Next up in the preview series is the Florida State defensive tackles. In today's college football world, the tackle's job is rather difficult. Not only is he relied upon to be a run stopper, but he also must have the ability to eat up blockers while still having the quickness to potentially disrupt plays against the "spread" offenses. I use quotes because I believe the term is rather overused, but that's a topic for another day.
There are seven scholarship players returning at defensive tackle in addition to newcomer Keith Bryant. The group averages 304 pounds per man and has more than enough game experience to pick up right where it left off.
There's no question that Timmy Jernigan is the star of the group. The junior already has many draft experts projecting him to go in the first two rounds of next year's NFL draft, despite having only started two games in his career. The reason he is one the premier defensive tackles in the country is because of his size and ability to eat up blockers. He is routinely double teamed, which allows linebackers Christian Jones and Telvin Smith to run freely. Jernigan also has the ability to blow up any given play and disrupt the backfield.
That versatility will be a huge asset for new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as it will allow him to be flexible with his defense and switch from a 4-3 to 3-4 rather easy.
Joining Jernigan at defensive tackle is redshirt senior Demonte McAllister. McAllister has been a rather quiet contributor throughout his career at FSU, but has a chance to solidify himself as a potential NFL draft pick with the increased number of reps and playing time he will see in 2013.
McAllister is one of two redshirt seniors at the position as he is joined by Jacobbi McDaniel, who missed all of last season due to a leg injury. A healthy McDaniel will help the Seminoles tremendously in gap control.
Jernigan, McAllister, and McDaniel are all veteran players with a ton of game experience, and while the group behind them may lack in game experience, it is one impressive group that provides quality depth.
Rising sophomore Eddie Goldman will certainly see a spike in playing time, and there is a good chance he lines up on the edge at certain times. Big bodied linemen Justin Shanks and Niles Lawrence-Stample also provide fantastic depth at the position and will likely see an increase in playing time as well.
In addition, this is the first time Derrick Mitchell has been healthy since stepping on campus and he could be a contributor in 2013. Lastly, freshman Keith Bryant has a very high ceiling and is a very promising youngster. He will see the field in certain situations as well since Odell Haggins loves to rotate his tackles and keep them as fresh as possible.