FSU football: Fabien Lovett returning for 2022 boosts Nole defensive front

FSU football received great news Thursday afternoon when defensive tackle Fabien Lovett officially announced plans to return for the 2022 season.

Lovett was an All-ACC Honorable Mention in 2021, finishing with 28 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, two QB hurries, and two sacks. Lovett had a strong start before dealing with an injury, appearing in 11 games for the Noles.

Lovett likely would have been an NFL Draftee had his level of play continued before the injury took place. His return in 2022 will allow him to build on what he started in 2021 while bolstering the FSU defensive line.

He’s an impact player that will continue to allow some younger defensive tackles to develop and not be thrown into the fire so quickly. The combination of Lovett and Robert Cooper helped the Noles improve their run defense.

The Noles allowed 5.12 yards per rush in 2020, compared to 3.64 yards per rush in 2021. Lovett was the first big get for Mike Norvell in the transfer portal era, transferring from Mississippi State. Lovett’s return, especially given his situation with a son with medical needs, speaks to the belief in the direction of the football program.

It also speaks to the ability of Mike Norvell to foresee things. Imagine what the defense would have looked like without Lovett after Dennis Briggs got injured and missed the rest of the season? Having Lovett allowed players like Malcolm Ray and Jarret Jackson to be integrated slower, instead of thrusting them into the fire before contributing anything.

There was still a dropoff in play, but Lovett’s presence dampened that quite a bit. Lovett’s return means the Noles should have one of the better defensive fronts in the conference, and Adam Fuller’s defense returns nearly everyone except Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas.

There will be no excuses for that unit not to make improved strides in 2022.