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Justin Shanks, defensive tackle: Florida State football 2013 preview

Red-shirt freshman defensive tackle Justin Shanks has a ton of competition to break into the rotation. Can he do it?

Red-shirt freshman defensive tackle Justin Shanks has a ton of competition to break into the rotation. Can he do it?
Red-shirt freshman defensive tackle Justin Shanks has a ton of competition to break into the rotation. Can he do it?

Florida State football kicks off on Labor day at Pitt. Tomahawk Nation previews the season up until that date by analyzing every player and other key issues facing the 2013 Seminoles.

No. 92 | Justin Shanks | 6'2, 318 | RS-FR | Defensive Tackle

Bio: courtesy of

Run-stopping tackle who is rated a four-star defensive lineman by ESPN, Rivals, Scout and a three-star by 247Sports...explodes off the ball and displays great strength in engaging blockers and defending a gap well...ranked the No. 7 player in state of Alabama, No. 10 defensive tackle and No. 51 player regionally by ESPN while also being listed No. 114 in the ESPNU150...totaled 54 tackles, including 10 for loss and 5.5 sacks as a senior...added 15 quarterback hurries and caught a touchdown pass as a tight end while helping Prattville to the Class 6A state championship.

Career to Date:

Justin Shanks committed to FSU as a consensus 4* defensive tackle from Pratville, Alabama. Under most circumstances, that alone would be enough to warrant significant playing time. But, alas-FSU has now been hitting its stride in the effort to establish a formidable front four for years to come. He redshirted, somewhat to his dismay, and did not see the field during the Seminoles' 2012 campaign. Therefore, Shanks' career at FSU thus far has been, for a lack of a better word, nonexistent.

However, with the Seminoles looking to reload their draft-depleted defensive line, this season could be his chance to find a place among the best front four in the nation. This is not to say that it will be easy. Shanks was part of a 2012 recruiting class that also included the likes of consensus 5*'s Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman, as well as consensus 4* Chris Casher. Additionally, Shanks will have to compete with the likes of veterans Timmy Jernigan, Nile Lawrence-Stample, Demonte McCallister, Derrick Mitchell and Jacobbi McDaniel at the tackle position. FSU defensive line coach Odell Haggins has been known to experiment with trying players out at different positions, but Shanks' is clearly an interior defensive lineman only. I would look for him to line up as a 0, 1, 2 or perhaps 3 technique in some situations.

Regardless of how many snaps he sees on the field, learning from Haggins will surely boost his football IQ and therefore his overall value to a constantly rotating defensive repertoire. Haggins has coached 6 defensive tackles that have gone on to play in the NFL, as well as the two highest-taken tackles in 2005 and 2006. Shanks also possesses the physicality and natural talent it takes to contribute in one of the best defensive line units in the nation. He is the second-heaviest tackle on the roster, after fellow 2012 commit Eddie Goldman, based on Florida State's listed weights, which may or may not be current. Tomahawk Nation did recently see Shanks, and he is noticeably slimmer than in 2012.

On his recruiting film, he displayed a good first step for his size. Additionally, he is rumored to be a monster in the weight room, squatting over 600 pounds and bench-pressing almost 500. Furthermore, Shanks was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and given a CPAP machine, which helps him attain a more thorough night's rest. Because of this, he continues to see improvements in his energy levels weight loss and test grades. In the 2013 Garnet and Gold spring game, Shanks was quiet, not recording any sacks or tackles for loss. He did manage to break up a 1st and 10 pass attempt by Sean McGuire to Kelvin Benjamin in the 3rd quarter.

With all of this expertise and god-given physicality at his disposal, it is not rash to think that he could work his way into the defensive rotation in 2013. If he stays at his goal weight and continues to improve, he could earn meaningful snaps. Through no fault of his own, though, we will most likely see Shanks on the field only intermittently, and not in pressure-packed situations. In a way, this article highlights FSU's incredible defensive tackle depth.

Shanks true impact may be felt in years 2014-2016, as a nose guard, particularly if FSU makes the full transition to the 3-4 that has been rumored. He does have a real chance to be a multi-year starter if he continues to work.