Aug 27, 2013
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It won’t make the same amount of national noise as Jameis Winston’s appointment to starting quarterback, but the starting 11 for the Florida State defense revealed in today’s official two-deep depth chart release is pretty darn interesting.
Especially if you’ve been following along since Jeremy Pruitt began installing his new-look schemes in Tallahassee this past spring.
We knew there would be some surprises with so many moving parts on a defense that has switched from Mark Stoops’ standard 4-3 scheme to the more multiple-style of attack that Pruitt learned under the tutelage of the master himself, Nick Saban. While Stoops’ defense was consistently one of the best in the nation with traditional definitions of its personnel, Pruitt’s influence has certainly shaken things up.
Let’s start on the defensive line, where there is no surprise that Timmy Jernigan enters his junior year as the starter at nose guard. It’s at this position where Jernigan, who has just two career starts but has played starter’s numbers of snaps the last two years, will be expected to draw double teams and free up his teammates to get into the backfield. Jernigan is backed up by Jacobbi McDaniel, who missed all of last season while recuperating from a 2011 ankle injury.
Alongside Jernigan is the defensive tackle position, where redshirt sophomore Nile Lawrence-Stample would get the first start of his career if the Seminoles’ take the field for the first time in 2013 in a 4-3 formation. Behind Stample is junior-college signee Desmond Hollin. The Miami, Fla. native signed with the ‘Noles as a defensive end but has been utilized on the interior of the line throughout his first camp with the ‘Noles.
At right end, Mario Edwards, Jr. is the starter after concluding the 2012 season at that spot and then maintaining it throughout the spring and into the pre-season. Redshirt freshman Chris Casher and true freshman DeMarcus Walker are listed as “or” options behind Edwards, Jr.
Now here’s where things start to get interesting. Eddie Goldman as a starter isn’t surprising; the former five-star signee has pushed his way up the depth chart since playing 10 games as a reserve last year. But a starter at left end? In this new-look defense, Goldman is penciled in at that spot where he’ll be charged with utilizing his massive size and strength to take on tackles when the Seminoles utilize three down-linemen. Redshirt senior Demonte McAllister is also in this role as the No. 2 at the position.
In the linebacker corps, Christian Jones and Telvin Smith are at the top of the depth chart at the middle and weak-side spots, respectively. True freshmen E.J. Levenberry and Matthew Thomas showed enough over the past few weeks to crack the depth charts as backups to the ‘Noles’ senior defensive leaders. Redshirt junior Terrance Smith is in an “or” situation with the two rookies at both the Mike and Will spots.
Redshirt senior Dan Hicks is the starter the Sam position and redshirt sophomore Ukeme Eligwe is on the second team behind him. Hicks’ listing at Sam is noteworthy because the Oxford, Miss. native is a true defensive end. But in this new scheme, his athletic ability will allow him to pressure the quarterback in the 9-technique or drop back into coverage.
In the secondary where the versatility of this new defense is especially key, senior Lamarcus Joyner is atop the depth at one cornerback spot and sophomore P.J. Williams is in the No. 1 spot on the other side. Joyner’s skills are a known commodity across college football but Williams’ is perhaps one of the biggest risers on the Seminoles’ roster after playing primarily special teams as a rookie in 2012. True freshman Jalen Ramsey figures to see lots of defensive action in his first year as he and Nick Waisome — a 14-game starter a season ago — are listed as “or” behind Joyner. Defending ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Ronald Darby backs up Williams.
In the back end, Terrence Brooks still has a firm grasp of his starting free safety spot and Tyler Hunter, who played nickel back last year and tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, captured the starting nod at strong safety.
Junior Karlos Williams, who was the favorite to land a starting safety gig entering the new season following Joyner’s off-season switch to cornerback, is listed as Brooks’ backup at strong safety. Redshirt sophomore Keelin Smith, who played cornerback his first two seasons at FSU, is Hunter’s backup.
Despite their listings on the second team. both Darby and Karlos Williams should be considered starters for FSU as both will surely play starter’s type of roles with the amount of personnel changes the defense could utilize in 2013.
Karlos Williams is still listed as the starting kick returner alongside Joyner and the dynamic duo is backed up by Kermit Whitfield and Rashad Greene. Kenny Shaw remains the starting punter returner with Greene and Hunter working into the mix behind him.
Cason Beatty is back as the team’s punter and holder after starting all 14 games there as a true freshman last year. Philip Doumar and Roberto Aguayo are first-time starters at deep snapper and kicker, respectively.
Offensively, Greene — the team’s leading receiver in each of his first two seasons — is the starting “X” wide receiver where he is joined by Shaw (“Y”) and Kelvin Benjamin (“Z”) in the first-team receiving corps. Christian Green will spell Shaw in the slot and, because of the combination of the losses of Greg Dent, Willie Haulstead and Jarred Haggins and the fact that they turned heads during fall camp, true freshmen Bobo Wilson and Isaiah Jones will back up Benjamin and Greene, respectively. Whitfield isn’t on the two-deep but he should also see the field quite a bit in his first year.
The star tandem of tailbacks Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr. will split first-team carries behind Winston and walk-on Cameron Ponder will back up starting fullback Chad Abram. At tight end, the top two players are Nick O’Leary and converted defensive end Giorgio Newberry.
The starting offensive line should look familiar as Cameron Erving (left tackle), Josue Matias (left guard), Bryan Stork (center), Tre’ Jackson (right guard) and Bobby Hart (right tackle) boast an impressive 80 combined starts.
On the second-team offensive line, true freshman Wilson Bell did enough in his first camp to become Erving’s understudy while former walk-on Jonathan Wallace backs up Hart on the right side. Jacob Fahrenkrug, who has started 12 games in his career, is the No. 2 left guard and Ruben Carter is in the same spot at right guard. Junior Sterling Lovelady is the second-team center with Austin Barron sidelined with a foot injury.
Stay tuned to Seminoles.com for more news and notes throughout the week leading into Florida State’s Labor Day season-opener at Pittsburgh. In addition to an official game preview story and video, Seminoles.com will also live stream Jimbo Fisher’s game-week press conference at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and a new Doak Insider Podcast will be released Friday.
Chop Talk, an interactive game preview magazine for the Apple iPad, will also make its return later this week and can be downloaded on iTunes.