The leaders: Kevin McNeil, SR. Markus White, SR.
The good with McNeil: Last season, McNeil showed his ability at times making plays when given the chance. He played in 12 games and showed his ability to get in the backfield as he recorded 4.5 tackles for loss. Throughout the spring, he began to show more consistency. McNeil will be a senior this year and will be forced to become a leader which should push him to a new level.
The good with White: There is no question that White has the potential to have a huge season. His specialty is rushing the passer where he will try and fill the void left by NFL draftee Everette Brown. Last season, White had a tough transition to the college level but should now be settled in and ready to play. Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has said on several occasions that there is not a player on the defense who is more determined or plays harder than White on a down to down basis.
The bad with McNeil: McNeil's biggest problem throughout his career has been his inconsistency. He will have a huge play in a scrimmage, and then blow an assignment giving up a huge play to the offense. As previously stated, he did improved on this aspect throughout the spring, but is still a liability when on the field because of this. If he can work on this heading into fall camp, he will be a sold end for FSU.
The bad with White: Although it is no secret quarterbacks will have to keep an eye out for White when dropping back to throw the ball, his run stopping ability is very suspect. White gets his motor going so fast that he often over pursues running backs allowing them an open lane to cut through. It is a prime example of taking the bad with the good. Once he becomes more disciplined and learns to balance out his skill set, he could be very dangerous to opposing offenses this season.
The contenders:Jamar Jackson, RS-SO, Toshmon Stevens, SO, Brandon Jenkins, FR.
Jackson: Jackson finally got in a lot of work this spring after missing nearly a calendar year with an ACL tear. He was originally a linebacker but switched to defensive end at the request of the coaching staff. Tackling is a strength of Jackson but he is still adjusting to his new position. It will be up to him in regards to how much he will play. If he can show that he is able to learn the role of a defensive end in Andrews' defense, he could see the field plenty of this season.
Stevens: Stevens had a very quiet spring after a very quiet season for the garnet and gold. He did show flashes of ability making a few plays that stood out during spring ball, but never really caught the eyes of the coaching staff. Stevens is still young, so there is plenty of time for him to develop. He will most likely see time on special teams this season, but not many reps during games other than to hand out breathers.
Jenkins:Jenkins came in this spring as an early enrollee and showed that he is ready to play now. Although he still has a lot to learn, he showed plenty of natural ability and caught the eyes of both the coaching staff and his teammates. He goes hard every play and has adapted well so far. He will start off seeing limited minutes early on in the season, but could find himself into the rotation more as the year goes on if he continues his growth from this spring.
Post-spring verdict: There is no proven playmaker on this unit, but a ton of potential. Markus White has to be the favorite to step up and lead the team in his last year before he enters the NFL draft, and I wouldn't be one bit surprised to see him have a huge season. He may not have the type of year Everette Brown had last season, but he could come close. Overall, this unit will lack depth unless they step up as a unit and make early progress during the summer and heading into fall camp.
Post-spring position breakdown: DE
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