We’ve discussed the FSU football secondary, offensive line, defensive line, and running backs with ESPN’s David Hale over the past few weeks.
He has all four groups in the top tier of the ACC, but where does he rank the FSU linebackers? For whatever reason, FSU linebackers have become the de facto unit certain people want to point to as a weakness or sucking on the field.
FSU will return both starting linebackers, Tatum Bethune and Kalen DeLoach, who ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in tackles last year. DJ Lundy is back, showing progress while finishing sixth in total tackles.
The FSU defense had 84 tackles for a loss last year, and 26 percent of those came from those three linebackers. Here’s what David Hale had to say about FSU linebackers:
Were FSU linebackers elite last year? Absolutely not, far from it, but they were nowhere near as bad as some FSU media suggest. Not to mention Tatum Bethune played with a bum shoulder most of the year, and Kalen DeLoach got nicked up too.
Backup linebacker and former safety Brendan Gant played real snaps and wasn’t terrible. Redshirt freshman Omar Graham will likely get his snaps since he transferred to Colorado. That’s likely an upgrade from what I saw from Graham Jr. in the spring.
FSU returning all of the experience from last year alone means they should be among the top groups of linebackers in the ACC. What will help the linebackers be better the most?
The FSU defensive front four should be consistently much better than last year, with the improved talent and depth creating cleaner gaps to shoot for opportunities to make more players at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Also, if FSU’s defensive front is more stout against the run(and it should be), that might help the linebackers in coverage. Either way, I expect the linebackers to lead the team in tackles this season if they can remain healthy, which has only happened once since 2017.