GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Linebacker Telvin Smith #22 of the Florida State Seminoles breaks through a block of center Jonotthan Harrison #72 to tackle running back Chris Rainey #1 of the Florida Gators November 26, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Telvin Smith is the 60th player profiled in this series looking at the players likely to impact Florida State's season. There are 2 days until FSU football. The list is not in any specific order.
6'3, 215 | Junior | Linebacker
From The Media Guide
Held a four-star ranking from Rivals and a three-star ranking from Scout out of high school...cousin of rising senior, cornerback Greg Reid, who signed out of Lowndes County with the `Noles in 2009 along with safety Gerald Demps...Rivals rated Smith as the No. 18 outside linebacker prospect in the country and No. 22 prospect overall in Georgia...No. 8 outside linebacker nationally by ESPN and No. 107 prospect overall...participated in the GACA North/South All-Star Classic...registered 84 tackles, 25 assists and two interceptions as a senior for the powerhouse Vikings...as a junior logged 97 tackles (16 TFLS) and two interceptions for the state AAAAA champions...SuperPrep Georgia ranked him as the No. 25 player in the state...committed to the Seminoles in July 2009 and reaffirmed that decision by selecting FSU over Georgia and LSU...born April 11, 1991.
2010: True freshman linebacker, who came in and made an immediate impact on special teams especially on kickoff return coverage where he made several big tackles...played in all 14 games and registered 18 tackles, one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss...named one of two Special Teams Newcomers of the Year at the annual football banquet.
2011: Sophomore linebacker who not only thrived on special teams but saw a lot of action at middle linebacker...played in 12 games and started once...posted 42 tackles (28 solo) on the season and 8.5 tackles for loss, which was the fourth-most for FSU...also had three sacks, one interception, three pass break-ups and two fumble recoveries...made his first career start at Wake Forest and tallied a career-best six tackles...had four tackles and two TFLs at Duke...had a career-best two sacks and four tackles versus Maryland...tallied five stops versus NC State...had a fumble recovery and an interception at Boston College...added five tackles and one tackle for loss in the Champs Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame...received one of three Mr. Versatile awards at the team's annual banquet.
Part of the reason I elected not to debut this list in any specific order is to allow myself a chance to save players about whom I had questions for last. Telvin Smith is one of those players, because quite frankly, he was not a lock to play in 2012 due to grades. But he buckled down and made the needed marks. And today is his preview day.
Smith is a fan favorite. He brings great energy to the game. He jumps around and gets the crowd hyped up. And he has good instincts to go with his phenomenal athleticism.
So why hasn't he been the clear starter over Vince Williams, who isn't a special player (Williams is fine, but he's far from a star)?
For all of his playmaking and instincts, Smith has not always been assignment sound (to say the least). He's also not very big, and if an opposing offensive lineman gets his hands on Smith, that's a huge mismatch.
You wonder if Smith would have put on the necessary muscle to take the starting middle linebacker spot from Williams had he not had to focus on getting his academics in order over the summer.
Smith's playing time will increase as the coaches are better able to trust that he will play his assignments and do a better job handling blockers.
Smith will also continue to be excellent on special teams.
The Right Fit
Florida State's defensive staff will have to be selective in how they use Williams and Smith. Williams should clearly be on the field in short yardage and against teams that do not threaten the middle of the field with the pass. Smith should be on the field on passing downs.