When looking back on the 2013 FSU football squad, it’s fair to argue that WILL linebacker (weakside-linebacker) Telvin Smith was the most important piece of the puzzle. From his chilling pre-game speeches to his determination on the field, Smith was a definite leader. Being aggresive on the field is something I will always admire about Telvin Smith. It may not have always paid off, but it was very appreciated. It’s also the reason he led the team in tackles his only year as a starter. His ability to have an impact in both run support and pass coverage really made a difference. Smith accounted for 90 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 INTs, and 2 TDs during his senior season.
While losing a key player such as Smith, the ‘Noles aren’t short on replacements. Redshirt junior Terrance Smith will have the first opportunity to step up and replace him at the WILL linebacker spot. Smith, who started at MIKE (middle-linebacker) last season for the ‘Noles, seems to be a natural for the position. He has a perfect combination of size and speed, just as Telvin did before him. In his first season as a starter, Smith finished fourth on the team with 59 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He also tallied an interception and three pass break-ups.
Reggie Nothrup is a player who has shown a lot of potential during his first two seasons, mainly on special teams and in mop-up duty. Known for big hits and doing the robot, Nothrup has been a very solid player thus far. It will be interesting if he can take over one of the starting roles on the team. He has the speed to be an edge rusher, but doesn’t have the length you would like to see from an edge rusher, which is why he’ll probably see more time at the WILL or MIKE linebacker spot.
Another player who could make an impact in the WILL role is redshirt freshman Matthew Thomas. While Thomas is a better fit in the vacated SAM role, he has the versatility to bounce around every LB spot and help FSU create different looks due to his size, length, and burst. The redshirt freshman played excellently in the spring game, and he could be the most talented player among the linebackers.
EJ Levenberry is another another guy who, like Matt Thomas, could see some time at a few different spots. During the spring game, he was a tackling machine, blowing up screens and hitting the running back in the backfield. The ‘Noles will find some playing time for a player like Levenberry. And don’t sleep on sophomore Ukeme Eligwe, who will certainly contribute as well.