Nigel Bradham led the team in tackles as a junior with 98. The rising senior added five sacks and should be a defensive leader for the Noles. Bradham considered the NFL draft, but decided to return when his grade was not quite as high as he hoped. Uber talented, the thought process was that he would need a year with Coach Hudson to break some bad habits. He is considered on track and he has the potential to be one of the best in the country. Bradham has plenty of experience, but he has lacked consistency at times.
Kendall Smith's departure opens up a spot in the middle and two players are expected to battle it out in the Spring: Vincent Williams and Jeff Luc. Williams received a little more playing time last year as Luc was just a true freshmen. Luc entered FSU as the no. 1 LB in the country, he was in for Spring last year, and he has now had a full season to adjust to the college game. The hope is that he is ready to realize his vast potential.
Luc has great size and carries the reputation of a fierce hitter. Look for him to respond. Williams is a RS junior and was rock solid last year. He does not possess the upside of Luc, but has a good understanding of the game and is active. He needs to work on shedding blocks better and playing more downhill.
Mister Alexander has graduated opening up a spot for Christian Jones. Jones was one of the most impressive freshmen last season and his playing time seemed to increase as the season went on. Blessed with elite size and speed, it is certainly possible that he establishes himself amongst the nation's elite this season. He can flat run, drop into coverage, and get after the QB. The sky is the limit for Jones.
Depth is going to be provided by Telvin Smith, Holmes Onwukaife, and Nigel Terrell. Smith made a name for himself on special teams as well as several flashes of brilliance as a LB. He is not the biggest player, but he plays with swagger and heart; he clearly enjoys playing the game and should push for reps in the Spring. Smith's athleticism could find him a role in certain packages if he is not able to wrestle to a starting position away from a player above.
Onwukaife and Terrell both redshirted as a freshmen, thus the Spring will be an opportunity for them to show what they bring to the table. Terrell is an athlete that is still learning the finer points of the position. Onwukaife has a little more buzz about his name and he is expected to make a push to get on the field. He has some pass rushing skills and is another player with a good size/speed ratio.
Terrance Smith is an early enrollee. He is expected to thrive in the weight training program and is a bit of a wildcard at this time. He comes in with plenty of accolades, the major discussion is where he fits best positionally. That will probably take some time, we might have a better idea about that in the Fall. Bottom line, he is another big athlete that can run.
Arrington Jenkins should join the team over the summer and we think he could make an immediate impact. The thought is that he might play MLB, but he could easily play any of the three spots. Blessed with an abundance of talent, he also has a terrific feel for the game. Classic Dade County linebacker.
Is it as simple as Bradham, Luc, Jones? It could be which would bring scary, physical talent together. It is far from certain however as there is a lot of potential at this position and guys want to play. Telvin Smith is a guy who will be intriguing to watch develop.
With Jenkins arrival there are nine scholarship LBs on this team, eight are in for Spring. While it is one of the most talented groups, it is also lacks a little experience. The unit should improve as the season progresses.
Last year the back-ups, mainly Jones and Williams/Luc, received plenty of reps, we would look for 2-3 to get similar time in 2011. By the end of the season, the LBs will have a chance to be one of the best groups in the country.
The future looks bright as well with seven of the nine being sophomores or younger.