He is expected to be one of the leaders on this year's Florida State defense.
Now, senior linebacker Vince Williams will be unable to participate in next Saturday's Garnet and Gold Game.
The Davenport native will miss the remainder of spring practice after breaking his tibia Thursday during drills. He is expected to be sidelined for the next four to six weeks.
"He got a little crack in his tibia," said coach Jimbo Fisher after Saturday's workout. "It's broke, but it's just a slight crack. It will be like a sprain, so he'll just rest for four weeks or five weeks and he'll be fine."
The injury doesn't appear to be much of a concern for Fisher, and neither does the idea of more possible injuries happening to other players. The Seminoles suffered a substantial amount of wounds this past season, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but Fisher and Co. won't change philosophy to prevent further damage.
"You gotta go," he said. "That's a part of ball. We've actually got less injuries the more physical and nasty we got then we do when we're trying not to. Now we don't want anyone to get hurt, but we had to learn last year."
Simply stated, injuries are a part of the game. The physicality of football brings the harsh reality that an athlete is never more than one play away from being out for an extended period of time.
Nonetheless, the loss of Williams will provide others with a chance to prove that they belong in this year's defensive rotation. Linebacker is certainly not considered one of the deepest positions for FSU in 2012.
"It's good practice," said Fisher. "Guys get hurt, and it gives somebody else an opportunity. We've got to learn to play without him."
The ‘Noles will have to play without last season's leading tackler in Nigel Bradham. Bradham is moving on to pursue an NFL career, but Florida State has plenty of ability to fill his void. Williams will be the starting middle linebacker. Christian Jones is slotted to start on the weak side -- after being the starting strong-side defender in 2011 -- and Nick Moody has switched from safety to strong-side 'backer.
Williams' injury likely means Telvin Smith will take over the starting middle-linebacker position for the rest of spring practice and surely get the nod to start in next weekend's annual spring game. A rotation player this past season, the junior is more athletic than Williams -- he certainly makes more big plays -- but might not be sturdy enough at 212 pounds to be an every-down MIKE.
There is still plenty of preparation to complete before April 14, and not just at middle linebacker but everywhere on the field.
Fisher was pleased with the intensity of practice Saturday, although he admits that his team isn't where it needs to be yet.
"We did some better today," he said. "Got physical. Good to get some guys back in there. Defense won some. Offense won some. It was a good practice, but there's still some inconsistencies that we got to get ironed out. We've got to clean some things up. We've got to learn to eliminate some little knucklehead things, on both sides."
It will certainly be more difficult to clean up those mistakes with the penciled-in starting middle linebacker on the sideline.
Still, a scrimmage awaits Monday, and Fisher is looking to see more out of his roster this time around.
"I want to see more consistency," he said. "You've got to create momentum in big plays on offense and defense. College sports is a game of momentum. I want to see the offense make a play when the defense does it right, and I want to see the defense make a play when the offense does it right. When the talent level is equal, what do you do? That's the games you get measured by."
Matt Ritter is a football and basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com, as well as a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
Now that spring drills are in the rearview mirror for Florida State and the annual Garnet and Gold…