This is the 21st in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 37 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.
Anthony McCloud | 6'2, 322 | RS-SR | Defensive Tackle
Background (Courtesy school bio)
Signed with FSU as a member of the 2008 class...as a freshman defensive tackle at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College in 2008, registered 24 tackles (20 solos) with 5.5 tackles for loss, including four sacks...the Indians ranked sixth nationally in rushing defense (86.7 ypg), despite a 3-6 finish...sat out the 2009 season as a redshirt...ranked as the nation's No. 78 prospect by Allen Wallace among SuperPrep JUCO 100...Thomasville Times-Enterprise's Defensive Player of the Year for 2007...his Thomas County Central team won its first 13 games in 2007 before losing in the class AAAA semifinal...born August 6, 1989.
McCloud was the lesser heralded of the 'Thomas County (Ga.) Central High by way of Itawamba (Ms.) CC" duo. But despite Debrale Smiley getting far more publicity than McCloud, AMP (I'm typing his name in CAPS because he is huge) has been the far more valuable addition.
Anthony "Amp" McCloud weighs north of 320 pounds and will be 23 years old when the season starts. He plays against kids who are 19, 20, 21 and 22. Rarely are his opponents as old as he is.
McCloud is quite good at what he does, which, as the nose guard, is primarily occupying a patch of land and not be moved from it. He's physically mature, understands his role, and doesn't try to do things which are not asked of him.
He offers very little in terms or pursuit or in terms of pass rush. At least not compared to FSU's other linemen.
And that's just fine. FSU is very happy to have McCloud and the 'Noles haven't had a 'space eater' like him in quite some time.
McCloud was the first tangible evidence that Fisher was true to his promise of upgrading defensive line size, transferring from JUCO to join Moses McCray as the team's sole 300 pound club members in 2010. He provided the big body anchor to help immediately shore up a wretched run defense and he has performed that service quite well. There's an old saying that I'm about to make up right now; If nobody notices your nose tackle, he's probably doing a good job. His name doesn't get called often and you won't find many highlight reel plays where he's the center of attention, but he does his job by holding the point of attack and absorbing blockers. Amp is better in run support than pass rush and as such is often replaced in long yardage situations in favor of more athletic players. He trailed only Dawkins in 2011 interior lineman playing time, logging 306 meaningful game time snaps (43% of team total). He plays almost exclusively at nose tackle, but has been used at defensive tackle in heavy set, short yardage situations. He plays with good leverage and power and rarely gets out of position either by his own mistake or blocker influence. The term starter is somewhat irrelevant at his position. But if you insist on traditional nomenclature, consider him the starter going into his final season in garnet and gold.
Maturity is a big theme on the FSU defensive line this year.
McCloud will play the year at 23. Carradine will be 23. Jenkins will be 22. Werner at 22. Dawkins at 22. McDaniel will be 23. McCray, if you want to count him, will be 22.
There's a serious "men against boys" thing going on here, and McCloud looks and acts like the old man of the bunch.
McCloud improved a good bit in 2011 after really coming on strong at the end of 2010. But if McCloud doesn't get any better in 2012 and just plays at his 2011 level while staying healthy (he has battled a knee issue in the past), FSU will be thrilled.
Oh, and just because Jimbo Fisher banned the players from Twitter, doesn't mean he can ban me from using their tweets from the past. This is from Nick Moody, reporting on McCloud's gustatory prowess at the hotel for the bowl game. It's 212 days old and every bit as awesome. The Snickers were free, and this reminds me a lot of the Forrest Gump "and since they was free, I must have drank about 27 Dr. Peppers" scene.
@TomahawkNation full sized lol. He ate all back to back too— 1⃣Nick Moody0⃣ (@NickMoody10) December 28, 2011
Each team still gets 11 players. If it takes two offensive players to block one Amp McCloud, that means the 'Noles have 10 defenders to account for the remaining 9 offensive guys. And Mark Stoops will take those odds.
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PHOTO: Joe Robbins, Getty Images