On Tuesday afternoon, FSU football received some disappointing news, with junior defensive tackle Darrell Jackson Jr. getting his NCAA waiver denied for the upcoming 2023 season.
Jackson Jr. is expected to be a focal point in the Seminoles’ defensive game plan. However, the coaching staff will have to figure out how to counteract the loss of the talented defensive tackle (if the NCAA does not reverse its decision).
Defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins is one of the best in all of college football at developing talent for the professional level.
He also has the luxury of having nine quality scholarship defensive tackles on the roster:
•Fabien Lovett Sr., RS Sr.
•Dennis Briggs Jr., RS Sr.
•Braden Fiske, RS Sr.
•Malcolm Ray, RS Jr.
•Darrell Jackson Jr., Jr.*Not eligible
•Joshua Farmer, RS Soph.
•Daniel Lyons, RS Fr.
•Ayobami Tifase, RS Fr.
•KJ Sampson, Fr.
LOVETT COMING BACK
While it was very important to have redshirt senior defensive end Jared Verse come back for the 2023 season, it seems to go unnoticed that defensive tackle Fabien Lovett Sr. also decided to run it back for his final season in Tallahassee.
In times in 2022, it felt as though the Seminoles got severely impacted by the injury of Fabien Lovett Sr., who suffered an injury late in the season opener against the LSU Tigers. Unfortunately, he did not return until October 29th against Georgia Tech.
While Fabien Lovett Sr. was on the field, the defense allowed 3.37 yards per play, 3.18 yards per run, and had an 11.5% sack rate.
Shield your eyes because it got worse when the former Mississippi State transfer was not on the field.
Without Lovett Sr., the defense allowed 5.27 yards per play, 4.82 yards per run, and had a 9.9% sack rate.
TRANSFERS COMING IN
The Seminoles struggled on defense (specifically stopping the run) without Lovett Sr. As a result, FSU added the likes of Western Michigan’s Braden Fiske (59 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and six sacks in 2022) and Miami’s Darrell Jackson Jr. (27 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks in 2022) to provide proven depth to the position room.
YOUNGER PLAYERS STEPPING UP
With the uncertainty of Jackson Jr. not playing this upcoming season, it ultimately means that younger players in the position will have to step up in meaningful roles.
Redshirt sophomore Joshua Farmer comes to mind as a player who could assume the responsibility. The Port St. Joe (FL) native appeared in all 13 games last season, where he recorded 15 tackles (six tackles for loss) and two sacks.
VETERAN PLAYERS MAKING THEIR PRESENCE KNOWN
Both redshirt senior Dennis Briggs Jr. and redshirt junior Malcolm Ray have been in Tallahassee for quite some time.
During their careers at FSU, Ray has combined for 41 tackles (eight tackles for loss) and 3.5 sacks, while Briggs Jr. has 64 tackles (eight tackles for loss) and 4.5 sacks.
Overall, the defensive tackle position room is still very talented, even if Jackson Jr. does not play in the 2023 season. Odell Haggins still has a ton to work with, as his position group remains one of the most talented on the roster.