Florida State has a lot of holes to replace on a defense that ranked sixth nationally in points allowed, and needs former top recruit Mario Edwards Jr. to live up to his vast potential in 2013 if the Seminoles hope to advance to the Discover Orange Bowl for a second straight year.
Edwards came to Tallahassee at the top overall recruit but as a true freshman only appeared in five game–two of them starts–and recorded 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks in what could be considered a disappointing first season.
In his defense, Edwards played behind an experienced and talented defensive line last year that included Bjoern Werner, who is a candidate to be a top-10 pick in the NFL draft, preseason All-American Brandon Jenkins before his injury ended his season, and Tank Carradine, who would have been a first-round pick before his injury.
He did have opportunities to make an impact on the defensive line with the injuries sustained by Jenkins and later Carradine, but the 6-foot-3, 295-pounds end went through some growing pains as a freshman but that won’t be an excuse next season.
Florida State has a new defensive ends coach in Sal Sunseri and a new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt who replaces Mark Stoops, who took the head coaching job at Kentucky to tap into the vast potential of Edwards, who will be surrounded by three new starters on the line.
I mentioned the departures at end, but also gone are tackles Everett Dawkins and Amp McCloud, who will be replaced by Demonte McAllister and former Freshman All-America Timmy Jernigan. But, all eyes will be on Edwards, who will be the x-factor on a totally revamped Seminoles defense that needs to grow up quickly to compete for another ACC title.
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