Florida State football kicks off on Labor Day at Pitt. Tomahawk Nation previews the season up until that date by analyzing every key player and issue facing the 2013 Seminoles.
#97 Demonte McAllister | RS-Sr. | Defensive Tackle | 6'2 298
Played defensive end at Alonso High School, where he earned a four-star rating...selected to play in the Under Armour All-American game...in two seasons recorded nearly 50 tackles for loss and 30 sacks...earned MVP honors for his performance in the Hillsborough County East vs. West All-Star game after recording two sacks...outstanding athlete who played basketball as a junior...the oldest of four children raised by his mother Katina Daniels...received 27 scholarship offers and chose FSU over Georgia, USC, Miami, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and Clemson...born February 23, 1990.
Demonte McAllister came to Florida State as a heralded recruit. While he played defensive end in high school, McAllister projected to be a defensive tackle in Florida State's 4-3 defenses under Mickey Andrews and Mark Stoops. His profile was boosted by the rumor of Pete Carroll's declaration that McAllister was "the best high school 3-techniques [Carroll] had ever seen".
McAllister spent most of his early career battling injury and maturity issues. After redshirting as a freshman while learning the defensive tackle position, he played a solid but minimal role in 2010 as a backup. In 2011, he was the third string 3-tech, playing behind Cam Erving. McAllister also took snaps at nose tackle and defensive end in 2011, as Stoops tried to find a way to get the pass rushing talent on the field.
Erving's move to offense freed up a spot on the 2-deep 3-technique defensive tackle position for 2012. McAllister took advantage of his opportunity and made an impact. He was a very productive player and a strong pass rusher, leading in sacks among interior linemen. Backing up NFL draft selection Everett Dawkins, McAllister played a healthy amount of snaps in 2012.
If Mark Stoops were still the defensive coordinator at Florida State, McAllister's role would be clear. He would be the starter at the 3-technique defensive tackle position. He would likely play just that position, and rotate with backups to keep fresh legs. But Stoops no longer runs the Florida State defense.
Jeremy Pruitt and Jimbo Fisher publicly maintain that Pruitt's defense will be very similar to Stoops' in design and personnel, but practice observations and player interviews indicate this is a white lie. The increased blitzing is a change Stoops would have made himself, due to the departure of three premium pass rushing defensive ends.
Pruitt's changes are likely to be shown more in the defensive fronts. Stoops ran a fairly rigid four man front in 2012 - interior defensive linemen being 1-technique nose tackle and a 3-technique defensive tackle, with the exception of a few pass rushing packages. Pruitt showed exclusively four man fronts in the spring game in his intentionally vanilla debut.
The defensive fronts Florida State runs will echo a buzz word Jimbo likes to use - "multiple". The Pruitt and Saban systems value being able to change fronts to confuse quarterbacks and offensive lines. When you can line up in a four man front, then stand up an end and shift your line before the snap, you can cause mass confusion. A focus of the current defensive staff's recruiting, having personnel who can effectively play multiple positions is valuable to Florida State.
Demonte McAllister is one of these players. As a recruit, he was projected by services as a strong side defensive end, a player who could play the 5-technique 3-4 defensive end position. After four years as a 3-technique 4-3 defensive tackle, his role will expand and include the 5-tech DE spot in 3 man fronts. Practice reports from fall camp indicate McAllister is playing both roles.
While the increased versatility and multiplicity are goals of the new defense, the reality is that the inexperience at defensive end is the main driver towards more 3 man fronts. Having players like McAllister will aid Pruitt in scheming around the relative weak spot at DE. The versatility of players like McAllister and OLB/DE Christian Jones will help the defense move between 3 and 4 defensive lineman fronts.
McAllister was a key contributor in 2012, so the transition to full time starter won't be a large adjustment in terms of additional snaps. McAllister is physically prepared to play the 5-technique role in the 2013 defense. This is his final year of eligibility, and his last chance to prove his value to NFL teams. Former NFL Draft Scout and Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage has placed McAllister on his watch list for the Senior Bowl. Gil Brandt listed him 16th on his top 100 seniors to watch for the 2014 NFL Draft.
McAllister finished his 2012 season strong, having some of his best football in the last 5 games of the year. He was a better pass rusher than Everett Dawkins in 2012, while being similarly effective against the run. Despite losing starters Dawkins and Amp McCloud from the defensive front, the interior defensive line could have better starters in 2013 with McAllister and Timmy Jernigan. If McAllister can capitalize on his opportunity as a starter on one of the most talented defensive fronts in college football, McAllister can help the 2013 Florida State defense live up to high expectations on his way to playing on Sundays.