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Ranking Florida State Seminoles’ Defensive Backs for 2013

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Ranking the Florida State Seminoles' Defensive Backs for 2013

Melina Vastola-USA Today Sports

After a very successful season last year, the Florida State Seminoles defense will undergo a major change in 2013. In November, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops took the head coaching job at Kentucky, leaving the Noles after leading them to an outstanding statistical season.

A month later, head coach Jimbo Fisher named Jeremy Pruitt the new defensive coordinator. Pruitt had worked his way up the coaching ladder quickly by working closely with Nick Saban at Alabama most recently. Some thought the hire would lead to a shift in the Florida State defensive front (Alabama runs a 3-4), but for the time being they will still play a 4-3.

While Pruitt faces some new challenges as a defensive coordinator in the ACC, he will have one major advantage as he takes the reins: great defensive backs. Florida State is absolutely loaded with talent on the defensive side of the ball, particularly on the back end.

Under Stoops, the defensive backs were in zone schemes a majority of the time, with their eyes on the quarterback. That might change under Pruitt, who is more likely to dial up blitzes like his mentor Saban. More often than not, when teams blitz they play man to man defense behind it, putting additional pressure on the defensive backs.

This group of defensive backs will likely be able to handle it. As a group, they are big, strong, athletic and tough. And it’s possible (even though they lost Xavier Rhodes to the NFL) they will be better as a unit in 2013.

Here’s a look at the top 5 defensive backs for Florida State in 2013.

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5. Nick Waisome, CB

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Waisome (5-foot-11 170 pounds) might see a reduction in his playing time this year after it was revealed that Lamarcus Joyner was moving to cornerback. However, there’s no doubt that Waisome will still see the field; he’s too talented not to.

As a sophomore, he filled in when Greg Reid was kicked off the team and performed admirably. While he only grabbed one interception, he was challenged with a ton of targets. Most teams were wary of throwing at Xavier Rhodes and thought they could pick on Waisome. More often than not, he proved them wrong.

It will be interesting to see the exact role he plays in 2013, but it’s safe to bet that he will play great whenever he’s given the chance.

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4. Karlos Williams, S

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Williams is a physical freak at 6-foot-1 230 pounds. He’s so athletic that the Noles have him return kickoffs, something you don’t normally see 230-pounders do. He’s waited patiently to earn a starting role, and it appears he has done just that.

With Joyner’s move to cornerback, Williams is the odds-on favorite to start with Terrence Brooks at safety. In his limited time on the field, Williams has shown incredible talent and a troublesome propensity to take bad penalties. However, he gave Florida State fans a preview of what they could expect when he dominated the ACC Championship game with 11 tackles and a game-clinching interception.

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3. Terrence Brooks, S

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Brooks is a versatile athlete who could probably play any defensive back position. He’s always in the right spot and has great instincts with the ball in the air. Outside of a couple of embarrassing lapses against Clemson, Brooks was consistent in 2012.

This year, he will take over a leadership role in the secondary, commanding the back half of the defense for the Seminoles. He’s not as physical as Williams, but he’s not afraid to throw his 5-foot-11 195-pound frame into the mix either.

Seminoles fans can expect more of the same from Brooks as a senior.

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2. Ronald Darby, CB

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Darby was truly outstanding for the Seminoles in 2012. Although he didn’t start, he earned plenty of playing time in the secondary and was rewarded when he was named the ACC Freshman of the Year.

The Maryland native has excellent speed and fluid hips that make him an outstanding man to man corner. Last year he had eight pass break-ups and should have turned a few of those into interceptions. Despite being only 5-foot-11, he has long arms and does a nice job with body positioning with the ball in the air.

He could end up being the best player in this secondary when it is all said and done. He’s that talented.

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1. Lamarcus Joyner, CB

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Joyner was a first team All-ACC selection in 2012, starting all 14 games at safety for the Noles. Although he’s only 5-foot-8 195 pounds, Joyner is a vicious tackler in the run game and above average with the ball in the air. He has a knack for making the big hit or the big play when the Seminoles need it.

In addition to his defensive duties, Joyner plays a role on special teams as a kick returner. He’s a dynamic athlete who always seems to be around the ball. NFL scouts think highly of Joyner, despite the fact that he doesn’t have ideal size.

Although the Florida State defense might look different in 2013, one thing will remain the same. The best unit on this team is the defensive backs, and they will go a long way in deciding how successful Pruitt will be in his first season in Tallahassee.