Impressive Depth

Linebacker is considered a Florida State strength - with good reason. The Seminoles feature plenty of skill and depth at that position, and FSU fans are excited about the unit's potential. Freshman <b>Jae Thaxton</b> continues to make progress. Thaxton, who averaged 20 tackles per game during his career at Hart County (Ga.) High School, is looking to contribute this year. Click here for an update.

Despite injuries at linebacker, the unit hasn't lost a step this preseason as Florida State continues to prepare for its season-opener at Miami on Labor Day, Sept. 6.

Outside linebacker A.J. Nicholson continues to strengthen his knee. Fellow outside linebacker Ernie Sims has been slowed by a pair of slight concussions that have caused him to review his tackling technique. And, of course, outside linebacker Marcello Church continues to recover from an ankle sprain.

The good news is the trio should be fine for the Hurricanes. There's more good news, too, as other players have had an opportunity to make a favorable impression.

Freshman Jae Thaxton is in that mix. In fact, FSU coach Bobby Bowden praised the efforts of both Thaxton and fellow freshman linebacker Lawrence Timmons following Tuesday's practice.

"(They) jumped out today," Bowden said.

"They are getting opportunities that some other guys are not getting. Every time there's an injury, there's an opportunity. You hate to see injuries but it gives other guys a chance."

Thaxton, a soft-spoken, 6-foot-1, 225-pounder, is listed third on the depth chart at middle linebacker behind Sam McGrew and Buster Davis. Davis, of course, has double-dipped at outside linebacker as well.

" In my progression as a linebacker, it's really helped me a lot to be out there," Thaxton said of his increased opportunities.

"I'm enjoying it as anybody would be."

Thaxton also continues to learn the Seminoles' schemes under linebackers coach Kevin Steele.

"There are times here and there (mistakes) but Coach Steele is right when he says that you have to focused 100 percent of the time," Thaxton said.

"Once your locked in things start coming to you and you get better. He's a great teacher out there."

Thaxton also has relied on FSU veterans for help. As a senior at Hart County High School, Ga., Thaxton had more than 160 tackles, four sacks and two fumble recoveries. He set the school record in tackles with more than 500 in his career.

"I also have guys to lean on," Thaxton said.

"If I don't know what to do on a play, I'll go find Buster or Sam or Ernie and they'll tell me what I need to do."

Chris Milton contributed to this report.

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