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FSU makes substantial depth-chart changes for Independence Bowl vs. Southern Miss

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New starters and an interesting omission.

Miami v Florida State Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

Florida State’s December 27 Independence Bowl showdown against Southern Miss may be its final game of the 2017 season, but that contest could also serve as somewhat of a preview as to who could be in line for playing time, and where, in 2018.

And after leaving its depth chart static since the Delaware State game, FSU football made major changes to the DC for USM. Let’s start on the offensive side of the ball.

Hey! It only took until the postseason, but D.J. Matthews’ name finally appears on the receiver depth; he’s listed as the backup for Keith Gavin, taking the place of the departed Ermon Lane. The OL depth remains the same, but following the transfer of tight end Mavin Saunders to Kansas, the TE depth has been shortened to simply starter Ryan Izzo and then freshman Tre’ McKitty.

There are many more shakeups defensively. Surprisingly, Josh Sweat remains as the first-string Buck linebacker, even though he’s announced his intention to sit out the bowl game and head to the NFL. His backup is still Janarius Robinson, so it looks like we’ll see some more out of the athletic redshirt-frosh.

A noticeable omission dominates the inside linebacker spots, where redshirt-senior Matthew Thomas, previously a starter, is nowhere to be found. Listed in his place atop the Will LB depth is Emmett Rice.

Of course, Derwin James, like Sweat, is also not participating in th bowl game ahead of an early departure for the NFL, and his absence is reflected on the depth chart. In his place as the starter there is the venerable Nate Andrews, followed by Hamsah Nasirildeen, who takes over the backup spot from Lane.

There’s also a change atop the Star-position depth, which had been occupied solely by Kyle Meyers. That spot is now split between Stanford Samuels III or Meyers.

And, at long last, the special-teams depth chart confirms what our eyeballs have told us for months now: Matthews is (finally) listed as the starting punt returner, with Tarvarus McFadden as the backup. And while one of the kick-returner positions had been listed as James followed by Khalan Laborn, it has since been changed to Matthews and then Nyqwan Murray.

I’ve included a pic of the latest depth chart below.