This is the 28th in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 30 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.
Bjoern Werner | 6'4", 273 | Junior | Defensive End
Background (Courtesy school bio)
German exchange student who played only two years of high school football in the United States...was a four-star prospect by Scout.com...had a three-star ranking from Rivals, which ranked him as the No. 65 defensive end nationally and the No. 6 prospect in Connecticut...No. 24 defensive end prospect according to ESPN...high school teammate of FSU tight end Will Tye...as a senior logged 57 tackles in seven games with three sacks, four forced fumbles and two blocked field goals...also caught 10 passes for 98 yards from the tight end position...played at home for Berlin Adler national team as a junior...as a sophomore at the Salisbury School, had 54 tackles, including 24 for losses, 12 sacks and two fumble recoveries in just eight games...was married over 2010 spring break to his wife Denise...whittled lengthy list of offers to two, selecting FSU over Oregon...born August 30, 1990. (Courtesy School Bio)
Career to Date
German native Bjoern Werner came to Florida State in 2010 as a three- or four-star prospect (depending on the service) out of Connecticut, selecting FSU over the likes of Oregon and NC State, among others. Because he only played two years of high school ball in the States before becoming a Seminole, Werner was incredibly raw upon arrival in Tallahassee. That didn't stop him from making an impact early on for the 'Noles on the strong side, as he played in all 14 games his freshman year and registered six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks for an FSU defense that led the nation in that department.
As a sophomore in 2011, Werner showed great improvement in the technical aspects of the position (pad level, balance, football IQ, etc., as DKN noted this past spring) and combined that development with his already stellar strength, athleticism and V8 motor to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
Working opposite fellow stud and All-ACC end Brandon Jenkins, Werner racked up 11 TFL and seven sacks last season while showcasing his versatility with nine passes defended, including a leaping interception against Boston College that your average DE doesn't come up with. He also managed to find the end zone in Death Valley when he took a Tajh Boyd fumbleception off a whiffed throw 25 yards for a score. He capped the year with a sack against Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl that helped the Seminole D lift a struggling offense to victory.
All of this came while fighting through some egregious holds from opposing linemen that weren't often acknowledged by ACC officiating crews.
Although he missed spring ball due to shoulder surgery, Werner enters the 2012 season poised to blitzkrieg offensive tackles once again. If he has the type of season that he's expected to, he may very well be playing on Sundays in 2013 instead of finishing off his senior year in Garnet and Gold.
Bjoern was second among defensive linemen in total plays in 2011 (trailing only Jenkins), and was a major play-maker for Mark Stoops' elite defense against the pass and the run. His ability to routinely abuse offensive tackles makes it extremely difficult for teams to scheme against FSU's d-line because he and Jenkins are both the type of players who require double team blocks (along with several of FSU's d-tackles). Outside of Texas' duo of Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor, you'd be hard pressed to find a pair of ends in the nation that even comes close to matching FSU's one-two punch off the edge. Factoring in Tank Carradine, the three-deep for FSU is untouchable.
Although he hasn't garnered the media recognition that he deserves due to the amount of talent spread across the line, Werner may be the most NFL-ready prospect on the FSU defense. And on a unit as stacked as this one, that's a compliment of the highest regard.
Expect to hear Bjoern Werner's name quite a bit, as he should be a regular presence in opposing backfields. (It is my personal hope that we can cue up some Rammstein in Doak Campbell every time Werner gets to the QB). He should once again be a big piece of an FSU defense that figures to be one of the best--if not the best--in the country.
Fans should hope that FSU's highly touted newcomers Mario Edwards, Jr. and Chris Casher are as good as advertised, because (barring injury) Werner might not be back come 2013.