Position Previews: Defensive Backs
Key Players Lost: Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks
Biggest question entering 2014: Does Florida State have the best secondary in the country?
There are not many questions about Florida State’s secondary entering 2014. Even with the loss of Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks, the Seminoles have an abundance of talent in the secondary. Last year Florida State led the nation in interceptions last season with 26 and allowed the fewest passing yards per game. The secondary may even be better in 2014. Florida State boasts two of the best coverage conerbacks in the country, a rising star in Jalen Ramsey and a host of other talented pieces. Florida State’s defensive backs should make it very difficult for opposing team’s to have success through the air in 2014 and they should be one of the top overall position groups in the country.
Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams give Florida State arguably the best cornerback duo in the country. Darby is a true shutdown cornerback and he has the ability to take the opposing team’s top receiver out of the game. Darby’s ability to take away half the field from the opposing quarterback makes him one of the top CBs in the country. On the other side Williams uses his length to shutdown receivers. Last he consistently tested as QBs looked to avoid Darby. He was up to the task though and should be even better in 2014. Williams also earned the Defensive MVP Award in he National Championship thanks in large part to his key fourth quarter interception.
Sophomore Jalen Ramsey will replace Joyner in the nickle back role after spending time at both corner and safety last season. Ramsey, a former 5-star recruit, was one of the best freshman in the country last season and he should have a major impact in the nickle back role next season. The versatile position will allow him to contribute in pass coverage, run protection, and as an extra pass rusher. Joyner’s ability to wreck havoc in the backfield was a key part of Florida State’s defense last season (e.g., the Clemson game). Ramsey’s blend of size (he is five inches taller than Joyner) and speed (he helped FSU’s track team win an ACC championship in the 4X100) should enable him to match and possible surpass Joyner’s production from last season.
Florida State will also benefit from the return of safety Tyler Hunter, who missed the last 11 games last season with a neck injury. Hunter is a physical player and he fits perfectly in the strong safety role. When he is joined by last year’s surprise performer Nate Andrews, Florida State has a dynamic one-two-punch at safety. Andrews was an unheralded recruit in the class of 2013, but he made a major impact in the Dime role last season. He looks to be the favorite to replace Brooks at free safety and his coverage skills gives Florida State a safety net at the back of the secondary.
Ramsey and Andrews burst onto the scene as freshman last season. 4-star recruit Trey Marshall has a chance to do the same in 2014. He enrolled at Florida State in January and took the majority of the first-team reps in the Dime position during spring practice. Marshall is a big physical player and he should make an immediate impact in 2014.
By: Brandon O’Connor