two previous JUCO signees at defensive end: Carradine and Markus White.
In Bryant, Florida State signed a raw and athletic player with a basketball background. In most years, Bryant would likely be a redshirt candidate as a rookie but the New Smyrna Beach, Fla. native could see early playing time because of the lack of depth the 'Noles have at defensive end.