Position Preview: Defensive Tackle
Key players lost: Timmy Jernigan, Demonte McAllister and Jacobbi McDaniel,
Biggest question entering 2014: Who will replace Timmy Jernigan?
Jernigan was one of the key members of Florida State’s defense last season. His ability to take on multiple blockers in the middle of line gave Florida State’s linebackers the freedom to make plays throughout the field. With his decision to leave a year early for the NFL, Jernigan left a gaping hole in the line. When his departure is combined with the graduation of key back-ups Jacobbi McDaniel and Demonte McAllister, defensive tackle becomes a major question mark entering the 2014 season.
Florida State has a lot of talented players returning at the position, but none of them are proven playmakers. The top returners for Florida State are Nile Lawrence-Stample and Eddie Goldman. Lawrence-Stample was a key member of the defensive tackle rotation last season when he served as the primary back-up at nose tackle.
Goldman spent last season at defensive end, but he may be Florida State’s best option to replace Jernigan. Goldman is the most physically gifted of the Seminoles’ defensive tackles and he has the best chance to match Jernigan’s dominant 2013 season.Don’t sleep on Desmond Hollin and Keith Bryant though. Both are very gifted players that will push for playing time in 2014.
The major wild cards at the position are newcomers Demarcus Christmas and Derrick Nnadi. They were both highly touted recruits in the class of 2014. If either of them can quickly assert themselves in the middle of the line it will enable the coaches to leave Goldman at defensive end and limit the changes from last season. The position battle at defensive tackle will be one to watch during fall camp, but it may not be fully settled until weeks into the season.
By: Brandon O’Connor