FSU spring practice kicks off March 20 and our Florida State football spring 2013 preview continues with a look at the defensive tackle position, which returns some contributors from an excellent 2012 season. But despite the talent, with an almost entirely new defensive coaching staff comes questions about position.
The goal is, as always, to maximize a player's talent and to get the best possible group on the field. And just because a player may be in a new position does not mean that he was misused by the former staff or is being misused by the new staff.
Florida State must replace both starters in Everett Dawkins and Amp McCloud, both fifth-year seniors. While "starters" is a term used loosely with the defensive tackle position because of how much the players rotate, it is the appropriate term here. FSU is being asked to replace more than 2500 career snaps. While Dawkins and McCloud were not superstars, and did not make a leap in their final year, that still won't be easy.
Lots of talent
Luckily for Florida State, it is loaded with talent including three former five-stars, four former four-stars and a three-star. The group also consists of 10 years of letterman experience (redshirt seasons not counted, obviously), which isn't bad.
Out for spring
McAllister had shoulder surgery on his labrum and will miss spring. He played with the injury for the latter part of the 2012 season.
Who will start? And where?
Jernigan and McAllister are the presumed starters, as they were the No.s 3 and 4 in the 2012 rotation. Goldman and Lawrence-Stample are the presumed top backups, but McDaniel will have something to say about it as well. That's an excellent fivesome, and almost certainly the best in the conference. Red-shirt freshman Justin Shanks is in better shape now that his sleep apnea is diagnosed, and he could provide valuable snaps as well.
But where will they play? Last year Jernigan played nose guard, as did Lawrence-Stample, while McAllister and Goldman played more three-technique. Stoops seemed to prefer the longer players at the three-technique and the quicker players at the nose. Others might prefer the bigger space eaters to line up on the nose, with the quicker penetrators at the three-technique.
While defensive tackle coach Odell Haggins remains, new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt might want all or some of those players to flip around. Nobody knows how he will want them utilized, and ultimately while Haggins is the position coach, the decision rests with the new defensive coordinator.
Regardless of where they play, FSU is in very good shape here to fill the roughly 1600 snaps between the defensive tackle positions.
Back from injury
Florida State welcomes back Jacobbi McDaniel from a nasty lower-leg injury he suffered in 2011 against Duke. McDaniel was playing extremely well at the time, but it is unknown how he will play in 2013. He smartly elected to sit out 2012 and try to regain the muscle he lost after the surgery and long rehab. Early reports from practice are good, however.
Derrick Mitchell also returns after missing 2012 with a back injury. Mitchell has never seen meaningful game action, and there's no way of knowing how well he will play. There's been message board speculation that Mitchell will move to offensive tackle, but as of now that is unconfirmed.
Arriving in June
Remember that new recruit Keith Bryant (6'1, 300, 4-star) won't arrive until summer.