This is the 25th in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 33 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.
Jacobbi McDaniel | 6'1, 292 | SR | Defensive Tackle
Background (Courtesy school bio)
Regarded as one of the top high school players in the entire nation...ESPN and Sporting News rated him No. 5 prospect overall and No. 1 defensive tackle...a five-star prospect who earned USA Today first team All-American honors and was an Under Armour All-American...registered 22 sacks over his final two seasons at Madison County High...had 30 tackles for loss in leading his team to the 2A state title in 2007...a three-sport athlete who also played basketball and starred on the baseball diamond...batted .589 with 13 homers as a senior and was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 33rd round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft...chose FSU over Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Clemson...born October 8, 1989.
Career To Date
Entering last season, I wrote...
Jacobbi McDaniel entered Florida State as one of the most heralded defensive tackle prospects in its history. Out of Madison County, McDaniel was rated a 5-star recruit by all of the services and was generally considered one of the two best defensive tackle recruits in the country. At 6'0" 270, he used his quickness to dominate his opponents at the high school level.
Unfortunately, things have not always come easy for McDaniel at Florida State. FSU needed a lot of help immediately during his freshman year, and McDaniel put on a lot of weight before the season, but much of it was bad weight and he did not have the same quickness he showed as a recruit. Then he suffered knee and elbow injuries. McDaniel should not have played as a freshman and instead should have been placed in an aggressive strength program that would have allowed him to put on good muscle weight at a reasonable pace. But this was 2009, the program was a complete mess, and he was one of the better options.
He played better last year, though was again slowed by injury to his groin and elbow. He sat out this spring recovering from a much-needed surgery on his groin. McDaniel might not have turned into the physical freak many expected him to be, but he is a dedicated player and at 6'0" and 300 pounds, he is still talented enough to be a very good player for the ‘Noles.
In 2011, McDaniel was playing as well as any defensive lineman for Florida State entering the Duke game. He was staying low, using some quickness and power, and going all-out. Then he (and there are varying reports on the exact injury) disclocated his ankle. That's an incredibly nasty injury, particularly for a 300-pound man.
At the time, I wrote...
I'll say it again, but your heart goes out to Jacobbi McDaniel. He was playing very well and had earned the starting job before dislocating and breaking his ankle. I will note that while I don't anticipate him needing to sit out 2012, he does have a red-shirt option available for that year. McDaniel has played through a lot of injuries during his time at FSU and he was badly misused by the previous coaching staff because FSU had no depth.
McDaniel missed spring, as expected, and has continued to rehab. I floated the idea of him red-shirting eight months ago, and was told "no way" by a trusted source at Florida State. I didn't forget about the idea, but did shelve any front-page stories suggesting as much.
But what do we have here?
Yep, it's the official website of the school floating the idea of McDaniel redshirting!
Rehabilitation has gone well for the former five-star recruit but he "is not quite all the way back," Fisher said.
The FSU coaches will monitor McDaniel's health throughout fall camp and into the early part of the season knowing that he is eligible to redshirt in 2012 if needed.
"He's open to it. I've talked to him about it and we've had that discussion," Fisher said about a potential McDaniel redshirt. "We are not planning on it but if that's what happens that's what happens. It has nothing to do with him or I. It's a physical stature where he's at with his recovery. I think it will be only fair to him because I think he has a chance to play at the next level.
"He's a great teammate and a great player."
If McDaniel isn't able to play this season, FSU still boasts impressive depth -- particularly of the veteran variety.
That's the head man, Jimbo Fisher, openly discussing the option of a redshirt. Hmm. I hope he isn't blowing smoke about McDaniel's openness to taking the redshirt.
It's a really good idea. Consider the depth Florida State has at the defensive tackle position this season aside from McDaniel:
RS-SR SR E. Dawkins (DT)
RS-SR A. McCloud (DT)
RS-JR D. McAllister (DT)
SO T. Jernigan (DT)
RS-FR N. Lawrence (DT)
RS-FR D. Mitchell (DT)
FR J.Shanks (DT)
FR E. Goldman (DT)
RS-SR M. McCray (DT) (Emergency use only?)
That's a five-star, seven four-stars and a three-star (and yes, I know recruiting rankings matter less the further along the player is in his college career).
My point is that Florida State can easily 1700 snaps from that group of nine defensive tackles (less than 1300 when you factor in garbage time, and yes, I am calculating these on a 14-game assumption). The 'Noles don't need a 70-percent McDaniel.
I'm of the belief that even if McDaniel is healthy, FSU should still sit him down and insist that he redshirt. It benefits both parties.
The benefit to McDaniel is obvious. Even if he is completely healthy, there is no way he'll be able to play at the level he was playing in 2011. I'm not a doctor, but common sense tells me that the muscles in his leg absolutely atrophied. He can't be the same guy in 2012 that he was in 2011.
But in 2013, with a 2012 spent easing his way back into the game while he lifts his butt off... that could work.
The benefit for FSU should be obvious, but I'll spell it out anyway: Florida State loses both starters in Dawkins and McCloud after this season. Having a player like McDaniel vying for a starting job, even if he doesn't win one and plays a bunch of snaps as a reserve, will be very helpful for a defense that could lose as many as 10 players to the NFL after 2012. And that's without even mentioning the leadership he would bring as a 24-year old senior.
In my mind, there is no doubt that a 2013 Jacobbi McDaniel is considerably more valuable to the program and to himself than the potential 2012 version. I hope that this season, Florida State gives McDaniel the redshirt he needed back in 2009.
More importantly than FSU's willingness to put McDaniel on the shelf is McDaniel's own judgment.
Often, players overestimate their ability coming off an injury. Progress is achieved in rehab and the player confuses feeling much stronger than a month or two ago with being strong relative to his competition. McDaniel needs to realize that the chance of him playing well enough this year to earn the playing time needed to get drafted is extremely slim. Florida State needs to help him see the reality of his situation.
His ankle injury was extremely serious. In turn, he must take a serious, thoughtful approach to his career and not be shortsighted. I think the redshirt is it.