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Freddie Stevenson expects battle at FSU

7/16/2012

It will be another year before Freddie Stevenson suits up on the practice field at Florida State with his fellow members of the Seminoles' 2013 recruiting class, but he's already getting excited.

He's added a handful of his new teammates on Facebook, hoping to build some relationships long before he arrives on campus. Stevenson's following a number of FSU's other recruits, too -- just in case they need a little extra help deciding where they'd like to play.

"I'll try to get them over to Florida State, too," Stevenson said.

It's hard to blame the 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker for being enthusiastic. He's been away from the game for far too long.

Stevenson was en route to a standout junior season at Bartow (Fla.) High last year when a broken fibula ended his season after eight games and 95 tackles.

During the time away, he's given plenty of thought to what lies ahead -- both at Florida State and, of course, his senior season with his current teammates.

"Being out for so long, I've been looking at a lot of my film, and I know what I need to improve at," Steveson said.

The scouting reports offer fair critiques of a linebacker still developing his skills, but Stevenson doesn't pay much attention.

"I've been harder on myself than anybody's been on me," he said.

So as he gets set for his final year at Bartow, Stevenson has put together a checklist of things he's hoping to improve about his game before the level of competition gets a lot tougher at FSU.

He's a powerful defender, capable of dishing out devastating tackles, but he admits he's occasionally a bit too passive in the open field for fear of missing a tackle. This season, he wants to be more aggressive.

In the passing game, Stevenson shows the athleticism and change-of-direction ability to keep up with most receivers, but like many young players, he has a habit of staring down a quarterback before the throw is made. This season, he's hoping to improve his coverage technique.

If Stevenson can make those adjustments, there should be plenty of playing time available when he finally does arrive on campus -- though there will likely be a good bit of competition for those snaps, too.

As it stands, Florida State has four linebackers committed for 2013, including Ro'derrick Hoskins (ESPN's No. 12 OLB), E.J. Levenberry Jr. (No. 13 ILB) and Tyrell Lyons (No. 32 OLB).

Stevenson said he's watched film on all of them, and he's been wowed by Hoskins' athleticism more than anything. But the extra competition suits Stevenson just fine. He likes the idea of fighting for a job.

"The (coaches) didn't guarantee me anything," he said. "I'm going to have to work for it."

That preparation begins now -- from scouting his competition to improving his own game.

A scheduling conflict will keep Stevenson from attending this week's camp at Florida State, but he's already planning an official visit -- likely for the Clemson or Florida games. And as far as he's concerned, there's no need to visit another school, though he expects several other coaches will keep after him in spite of his commitment.

At this point, Stevenson's sights are set squarely on what lies ahead.

"I just want to prove to everybody that Florida State didn't make a mistake," he said.