Players with the most to prove - Defense

Although this year's Florida State team is generally young and has a lot to prove as a whole, NoleDigest is taking a deeper look at which players will need to prove something this offseason before the Tribe kicks off against Miami on Labor Day. This part will look specifically at the defense.

This Florida State defense has more question marks on it than the SAT. Every single player, minus Patrick Robinson needs to prove their ability in one way or another this offseason as there are no truly significant contributors coming back besides Robinson. NoleDigest dissected the defense and picked the six players on defense with the most to gain, although everyone for the most part is on level playing ground right now.

Defensive end – Markus White - White came to Florida State expected to come right in and be a force as a pass rusher. It took him several weeks before he even registered his first sack, and had a quiet first season for the most part. Heading into his junior season, he has immense pressure to help fill the void left by NFL draftee Everette Brown. Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has said on several occasions there is no one player more determined than White and it is time for West Palm Beach native to show it with his play. He has all the tools necessary to be the next great defensive player for FSU but still needs to show that he is ready to take on the role.

Defensive tackle – Moses McCray - McCray is only entering his sophomore season, but finds himself in a unique situation. As of right now, he is listed second on the depth chart at his position behind Justin Mincey. Mincey is a player who has not had a very solid career and some feel his potential may have been met. If McCray can come in this summer and into fall camp, he could give a serious push for the starting job. McCray still has a lot to learn, but the position is his to take whenever he shows he is ready.

Linebacker – Kendall Smith - Smith is entering his third year at Florida State and will be the most experienced linebacker on the team. He has the skill set and ability to eventually be a great player at Florida State, but his biggest job this season will be to provide leadership for a unit that will most likely start two sophomores. He will need to focus on just taking care of his assignments on the field this season, and spend a lot of time helping the unit as a whole mature into a strong point of the defense.

Linebacker – Nigel Bradham -During the spring, Bradham was starting to show that he is beginning to grasp the defensive schemes of Andrews. He did not adapt to the college game as quickly as most thought that he might, but is steadily on track. The most knowledge he gains, the most freedom Andrews can give him on the field, which will make him more of a force for opposing offenses. Bradham has all of the physical tools necessary and needs to show that he is mentally prepared to become a big time playmaker for FSU this season. That starts during offseason practices and workouts.

Cornerback – Dionte Allen -Allen is entering his third season at Florida State and will be a redshirt sophomore this year. He is playing at a position that is in dyer need of a player to step up opposite of Patrick Robinson. Ochuko Jenije has done a decent job at the position, but may have some physical limitations that hold him back. Allen is a player that has talent, but has had a tough time adjusting to the college game. He needs to show that he can consistently lock down receivers playing both smart and physical football. He started to show potential towards the end of spring, but needs to turn it up this offseason and blossom into the player he the coaches thought he would be when they plucked him out of Michigan in their 2007 class as one of the top corners in the nation.

Safety – Jamie Robinson -Robinson entering his final year at Florida State, will need to help Patrick Robinson lead the young defensive unit this season. He has been on campus for four years already and when healthy, shown that he can make plays in the secondary. He moved from cornerback to safety last year and started six games. He needs to show that he can make the transition from being a sufficient safety to a game changer. He showed in the spring game, with two interceptions, that he can make plays in bursts, but needs to make it an every game habit.

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