This is the eight in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 50 days until FSU football, and that's how many are left on the list. That means no off days. Oh, and these are not in any specific order.
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine | 6'5, 265 | RS Senior | Defensive End
Enrolled early in January 2011 at Florida State...one of the nation's top overall prospects out of junior college (No. 1 by Rivals.com; No. 5 by Scout.com) and the No. 1 JUCO defensive end prospect...four-star recruit according to Rivals.com and five-star recruit according to Scout.com...rated a five-star recruit by 247Sports...No. 1 on the SuperPrep JUCO 100...racked up 26 sacks in his two years at Butler Community College, including 16 in 2010, which led the NJCAA...named 2010 First Team NJCAA All-American...led team to a final No. 2 ranking in the NJCAA and an appearance in the NJCAA National title game as Butler finished its season 11-1 while also winning the Jayhawk Conference and Region VI championships...an All-Jayhawk Conference First Team selection...Region VI Defensive Player of the Year...as a sophomore, led his team with 119 tackles including 29 for a loss and 16 sacks...also forced three fumbles, recovered five others and recorded 15 quarterback hurries and a pass breakup...his 29 tackles for loss rank fourth in a single season...started every game at weakside defensive end as a freshman in 2009 and led the Grizzlies with 90 tackles...finished second on the team with 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks...regarded as one of the top prospects in the Midwest prior to signing a letter of intent with Illinois out of high school...picked Florida State from a wide array of offers including Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia. -- Seminoles.com Bio
The Countdown57: Cason Beatty, Punter
56: Terrence Brooks, Safety
55: Dan Hicks, Tight Ends
54: Clint Trickett, Quarterback
53: Rashad Greene, Receiver
52: Austin Barron, Center
51: Everett Dawkins, Defensive Tackle
50: Tank Carradine, Defensive End
Tank Carradine came out of high school at 6'4 and 205 pounds. Two years later, he showed up in Tallahassee as the No. 1 JUCO defensive end recruit at 255+ pounds. A decent safety recruit to a dominant defensive end. For as good as the recruiting rankings are, and they get better every year, it's not an exact science. Particularly not when it comes to growth.
Despite numerous JUCO prospects prospering in Tallahassee over the last two decades, FSU fans have a negative attitude toward JUCO recruits, likely because a decent number have busted.
Tank Carradine wasn't one of those players. At all. In 2011, Carradine was quite simply the best non-starting defensive end in America. This spring, we wrote:
Tank was rated the top JUCO defensive end before signing with FSU and came in with high expectations. He started the 2011 season as Werner's backup and appeared to struggle with adjusting to the speed of the game. That adjustment took approximately four games and starting with the Clemson game he was consistently good. Toward the end of the season, particularly against Florida, he really started to shine. He logged 239 meaningful snaps last year (33.5%) and the vast majority came at the strong side. The measurables (speed, size, strength, etc.) are off the charts with Tank and NFL scouts will likely be watching him closely in 2012. The only problem will be allocating playing time at two positions, between three terrific players.
FSU is in the conversation with Texas for the best defensive end pair nationally. There is absolutely no debate, however, over the team with the best trio. It's FSU. I estimate Carradine would start for roughly 120 of the 124 D1 teams.
But in Tallahassee, he won't. At least not in the sense that a starter plays the first play of the game.
He does, however, have a chance to play just as many meaningful snaps as Brandon Jenkins or Bjoern Werner, which would mean playing 100+ more snaps than he saw last year in meaningful time (239 in '11).
Carradine has exceptional closing speed in the open field, and he is very strong. If he can improve his getoff and timing of the snap, look out. As noted in spring, Carradine really improved as the year wore on.
There are some who believe Carradine is Florida State's best NFL draft prospect on the defensive line, due to his freakish athleticism at 265 pounds (he looks bigger than that, by the way).