The Florida State Seminoles open spring practice looking to replace several key starters on the defensive side of the ball while adjusting to a new defensive coordinator as they defend their ACC title. To help ease the transition, the Seminoles will lean on linebacker Telvin Smith in 2013, expanding his role in what should a more disruptive FSU defensive system next fall. Smith, for his part, is all in.
Last season, Smith was an integral part of a defense that ranked No. 2 in total defense and No. 6 in scoring defense. But many of the key contributors on that defense are moving on to the NFL, including fellow linebacker Vince Williams who split time with Smith last season at middle linebacker. Now, Smith is the man in the linebacker and he’s ready to step up into that leadership role.
But don’t expect him to line up just at middle linebacker. The defensive tweaks taking place in Tallahassee will put an emphasis on versatility with its linebackers. Expect to see Smith lined up at middle linebacker, outside linebacker or even as a defensive end in pass-rushing situations. Smith will be tasked with disrupting offenses in the backfield in addition to dropping into coverage.
In short, Smith will be a jack of all trades for the Seminoles defense. Look for him to be a constant presence in offensive backfields, tormenting quarterbacks and taking down ball-carriers behind the line of scrimmage. He will be the key for FSU to maintain its strong defensive showing from 2012 next season even without the talents of their departed seniors.