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Monday, February 25, 2013
State of the Noles: Safeties

By David Hale & Corey Dowlar

NoleNation writers David Hale and Corey Dowlar are going position by position, looking at what FSU has on its roster now, and who might provide reinforcements down the line, projecting starters and evaluating the depth through 2015.

Up next, an abundance of talent has led to an interesting debate at safety.

Current scholarship safeties (6): Karlos Williams (Jr.), Lamarcus Brutus (RSSo.), Justin Bright (RSSr.), Terrence Brooks (Sr.), Gerald Demps (RSSr.), Nate Andrews (Fr.)

Potential early departures: Williams has all the talent to be a star at the next level, he simply hasn't turned that into a full-time job yet at FSU. If he does so in 2013, it's certainly possible he could be gone at season's end.

Predicted starters (Hale's picks/Dowlar's picks)
2013: Williams, Brooks/Williams, Brooks
2014: Karlos Williams, P.J. Williams/P.J. Williams, Tyler Hunter
2015: P.J. Williams, Andrews/P.J. Williams, TBD

Karlos Williams
FSU's Karlos Williams has flashed great talent but might have a better shot at playing time if he moves to linebacker.
Why they'll start: With the news that All-ACC safety Lamarcus Joyner would move to corner this spring, the biggest question mark at the position appears to have an answer. That, of course, was the fate of Karlos Williams, a five-star recruit who couldn't quite find a full-time role during his first two seasons at FSU and wasn't in line to win a job in 2013 either prior to Joyner's move.

Williams looked sharp in a one-game try out at linebacker in last year's ACC championship game, but FSU's defense utilizes the strongside linebacker less frequently, and Williams speed could be compromised if he added weight for a position change. That made safety the better option, and a job now appears open for him, where he'll team with Brooks for what figures to be a talented twosome in 2013. Still, Joyner was among the best in the nation at safety, so there remain questions about just how well this transition will work.

Beyond 2013, there are a few more nagging questions. If Williams performs well, the NFL could be calling by year's end. That leaves relatively little depth when it comes to established safeties.

The little-used Brutus is the only Seminole with at least three years of eligibility remaining who definitively projects as a safety. Andrews could fit that role, too, and a handful of the current crop of corners -- P.J. Williams, Colin Blake, Hunter -- could make the transition down the road. Williams physicality might make him the most obvious choice, but Hunter, who has already established himself as a top-flight nickel, could be a strong option as well.

Who might FSU add: Florida State has been in the habit of rotating corners and safeties to and fro throughout their careers, and it will be interesting to see if that changes, both on the field, and in recruiting. Under Mark Stoops, they recruited prospects who could play both -- usually.

Looking forward, FSU is high on a couple of players who are legit safeties such as Quin Blanding (Bayside/Virginia Beach, Va.) and Montae Nicholson (Gateway/Monroeville, Penn.). Some other recent offers have gone out to John Battle IV (Hallandale, Fla.) and Cortez McDowell (Locust Grove, Ga.), too. The Seminoles would like to take at least one, probably two in this class if they could.

Long-term grade: B. Florida State has a wealth of versatile talent in the secondary, and with Joyner, Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby providing quality depth at the corner position, it can afford to use some of that versatility to fill voids at safety. This is where Jimbo Fisher's philosophy of recruiting dynamic DBs will come in handy. Still, it would be nice to have a clearer picture of the position beyond 2013, and FSU would be wise to make safety something of a priority in next year's signing class.