Wayne McGahee III

FSU Position Preview: Linebacker

Florida State's linebacker group has been highly criticized over the past few years. Will 2016 be any different?

Position Starter 2nd Team 3rd Team
Sam Jacob Pugh Josh Brown
Mike Ro'Derrick Hoskins Delvin Purifoy Dontavious Jackson
Will Matthew Thomas Sh'mar Kilby-Lane Emmett Rice

Florida State will spend most of their time with just two linebackers on the field. Matthew Thomas is finally stepping into a starting role after having a very tumultuous career in Tallahassee so far. He has been suspended for 19 of Florida State's last 27 games, and a shoulder injury limited his production in the eight he was able to play. He had shoulder surgery before the start of the 2015 season, and earned a starting spot during spring practice. The former 5-star will get his chance to prove just how good he can be this fall, and the Seminoles will need him to step into that role.

Ro'Derrick Hoskins stepped in and made a name for himself after injuries forced him into the lineup in 2015. He played better than the starter he was replacing, and will be an improvement at the Mike linebacker position this season. 

When Florida State does go to three linebackers Jacob Pugh will step on to the field. Pugh's versatility as a pass rusher and in coverage will get him plenty of snaps this fall if he can stay injury free. Pugh dealt with a number of minor injuries during the 2015 season, and it limited his playing time significantly. 

Josh Brown is another incredibly versatile player. He had a standout spring after early enrolling, and put himself firmly in contention for playing time. Brown excelled as a pass rusher in high school, but showed that he can also play the traditional linebacker role just as well during the spring.

Delvin Purifoy suffered a catastrophic ankle injury as a freshman, and hasn't been able to find his way back yet. He was able to play in the spring game, but was picked on in coverage. His window is closing quickly with a deep and talented freshman class stepping in this offseason. Sh'mar Kilby-Lane will see time in the rotation this fall. He was a depth player during the 2015 season, and will need a strong fall camp to hold off the freshmen behind him.

Dontavious Jackson and Emmett Rice both arrived on campus about a month ago. The two are extremely talented, but Jackson is the most likely to make an instant impact. He already has the size needed, and how quickly he gets on the field will depend on how quickly he learns the system. Rice is listed at 203-pounds, which is already 10-pounds up from his high school weight, so he will need time to add more weight. When he does his athleticism and instincts will get him into the rotation.

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