As the Florida State Seminoles inch closer to opening kickoff, one of the most prominent storylines during this offseason has been the arrival of reinforcements to the interior defensive line. Last season, the Seminoles struggled to maintain their level play throughout the year due to a severe lack of functional depth to work with. Florida State played with a steady rotation of just four defensive tackles. Jacobbi McDaniel, Anthony McCloud, Everett Dawkins and Demonte McAllister were pretty much all the Seminoles had to depend on in the interior. While all are plenty talented and effective, the nature of the position and the toll it takes on the body is undeniable.
In 2011, the Seminoles look to take the field with seven and perhaps even eight reliable defensive tackles. Second year players Darious Cummings and Cameron Erving will be an immediate help and allow the Seminoles to shuffle players around into positions that are more suitable for their skill sets. Last season, Jacobbi McDaniel was used as a nose tackle. He performed well, but ultimately had a difficult time late in the season while playing with a dislocated elbow. With the additions of Erving and Cummings to the rotation, McDaniel will be able to slide back over to the 3-technique position. He and veteran Everett Dawkins will split snaps together, lightening the load for them both and making them more effective while on the field. It also won’t hurt to have the help of redshirt sophomore Demonte McAllister, who also played a great deal of games with considerable nagging injuries in 2010.
Cameron Erving, who stands at 6’5, 315 lbs. is expected to be the force that replaces Anthony McCloud at nose tackle when needed. Erving has continued to show great promise after having an impressive spring camp. If he plays to the level he has shown flashes of he can be just what the doctor ordered for a defense looking to avoid fatigue and sluggishness up the middle. Darious Cummings is currently listed as the third option at NT, but will also have opportunities to contribute. Cummings is 6’2, 295 lbs. The wildcard of the nose tackle group is fourth year player Moses McCray, who has always looked impressive physically at 320 lbs. The problem McCray has is staying healthy enough to contribute. In 2009 he played the majority of the year playing with a dislocated shoulder and he suffered a torn acl prior to the 2010 season, forcing him to take a redshirt. He is being brought along slowly as of now and his contribution in 2011 would be considered a bonus to a unit that is already well off.
One name that is creating a ton of buzz is that of the freshman phenom, Tim Jernigan. Jernigan is arguably the most talented defensive tackle the Seminoles have signed in the last five to six seasons. He arrived in Tallahassee at 6’3, 297 lbs. and possesses a rare combination of raw strength and agility. If any player will challenge the conventional wisdom of freshman defensive tackles making an impact, Tim Jernigan is the one. The Seminoles also signed a pair of jumbo defensive tackles in addition to Jernigan. Nile Lawrence-Stample and Derrick Mitchell both weigh in at 305 lbs a piece as true freshman. Lawrence-Stample is an athletically gifted player that played both tight end and linebacker in high school and Mitchell stands at 6’5 with loads of potential already showing in Fall Camp. In 2011 the two are likely redshirt candidates but could end up seeing time late in non-competitive games. Overall, the Seminoles have to feel better about their defensive tackle situation this season.
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