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Florida State football: Replacing Timmy Jernigan

Tomahawk Nation is previewing the Florida State Seminoles 2014 season with a series of roundtable responses. Our authors chimed in on questions that piqued their interest.

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Nile Lawrence-Stample (6'1, 314, RJr.) is the heir apparent to NFL-draftee Timmy Jernigan's nose position. What do you think of his prospects?

Here's Lawrence's bio from the media guide.

2013: Started at defensive tackle next to All-American Timmy Jernigan...made six starts this season including versus Florida and Duke...played in 13 games...set career-bests for tackles (15) and TFL (1.5)...made his first career start at Pitt on Sept. 2...recorded a season-high three tackles at Boston College on Sept. 28...tied a season high with three tackles – including 1.0 TFL – against Maryland…had one tackle versus Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game…key member of nation’s No. 1 scoring defense (12.1 ppg), third-ranked total defense (281.4 ypg) and 18th-best run defense (124.8).

Stample underwent a shoulder procedure in late April and was expected to be out two months, but sources inside the program indicated to Tomahawk Nation that Stample (aka NLS), took longer to heal up.

ricobert1: One area I saw Timmy make a massive improvement from 2012 to 2013 was his upper-body strength. While never a slouch, I saw him stand OL up last year like an incline press bar before disposing of them to get to the ball carrier. Couple that with his Houdini moves and good if not great size and it's no wonder he was drafted 48th overall by the Ravens.

I'd like to see NLS really become technically sound in his use of hands and extend OL like Timmy did last year. NLS is strong, quick, and fairly smart for a DL (this is an insult to DRusso who ate gravel for breakfast this morning and lost 5 teeth before realizing his mistake). NLS is one of those fascinating athletes that played LB at 270 his junior year of high school, and is a literally a sideline-to-sideline DT at the college level. He even anchored and handled double-teams well last year against one of the best OL's on the last drive of the NCG.

NLS has some skill. He makes a great play here in scraping off a downhill block from a good OL in the UM game (unfortunately, the result of the play ended Duke Johnson's season). You could argue #70 did a poor job engaging NLS by leading with only his hands instead of his hands and facemask (i.e., 3 points of contact), but in the same vein you give credit to NLS for having no part of that. Awful injury for Duke, wish him all the best moving forward.

So, there is no replacing Jernigan. I like Clemson's Grady Jarrett better than NLS, but NLS should do just fine this year.

Bud: I'd be more confident in FSU not having a big dropoff in play at the nose guard position if Nile Lawrence Stample didn't have the shoulder surgery. As of this writing, NLS has still been limited some in practice and in scrimmages, and I have to wonder how much strength he lost over the summer while recovering. Some dropoff from Jernigan was inevitable, but hopefully it won't be too much more than expected.

I am somewhat concerned with his backups if something were to happen with NLS.

Onebarrelrum: I'm with Bud on this one. Really worried about Stample's recovery. If he's healthy, I think he'll do ok. He doesn't use his hands nearly as well as Jernigan, and while athletic, I don't see him as a guy that gets into the backfield quickly. However, as ricobert said, he can be a space eater and hopefully he can improve on taking double teams. Jernigan used his hands and technique to make some flashy plays. I think NLS's impact will be different, but not necessarily bad.

DA-2: You've got to be concerned about the NT position if you're a Florida State fan. You can't replace Jernigan, but more importantly, you certainly can't expect our LB's to be "bouncing around, doing some things" if Goldman or NLS go down. NT has to be everyone's biggest concern this year. I would feel a hell of a lot better if one of these freshman phenoms can put in significant snaps.

Alan Mundy: I'm not quite as worried about this as some. Timmy was able to make splash plays from the nose position, something that is a plus if you have it, but not necessary for the defense to be effective. If we lose either of the top two, then the concern escalates.

FSU: I'm with Alan. A lot depends on what you will be asking your NT to be doing in a given year. You can create pressure by the talent of people around them (which Florida State has a lot of) and not necessarily that position. Timmy was a luxury last year.

Phenomenoles: NLS really came on last year. We know he's massive and has the perfect body type to clog the middle at NG. Is he going to make the splash plays that Timmy did last year? No. But FSU doesn't necessarily need him to. As long as he stays healthy, I think he's ready to fill the void.

jmnpb996: I'm with the above 3 (and also Bud/OBR) - as long as NLS is healthy, not particularly concerned about the position. We now have the benefit of a couple weeks of camp at the time of my writing, and it appears Derrick Nnadi has stepped up and appears ready to contribute as well. I just hope we don't have another 2012 Amp McCloud on our hands.

Florida State season preview

Florida State also lost reserves Demonte McAllister and Jacobbi McDaniel. What are your thoughts on the depth situation at defensive tackle? What will FSU get from Desmond Hollin, Keith Bryant, Giorgio Newberry, Derrick Mitchell, Justin Shanks, etc.? How much will freshmen Derrick Nnadi, Demarcus Christmas, and Arthur Williams have to play?

Bud: The optimist in me believes in strength in numbers. I am not confident in specifically any of the Bryant/Newberry/Shanks/Mitchell group playing well this year, but if you told me that one of them would go on to be good, I probably wouldn't argue. I'd be surprised if two are good players this year. Defensive tackle probably has a higher bust rate than any other position, and FSU was bound to have some misses at the position sooner or later.

I think Hollin will probably play some five-tech and some three-tech as a reserve behind Mario Edwards, Jr. and Eddie Goldman.

But even so, I really think Florida State is going to need Derrick Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas to step up and play a few hundred combined snaps. Nnadi has been raved about since he stepped on campus, and I think he has a real shot to be the primary backup at the nose spot behind Nile Lawrence-Stample. Nnadi is already one of the strongest players on the team, and I suspect that his technique will be passable enough to be someone who can play some meaningful snaps for FSU. I also expect Christmas to play some of the three- and five-technique positions, backing up Goldman.

Onebarrelrum: My take is the starters HAVE TO STAY HEALTHY. My second take is see the first take. I've covered Mitchell. All the size, and he hasn't ben able to stay healthy for any stretch in his career. Maybe that changes. I think Shanks and Bryant looked out of shape. But, who knows, if they play enough, maybe they do better as the season goes? I'm not hopeful. I've mentioned Nnadi as well. He'll play. If he's taking snaps from Shanks/Bryant already in practice, well, gotta think he's gonna be leaned on more than most true freshman should be. I think Hollin, either on the edge or inside, will provide the most reliable backup this year. He'll get his fair share of meaningful playing time.

DA-2: Just stay healthy NLS and Goldman. After that, I'm really hoping the light turns on for Bryant, but most indications are they haven't. Otherwise, it's going to be critical for Christmas or Nnandi (see above) to show something. It's hard to expect defensive lineman with that weight to go through the whole season healthy. I'm hoping someone can provide quality depth in the third rotation.

FSU: The "hold the fort, by committee approach" at the DT position can work given it's schedule. As long as reps are managed correctly. This will be one of the challenges of this staff. Managing reps in games AND in practice because those practice collisions add to wear and tear on the body. Holding players out in preseason and limiting number of reps during the year maybe more of norm this year as players may be on a "collision pitch count" to a degree via some of the technology uses, just to ensure health.

Phenomenoles: My opinion on this differs from most. I think the DT/NG depth situation has been overblown. This is still probably a top 20 unit in the country. NLS appears to be making his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. NLS and Goldman make the best DT/NG tandem in the ACC and one of the better ones in the country. Behind them I happen to like Hollin at DT and it sounds like Nnadi is the first one up behind NLS at NG. Then you have Christmas, Bryant, Gio, etc to shoulder a few snaps.

Fully expect Nnadi to play and his acquisition late was absolutely critical.