Florida State Seminoles linebacker Telvin Smith doesn’t have the same name recognition that fellow senior linebacker Christian Jones does. Jones is a well known NFL prospect, while Smith’s outlook for the next level has a few more question marks.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that both are playing well in their final season at Florida State, particularly Smith.
Through five games, Smith leads the Seminoles with 32 tackles including four tackles for loss. He also had a 68-yard interception return for a touchdown against Bethune Cookman, and an important fourth quarter sack that helped seal the win against Boston College.
But while his stats help to quantify his importance to the Noles defense, they do not do him justice.
At 6-foot-3 218 pounds (and that might be generous), Smith is considered a little bit lanky to be playing linebacker in college. He sometimes struggles when blockers get into his body because he doesn’t shed all that well. That hasn’t stopped Smith from being a one-man wrecking crew in the run game this year though.
The one attribute that Smith has that can’t be taught is desire. Watching him play, he plays with an endless motor and a desire to get to the football. He pursues play all over the field and is flat out relentless.
In new defensive coordinator Jermey Pruitt‘s schemes, Smith is used in a variety of ways. He’s explosive enough to be used on blitzes from all over the field and has outstanding speed and change of direction when called upon to play pass coverage.
Besides the interception return for a touchdown, Smith has made other impressive plays in 2013. Last week, he was asked to defend Maryland‘s standout wide receiver Stefon Diggs as he worked across the field on an over route. While Diggs eventually got his hands on the ball, Smith’s position distracted the all-everything wideout and helped force a drop.
There are only a handful of linebackers who can cover the way Smith does for Florida State.
His skill set will be put to the test on October 19 when the Seminoles head to Death Valley to take on Clemson‘s high-powered attack. He’ll be responsible for slowing down the run game, particularly when quarterback Tajh Boyd takes off and runs.
If Florida State wants to pull off the upset, Smith will have his work cut out for him, but something tells me he’ll be up for the challenge.
B.L. is an ACC Football writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip or on Google.