A reason to call him Mister
Florida State senior linebacker Mister Alexander has spent much of his career battling injuries while jockeying between the safety and outside linebacker positions. But a breakthrough 2009 campaign as a reserve linebacker has opened the door for him to open 2010 as the starting strongside linebacker. Alexander finished the '09 season with only 17 tackles, but he made the most of them. The Aldine, Texas native is FSU's top returner with five quarterback sacks and ranks third among returnees with six tackles for loss; numbers which should improve dramatically with more playing time for one of the Seminoles most athletic players.
Bradham-Smith pile up stops
Veteran linebackers Nigel Bradham and Kendall Smith form one of the most productive tackling tandems in the Atlantic Coast Conference. As a sophomore, Bradham led the Semioles with 93 stops on the season (61 solos), followed by Smith, who closed his junior season with 85 (45 solos). That's a whopping 178 combined stops for the top two tacklers from last season. In FSU's new defensive scheme, they are expected to be even more productive from their weakside and middle linebacker positions, respectively.
Fresh faces all around
Florida State may have a brand new defensive coordinator and two new defensive assistants, but it isn't just the coaching staff that boasts a lot of fresh faces. The Seminoles enter the first game of the year against Samford with a two-deep defensive roster that features 11 student-athletes that did not play for FSU last year. Included in that list is backup sophomore middle linebacker Vince Williams, who is making his return after a back injury forced a medical redshirt in 2009. Junior college transfers Mike Harris and Anthony McCloud find themselves as backups at field corner and nose guard, respectively. Eight of the 11 new faces are freshmen.
Familiar name, not-so-familiar spot
Fifth-year senior Ochuko Jenije has appeared in 37 games over the course of his FSU career, but when the Tallahassee native takes the field in the opener things will be quite different. That's because Jenije, who has played cornerback his entire career and started all 13 games at that position a year ago, will line up at free safety against Samford. Jenije has worked throughout the offseason at both defensive back positions and impressed the coaches enough to be penciled into the first team at free safety, ahead of Nick Moody and Justin Bright.
What a difference a year makes
Take a look at Florida State's two-deep defensive depth chart for the 2009 season opener against Miami and you won't see many similarities to this year's version of the opening game. Only middle linebacker Kendall Smith, weakside linebacker Nigel Bradham, defensive end Markus White and free safety Ochuko Jenije are returning starters, and White (from right defensive end to left defensive end) and Jenije (from cornerback to free safety) are at different positions.
Dawkins: A household name?
Blessed with fantastic athletic ability and a motor that never quits, there have been high hopes for defensive lineman Everett Dawkins ever since he came to Tallahassee from his home state of South Carolina. Now in his third year as a redshirt sophomore, Dawkins may finally be ready and in position to make a serious impact on the defensive front. That's because No. 93 has bulked up to 285 pounds and after bouncing around between end and tackle appears to be set in his new position in the middle at defensive tackle. As a redshirt freshman last year, Dawkins registered 14 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
New year, new hope for consistency
A combination of struggles and injuries prevented FSU from having much consistency on defense last year, and Seminole coaches hope to change that in 2010. Last season, Florida State had only three defensive players that started all 13 games.