When summer workouts began a year ago, players like Menelik Watson, Demonte McAllister and Nick Waisome were flying under the radar with little in the way of expectations. By season's end, however, they were among Florida State's most productive players.
It happens every year that a few relatively obscure names find their way into bigger roles, and as the Seminoles get set to start another summer NoleNation is counting down five under-the-radar players who could be in line for breakthrough seasons.
Next up: Nile Lawrence-Stample
Career arc: A well-regarded recruit, Lawrence-Stample played just one season at defensive tackle in high school. That translated to a slightly steeper learning curve upon arrival at FSU. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2011, and he saw extremely limited playing time in 2012, recording 10 tackles for the season.
Why he's overlooked: Despite losing its two starters, Florida State is still deep at defensive tackle. McAllister and Timmy Jernigan are veterans with solid seasons already under their belt, and they figure to step into starting roles in 2013. Meanwhile, senior Jacobbi McDaniel returns from an injury and highly touted sophomore Eddie Goldman looks to take the next step in his career, pushing both Lawrence-Stample and fellow sophomore Derrick Mitchell to the back of the pack.
Why he'll produce: Earning playing time may still be an uphill battle at a crowded position, but Jimbo Fisher was effusive in his praise of Lawrence-Stample following an impressive spring game performance in which he recorded three sacks. Fisher said no player on FSU's defense improved more over the course of the spring, and at 315 pounds, he could be a force in the middle of the defensive line if an opportunity arises.
Projection: With so much talent surrounding him, it's tough to project a significant role for Lawrence-Stample at the moment, but both Jernigan and McAllister missed significant time this spring with injuries, and Mitchell and McDaniel both have problematic injury histories, too. It's not an ideal way to earn playing time, but as the Seminoles learned at defensive end a year ago, depth on the line is tested often, and Lawrence-Stample's progress in Year 3 offers plenty of reason for optimism.