Focus 2005

Florida State linebackers coach <b>Kevin Steele </b> is a big believer in cross-training his players and rotating them often. Regardless who starts, the entire group is expected to play key roles. FSU also will benefit from the arrival of talented newcomers <b>Rodney Gallon, Jae Thaxton</b> and <B>Lawrence Timmons</b> and junior college transfer <b>Barry Wright. </b>. With the concern that FSU could lose linebackers early to the NFL, FSU has targeted the position in recruiting.

Linebacker is considered a defensive strength at Florida State this upcoming season.

No wonder.

Returnees A.J. Nicholson and Ernie Sims ranked among the Seminoles' top 10 tacklers last season despite splitting time behind starters.

Nicholson finished seventh with 55 tackles and Sims was ninth with 42.

Nicholson, a junior whose motor doesn't stop, will enter summer drills as the Seminoles' starter at weakside linebacker. Sims, a sophomore, was slowed by injuries during spring drills and must fend off senior Ray Piquion at strongside linebacker.

Sam McGrew and Buster Davis, who seems to be finally realize his potential, are in a spirited battle for the starter's role in the middle.

In addition to junior Marcello Church, FSU also will benefit from the arrival of freshmen Rodney Gallon, Jae Thaxton and Lawrence Timmons and junior college transfer Barry Wright.

While the Seminoles appear set at linebacker this season, there's concern FSU could lose some of its linebackers early to the NFL.

One of the nation's top linebackers resides beyond the border in Georgia in Dan Foster of Early County.

"I like Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn and UCLA. Florida State is my leader right now," Foster told The Insiders.

Foster says FSU coaches have told him the Seminoles will indeed lose linebackers early to the NFL.

"FSU told me that they signed three linebackers last year but they are going to lose them all," Foster said.

"They also said Ernie Sims and A.J. Nicholson have looked really good and were going to leave school early. That did a lot for me when they told me that because it gives me that window of opportunity that I was looking for."

Foster, however, says he's also looking hard at Georgia. Foster also has recovered from a broken leg that ended his season a year ago.

"I'm still looking really hard at Georgia," he said.

"All that stuff with FSU isn't putting down Georgia, because I love that place. They have said they need me, and I like them also."


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