Spring Preview: Defensive Backs

Florida State's secondary was much improved in 2010 and the top six DBs all return in 2011. NoleDigest breaks down the DB position as we head into Spring practice.

Cornerback

Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes were the starters last year and it would be surprising if they were not in those same roles again. However there should be plenty of competition.

Reid had both good and bad moments in 2010, but it is important to remember that he is still very young. He has played MAJOR minutes as a true frosh and sophomore; there is a strong case that in an FSU program "running good" he might not have seen the field much yet. That experience should be invaluable and I would look for Reid to have the type of junior year that many fans expect. He is also a potential difference maker on special teams.


Harris will push for a starting job in Spring
Steve Chase, NoleDigest.com

We were thrilled with Rhodes last Spring, NoleDigest called him as a starter and he did not disappoint. He is rock solid: he understands the position, is physical, and his size allows him to match-up with bigger wideouts. Look for Rhodes to get nothing but better as a sophomore and to climb up NFL draft boards because he is eligible after this season.

Mike Harris should be the nickel after a great junior season. The nickel package gets a lot of run due to spread offenses and he is a player that seems to always be around the football. Harris can spell Reid on the outside if FSU feels that he needs a rest or if they choose to play him a little offensively. He will certainly push for a starting job. The reality is that most JUCOs take some time to adjust, Harris is a rare exception who actually exceeded expectations.

Terrence Brooks and Nick Waisome will battle it out for the 4th and 5th CB spots. Brooks could also play some Safety in the Spring, but we think the upside is there as a CB. He was a pleasant surprise and is capable of playing big minutes. Waisome was the most coveted CB in the state last year and is in early for Spring. He is a natural CB with elite coverage skills. He figures to need a little time to get physically stronger.

Keelin Smith will arrive in the summer. He has some of the same skills as Rhodes and should be groomed to be his replacement. At 6'2 he has elite length. Smith will need to work on his man coverage skills, but should fit in nicely with Stoops defensive scheme.

Safety

Both starters return here as well, but there figures to be increased competition at this spot. Nick Moody makes his presence felt against the run because of his physicality. He delivered several big shots and is like another LB out there. He needs to do better against the pass, mainly making more plays including interceptions. He is still just a junior.


Parks is an experienced starter heading into his senior season
Steve Chase, NoleDigest.com

Terrance Parks manned the other Safety spot and he was solid as a junior. Like Moody, he just did not make enough impact plays last season. He played a ton of minutes and the hope would be that experience puts him over the hump. Parks has the size and speed to be a difference maker, Spring will be big for him.

Lamarcus Joyner was the 4th CB as a true freshmen, but will be given a chance at Safety in the Spring. He is shorter than ideal, but one only has to have watched him play in high school to know that he has the physicality to excel at that spot. His speed, and thus range, would be an improvement. Can he take the pounding physically at Safety? I think the answer is yes to that question.

Walking up and down the sidelines during a game, your eye usually finds Chad Abrams. He is another Safety who physically looks the part. This will be his first opportunity to really make a move and he could emerge as a surprise in the Spring. Polk County natives are still talking about what they think he brings to the table, he will have a chance to show it.

Two players who need to make a move are Justin Bright and Gerald Demps. Both are redshirt sophomores and it is time they find their role on this team. Bright came in with the reputation for being a player who is like a coach on the field, he needs to show that in the Spring. Demps was a play-maker in high school and that is what FSU needs back there. Like Bright, it is time he made a name for himself.

More help is on the way with Karlos Williams, Tyler Hunter, and Lamarcus Brutus arriving in the summer. Williams proved to be a special athlete at the All-Star games and many believe he is ready to compete for a starting job from day one. It is hard to do for a freshmen, but physically he is ready to go and that often times is the toughest part. Hunter is another physical player from Valdosta who could help in year one. Brutus really could play CB or S, but figures to start out at Safety. He had a huge senior year that went under the radar. He could surprise in year one.

Bottom Line

Big things should be expected out of this secondary next season. Everyone returns who played meaningful minutes and there is a lot of depth. There is competition at each spot. Williams is expected to make an impact immediately.

If each player returns better than last season- and rumors are that is exactly what is going to happen- FSU will have gone from one of the worst secondaries in the country to one of the best in two short years. Quite an accomplishment and very indicative of the direction this program is headed.


Nole Digest Top Stories