After watching Saturdays’ spring game twice, I’ve come away very impressed with how the defensive front seven looked. This may be somewhat surprising, considering the ‘Noles are replacing All-American defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and veteran linebackers Christian Jones and Telvin Smith. There was a lot of worry, not so much about linebacker, but regarding replacing Jernigan. And while the Seminoles won’t necessarily replace Jernigan, that doesn’t mean the drop-off at DT has to be too big.
The first player who jumped out at me on Saturday was Georgio Newberry. If you don’t know the story of Newberry, he was a highly touted 4-star defensive end coming out of high school who struggled at the college level. Last year, with it being clear that he wouldn’t be a factor in the front seven, Newberry made the position-switch to TE to help shore up some depleted depth at the position. However, tight ends Kevin Haplea and Jeremy Kerr should be healthy in 2014, giving the coaches the option to see how Newberry fares at DT. On Saturday, he was getting excellent push and penetration, and it really seems like he could provide some very good depth for FSU.
This time a year ago, linebacker Matthew Thomas was contemplating a transfer from Florida State, a school in which he wasn’t even enrolled. Now, he could be starting for that very same school. A 5-star recruit from South Florida, he already had the size and stature to become a dominant force; he showed Saturday that he’s ready to step into that role. He was in the backfield repeatedly, tackling the running backs or sacking the quarterbacks. He was very solid in pass coverage as well. It should be noted that he was doing these things against the first-team offense.
Every time a tackle was made by the Garnet squad on Saturday, E.J. Levenberry seemed to be the player responsible. Levenberry is a player who seems to be slept on by some due to being a bigger and slower player. However, I think Levenberry could be a monster run-stopper. He just seems to get to the ball and make plays.
Last year, Jameis Winston and P.J. Williams stole the show during the spring game, and went on to collect Offensive and Defensive MVP honors in the BCS Championship game. I’m not saying that Ro’Derrick Hoskins will do the same thing, but I’m also not ignoring his performance in this Saturdays’ spring game either. Hoskins registered two sacks and a pick-six, and many more QB hurries, as he just humiliated the second-team offensive line. I walked away Saturday with the same feeling about Hoskins that I had with Winston last year: that he could be the surprise of the season.
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