Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi stepped into a starting role last season, and was a force against the run. He finished with 45 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks on the year. He knows he still has a lot to improve on, and he's working on the little things to make that happen.
"From how I did in previous springs I feel like I really improved, but there are still a lot of things I can work on," Nnadi said. "I’m getting better, but there are still a lot of things I need to focus on... I feel like I’m better in my technique. A little in my strength. Actually, a lot in my strength. I feel like I really improved on that. And just running to the ball. More focused on the little things. That’s gotten my progression to go even further."
This spring he's trying to turn into more of a well rounded player and improve his pass rush. That's an area where he felt like he declined a little last season.
"I’ve really been working on that because last season I really declined how I was in the pass rush," Nnadi said. "So I’ve been really working in the offseason to improve that... When I watched it there were moments when I was watching film when I was like,’ Maybe I could have snatched that momentum. I’m taking too long in the pass rush. Maybe I could have gotten a better step. Maybe I was looking at the wrong thing. Maybe I was looking at the back foot.’ Things like that. I’ve been working on that to improve on that, and I feel like I’m a lot better."
His hard work has paid off with head coach Jimbo Fisher taking notice of the progress he's made.
"I've noticed him a bunch," Fisher said. "He's got a chance to be a very good player. Learning to rush the passer even better now. Transition from run to pass and all that is a little better right now.
His play on the field isn't the only area that he is working to improve. Defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins has been pushing him to be more vocal with the younger linemen, and with the defense as a whole.
"He’s been telling us that we need to step up," Nnadi said. "All the older guys, we’ve got to step up. Just be more talkative because me, myself I’m not really that talkative of a person. I’m more quiet. A lot of times I’ll call Nile [Lawrence-Stample] because he’s been a big brother to me ever since I’ve been here. He’s telling me that I’ve got to help out the guys. I’ve got to talk more because I’ve been on the field a lot more times that a lot of the guys up here so I know what it takes. So even though I don’t like talking I really have to say something because there are some things that I can tell to the young guys just to give some type of guidance and help them perfect their craft."
That's a lot of weight being put on Nnadi's shoulders, but he's already proving that he can handle it.