As we talked about in the cornerback preview the entire defense is expected to have competition at every spot. Linebackers is arguably the most experienced position on that side of the ball, but with a new coach expect the players to have to prove their worth as they fight for that coveted starting role.
NoleDigest previews the positions are talks about what we may see after the spring is over.
Key Returnees: Nigel Bradham, Kendall Smith, Nigel Carr and Mister Alexander
Key New Player: Jeff Luc
2009 in Review: The linebackers for Florida State had a rough go last year as the entire defense was not up to FSU standards. Dekoda Watson was up and down all year and didn't have the season most expected him to have. Kendall Smith struggled with his move inside, and as a whole the linebackers missed a lot of tackles and gave up plays all around the field. The end of the season saw much better play from Nigel Bradham as he went on a tear and ended up leading the team in tackles. Vince Williams showed potential as a run-stuffing middle linebacker as a freshman but had to take a redshirt last year due to a back injury. Mister Alexander showed flashed of being a very good pass rusher in the "Prowler" scheme the coaches created for important passing downs.
Likely starters heading into spring: Nigel Bradham, Kendall Smith and Nigel Carr
What to expect this spring: Coach Hudson made it clear that if you don't tackle well, you aren't going to play. So expect him to work on form when it comes to tackling. FSU fans have to be honest and realize that this unit had been vastly under-coached for a while. Now that there is some new blood there the expectation as that we'll see better play and technique from the guys across the board.
The linebacker spot isn't deep for the spring as FSU looks like they'll have 6 linebackers that are ready to go. Mo Harris and Aaron Gresham have been hurt the majority of their careers at FSU, so what can expect from them? Vince Williams did pretty well in workouts and has reportedly lost over 10 pounds and is moving around very well.
Other than Bradham the guy at this position that has created excitement is freshmen Jeff Luc. The 2010 signee enrolled early this past spring to get a jump on his career both on and off the field. He is a guy to keep an eye on as he has excelled in the new Strength and Conditioning program to date. He is expected to push for the starting "Mike" spot this spring.
Speaking of Bradham those close to the program expect the rising junior to have a break-out season. Early on last year Nigel struggled in spots, but as he let the game come to him towards the end of the year he really turned it on. Clemson, Maryland and Florida were 3 games were he was dominant. He has to step up this spring and become that true force many feel he has the potential to become.
Nigel Carr came in as a high school All-American and heralded linebacker. His first few years he sat behind Dekoda Watson, and when Watson was hurt Carr would normally fill that starting role. Nigel's big thing is that he often will take himself out of plays by trying to do too much. Look for Hudson to work on that as Carr has the potential to be a standout if he can remain focused on the task at hand.
Mister Alexander was finally healthy last year and he showed some potential. He was arguably the teams best pass rusher at the end of the season. With the Prowler defense maybe going away what can we expect from him?
There will be a talent influx once the 2010 signees come in the summer, but there is more than enough talent on the roster for spring football for the coaches to find a solid base from this unit. It's important that the biggest take-away from the spring is that they understand Hudson's expectations and the schemes Coach Stoops is bringing to the table.
Questions to ponder: Is Bradham ready to realize the potential he has? Can Nigel Carr finally earn that starting role? Will the play of Luc and Williams slide Kendall Smith back outside? Is Coach Hudson going to use his guys at multiple spots? What will Alexander's role be in this defense?