The linebacker spot was a major position of need in this year's recruiting cycle for Florida State, and the 'Noles did quite well bringing in new bodies at that position, en route to a premier National Signing Day class for the Seminoles. That class features four-star LBs Josh Brown (an early enrollee), Dontavious Jackson, Keion Joyner, and three-star backer Emmett Rice.
This primary position of need for FSU is still somewhat hampered, per comments from Jimbo Fisher with our friend Jeff Cameron. Converted safety Tyrell Lyons, who missed the 2015 season with a knee injury, will remain out for spring practice, a big abstention, given his ability in coverage. And Fisher said that Delvin Purifoy, recovering from a tricky ankle injury, is "getting health," though it is impossible to know what to expect from a player who suffered what is basically a two-year leg injury.
However, other returning Seminoles seem primed to step up. Ro'Derrick Hoskins, FSU's third-leading returning tackler from last year, is back, and Fisher said on Wednesday night that the somewhat enigmatic Matthew Thomas will be ready to go for spring ball. Sh'Mar Kilby-Lane, a sophomore sticker on whom Florida State seems quite high as well, will also be good to go for the spring.
And then there are the freshmen. In discussing his new linebackers, Fisher led with Josh Brown, whom he described as being able to play anywhere. He praised the talent of Dontavious Jackson, a huge signing-day acquisition, as "tremendous," while emphasizing the versatility of the incoming Keion Joyner. And Emmett Rice? Fisher was quick to compare him to 'Nole great Telvin Smith.
All in all, Florida State fans concerned about the linebacker position may be heartened by Fisher's own optimistic conclusion regarding the position group: "I think we're in great shape at linebacker."
For more on how this year's new linebackers could affect FSU, check out Wednesday night's Nolecast.