Florida State Seminoles: Demonte McAllister

The NFL draft concluded with 42 ACC players selected last weekend, and a slew more ended up signing free-agent deals in the days afterward.

Here’s a quick rundown of where the ACC’s undrafted free agents landed.

QB Chase Rettig, Green Bay Packers
OLB Kasim Edebali, New Orleans Saints
LB Steele Divitto, New York Jets
OT Ian White, San Diego Chargers
OT Matt Patchan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DB Albert Louis-Jean, Chicago Bears

K Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona Cardinals
G Tyler Shatley, Jacksonville Jaguars
LB Spencer Shuey, Jacksonville Jaguars
CB Darius Robinson, Buffalo Bills

RB Juwan Thompson, Denver Broncos
DE Kenny Anunike, Denver Broncos

LB Christian Jones, Chicago Bears
RB James Wilder Jr., Cincinnati Bengals
WR Kenny Shaw, Cleveland Browns
FB Chad Abram, Detroit Lions
DT Demonte McAllister, Seattle Seahawks
DT Jacobbi McDaniel, Cleveland Browns

DT Euclid Cummings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Lou Young, Denver Broncos
DE Emmanuel Dieke, New York Giants

DT Roy Philon, Pittsburgh Steelers
S Hakeem Smith, Tennessee Titans
DT Brandon Dunn, Chicago Bears
WR Damian Copeland, Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Stephen Morris, Jacksonville Jaguars
TE Asante Cleveland, San Francisco 49ers
DT Justin Renfrow, Arizona Cardinals
FB Maurice Hagens, Atlanta Falcons
S A.J. Highsmith, San Francisco 49ers
OG Jared Wheeler, Carolina Panthers
LB Jimmy Gaines, Buffalo Bills

OT James Hurst, Baltimore Ravens
QB Bryn Renner, Denver Broncos

DE Carlos Gray, Green Bay Packers
TE Asa Watson, New England Patriots
DL Deylan Buntyn, New England Patriots

P Matt Yoklic, Atlanta Falcons

CB Keon Lyn, Indianapolis Colts
CB Ri’Shard Anderson, Tennessee Titans
RB Jerome Smith, Atlanta Falcons

DE Jake Snyder, Minnesota Vikings

DT Derrick Hopkins, Baltimore Ravens
LB Tariq Edwards, Miami Dolphins
WR D.J. Coles, Oakland Raiders
G Andrew Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DE James Gayle, Tennessee Titans

DT Nikita Whitlock, Cincinnati Bengals
LB Justin Jackson, Detroit Lions
LB Zach Thompson, New York Jets
Florida State finished off a spectacular season with a national championship, and with Jameis Winston, Rashad Greene, Jalen Ramsey and a host of other stars returning for 2014, the expectations for next season are already sky high.

So if FSU is going to repeat as national champs, what are the big stumbling blocks on the road ahead? We take a look at the top five.

1. Rebuilding the defensive line.

[+] EnlargeTimmy Jernigan
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsWith Timmy Jernigan heading to the NFL, Florida State will have a big hole to fill in the middle of its line.
With Timmy Jernigan leaving early for the NFL draft -- he’s widely considered a top-15 pick — Florida State will have a huge hole in the middle of the line. But the Seminoles also need to find someone to rush off the edge, as Christian Jones did throughout the season and develop some depth after waving goodbye to Demonte McAllister and Dan Hicks. Nile Lawrence-Stample, Matthew Thomas and others could fill those voids, but it will be incumbent on emerging stars Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman to step up their games, too.

2. Developing new receivers.

It wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was nevertheless a relief when Greene decided to return for his senior season. Florida State’s receiving corps was exceptional in 2013, but it wasn’t deep. Kenny Shaw is moving on, and Kelvin Benjamin could follow. That leaves Greene as FSU’s only established, consistent receiver. Isaiah Jones, Jesus Wilson and Kermit Whitfield all got a taste of playing time in 2013, but they’ll need to do a lot more next season.

3. Finding new leaders on defense.

This might be the toughest task for Florida State. Telvin Smith, Lamarcus Joyner, Terrence Brooks, Jones and Jernigan weren’t simply the defensive standouts on the field, they were the heart and soul of the unit in the locker room. There’s still plenty of talent remaining on the unit, but no one who has had to step up and galvanize a locker room or push the younger players to work harder. Finding leaders on that side of the ball — Edwards, Goldman, Terrance Smith and Ronald Darby, perhaps — will be crucial to maintaining the unit’s immense production in 2014.

4. Managing the schedule.

If the knock on Florida State this season was that it wasn’t tested until the title game, the concern for 2014 might be that there are simply too many big tests. The Seminoles open in Dallas against Oklahoma State, but also have Clemson, Louisville, Notre Dame, Miami and Florida before the season is out. If this title was a victory for the ACC’s legitimacy on a national stage, the 2014 slate for Florida State only underscores how much tougher winning the league will be going forward.

5. Handling the hype.

It’s one thing to win when no one is expecting it. Winning when everyone has you pegged as No. 1 is a whole other challenge. Florida State will enjoy its national championship now, but in 2014, everyone will be gunning for the Seminoles, and the media scrutiny will be immense. Can Winston go a full offseason as a Heisman winner and national champion and not waver from his commitment to getting better? Can the coaching staff maintain that same level of dedication from a group that already has a title on its résumé? There’s a reason so few teams repeat as champions. It’s really hard to do.

Florida State preseason predictions

August, 30, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- At long last, college football is here, and while Florida State still must wait a few extra days before kicking off its season against Pittsburgh, it's never too early to throw out some wild speculation. With that in mind, we're making our predictions for the 2013 season. Feel free to point out our mistakes in December.

Most Valuable Freshman: Is there any answer possible other than Jameis Winston? The only problem is, no one who knows Florida State's new starting quarterback will admit that he looks like a freshman, and the hype surrounding him certainly wouldn't indicate he'd never taken a snap in a college game. Nevertheless, he's the heavy favorite in this category for good reason.

Matthew Thomas
Courtesy of Florida StateLinebacker Matthew Thomas could make a significant impact as a freshman for Florida State.
Most Valuable Non-Winston Freshman: Scrap the big-name quarterback from the discussion, and the competition gets a bit more interesting. Florida State's young wide receivers should all see action, along with linebackers Matthew Thomas and E.J. Levenberry and tailback Ryan Green. But by year's end, it'll be cornerback Jalen Ramsey who makes the biggest impact of any of the true freshmen. He's worked his way up the depth chart to assume a top backup role in spite of massive competition. And with injury concerns surrounding Ronald Darby, Ramsey's playing time could grow quickly.

Biggest Surprise: It's been 17 years -- the longest stretch in the country -- but this is the season a Florida State running back finally cracks the 1,000-yard mark. In fact, to make up for lost time, both James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman will do it. Jimbo Fisher wants to run more to take the pressure off Winston, and the competition for carries won't be nearly as stiff as it was a year ago, when the pair combined for 1,347 yards.

Biggest Disappointment: There's seemingly universal enthusiasm about the new defensive scheme from coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, and it's a system that should provide some big plays along the way. But it's a complex scheme, too, and odds are the learning curve will last beyond opening week. The blitzing and aggressive style should offer some highlight-reel hits, but will likely result in some busted coverages and ugly moments, too. Matching the success of the past two seasons will be a tall order.

Breakout Star: Wilder and Mario Edwards Jr. already have some box office cache because of their lineage, but both should make a name for themselves in 2013. But for a real breakout prospect, watch for cornerback P.J. Williams, who won a starting job amid fierce competition in the secondary. He's incredibly talented, and Fisher raves about his NFL potential.

Under-Appreciated Star: For a team with as much buzz as Florida State, it doesn't seem like there should be too many under-the-radar stars, but there's ample competition for this award. Rashad Greene, Tyler Hunter, Demonte McAllister, the interior linemen and a handful of others could rightfully call themselves under-appreciated, but at year's end, the man with the most out-of-whack impact-to-hype ratio will be Telvin Smith. He gets overshadowed on his own defense by a host of big names, but ask anyone in Florida State's locker room whose voice carries the most weight, and the results will be unanimous: Smith.

Top Prospect: FSU had 11 players drafted last year, including three in the first round. That doesn't mean the Seminoles won't send a slew of players to the NFL again in next year's draft. A handful of players -- Cameron Erving, Timmy Jernigan, Lamarcus Joyner -- have first-round talent, but by year's end, the FSU player most likely to be hovering near the top of draft boards will be linebacker Christian Jones, whose diverse skill set and immense athleticism will be put to far better use in Pruitt's system this season.

MVP Offense: If all goes well for FSU, there will be plenty of options here, but the safe bet is Greene. He's led the Seminoles in receiving yards each of his first two seasons, but 2013 could still be a breakout year. He was targeted an average of 5.4 times per game in 2012, but there will be far fewer reliable options in the passing game in 2013, and that number could go up dramatically. If it does, look out. He led FSU receivers in completion percentage (75 percent) and is among the top scorers in the nation, finding the end zone once every eight touches in his career.

MVP Defense: This might be the toughest decision, but given his versatility, his leadership and his role in Pruitt's scheme, Joyner is the best bet. His decision to return for his senior year was a boon for FSU, and his move to corner should showcase his skill set nicely. His size may still hinder his draft stock, but no one will be able to argue with his production.

Bowl Destination: A look at the schedule shows three significant matchups -- at Clemson, vs. Miami and at Florida. It wouldn't be a surprise if FSU took two of three, but the problem is that Fisher somehow manages to also lose one he shouldn't. Will this be the year Florida State doesn't have an ugly slip-up? If it is, a BCS bowl game awaits. We'll say FSU vs. Louisville in the Orange Bowl.
Jeremy PruittAP Photo/Don Juan MooreNew defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has inspired his players with an aggressive, attacking style.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The goals are posted right there in the defensive meeting room in big, bold letters.

It's a chart that hangs on the wall, where coaches track the biggest plays made on the practice field. It runs the gamut of accomplishments, from batted balls and interceptions to forced fumbles and sacks, and it has sparked a competition between linebackers Telvin Smith and Christian Jones this fall to see their names listed beneath each category.

"Telvin came close a few times," Jones said. "It keeps everybody competing and playing hard out there."

It's a nearly impossible task, but the mere fact that Jones and Smith are working to do it anyway underscores the impact new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has had on the veterans of Florida State's defense.

In April, the Seminoles had two defenders taken in the first round of the NFL draft and seven players selected overall, but this year's upperclassmen are starting from scratch with a new scheme and a new playbook. After two consecutive seasons in which the unit has ranked among the best in the country, the dramatic changes Pruitt has installed this offseason might have ruffled a few feathers among the leaders in the locker room.

Instead, Pruitt's aggressive style and willingness to let his best athletes strut their stuff has made him an instant favorite, and Florida State's veterans have embraced the opportunity to expand their repertoire under their new coach.

"I feel like Pruitt couldn't have come in at a better time," senior safety Terrence Brooks said. "I feel like it's just up from here."

[+] EnlargeChristian Jones
Kim Klement/US PresswireChristian Jones, FSU's leading tackler last season, has worked at multiple positions so far in camp.
The optimism seems universal in Florida State's locker room this fall, even if the reality of Pruitt's scheme has left even the most accomplished members of the defense baffled at times.

The lingo is different, the keys are different and the responsibilities are vast. The beauty of Mark Stoops' defense the past few seasons was its simplicity. Pruitt's defense is an entirely different animal.

"The thing with his defense is, you need to learn every part and every role," Brooks said. "The offense, the way they line up is going to change your assignments. So that means you have to learn everything on the defense."

It's not just a matter of changing assignments. For a number of Florida State's defenders, they're learning entirely new jobs.

Jones led the Seminoles in tackles last season, working primarily as the weakside linebacker. This year, he has played on the inside, outside and moved up to defensive end. On the line, senior Demonte McAllister is getting work at both tackle and end. Two-hundred-eighty pound end Mario Edwards Jr. is learning to drop back into coverage. In the secondary, virtually everyone is cross-training at nickel, corner, safety and the hybrid "star" and "money" positions Pruitt brought over from Alabama's defensive scheme.

"Once everything is just good and we know it like the back of our hands," Edwards said, "it's going to be real fun for the defense."

That's the mantra that has been repeated again and again since Pruitt first showed his new team highlights of the defense he helped coach at Alabama.

The difference, of course, is that the Crimson Tide have been running this scheme for years. At Florida State, it's all new. But what excites the Seminoles' defenders is the belief that, from an athleticism standpoint, they're every bit as good as Alabama, and Pruitt's scheme gives them a chance to prove it.

"This defense is an attack-style defense," Edwards said. "We're no longer just keying this and then going there. We have keys, but it's you see it, you go. No more reading."

Edwards may be simplifying things a bit. Pruitt's approach might free up his athletes to make plays, but it's still a thinking-man's game.

"It is difficult, it is a lot of key terms and different checks and a lot more checks than what Stoops' defense was," Brooks said. "But it's a really good defense, and if you apply yourself to learning it, you can make a lot of plays."

And that has been the key this offseason. Learning the ropes is an uphill battle, but the extra work comes easier, because the players are so uniformly excited about mastering it.

Chalk that up largely to Pruitt's own enthusiasm. Thanks to the fistful of championship rings he brings from Alabama, Pruitt has the gravitas to make an instant impression. But as his new team gets to know him, players are increasingly drawn to his down-to-earth approach. Pruitt is, after all, just six years removed from coaching in high school, and that's a mentality Florida State's players relate to.

"Coach Pruitt still has that young fire in him, and that's what our players have," Smith said.

Pruitt certainly has lit a fire under this defense, but the truth, he said, is that the changes he has made aren't all that immense. They'll run blitz drills in practice, but he insists he won't be blitz-happy on game days. He's working players in new roles, but there are no guarantees they'll all stick. And while he has thrown all he can at his players during fall camp, once the season starts, he'll be pairing back what he asks them to do on the field.

"We're putting in some things that are different for these guys, but when it comes to game week, we're only going to call what they know," Pruitt said. "You throw a lot of stuff at them, hope part holds, and as the season progresses, you pull out what you need each week."

Still, the number of tools at Pruitt's disposal figure to be vast, and Florida State's players are eager to show off what they've learned. And that's exactly what Jimbo Fisher hoped for when he made the somewhat surprising decision to hire Pruitt last December.

There's ample optimism that this year's defense can be every bit as good as last year's unit, but there's also a definite understanding that success will come in a much different way. The first step in getting there was getting the players to buy in, and as it turned out, that was the easiest part.

"I felt the kids wanted to play for him, and that's a great sign," Fisher said. "That's one of the things I felt during the interview process, and that's one of the key things -- they've got to want to play for him."
It’s probably hard for Florida fans to admit, but there are players on Florida State’s roster that are better than ones on the Gators roster.

And vice versa, too.

So what if trades could happen in college football? What if UF coach Will Muschamp and FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, because of their long-standing friendship, could work something out? You know, during an afternoon at their shared beach house in the Florida panhandle they hammered out a couple of deals to exchange players.

Here are two we think they could work out, and the ramifications for each team:

Throughout the summer, Nole Nation will be counting down the 40 players we're projecting to make the biggest impact on the Seminoles' 2013 season, taking into consideration everything from experience to potential to their spot on the current depth chart.

Next up: No. 20 Eddie Goldman

Position/Class: DT/Sophomore

What he's done: Goldman arrived on campus last year with as much hype as anyone from Florida State's highly-touted recruiting class, but he found himself in the midst of a numbers crunch at defensive tackle. Goldman made waves right away, with teammates praising his speed and footwork, but with a number of established veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, playing time was scarce. Still, Goldman managed to avoid a redshirt and appeared in 10 games, making eight tackles, including one for a loss.

Where he's at: With the departures of Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins, the path to a starting job is now much clearer for Goldman, but that doesn't mean he's won the spot. Veterans Timmy Jernigan and Demonte McAllister are the heirs apparent at defensive tackle, likely meaning Goldman will enter fall camp running with the No. 2s. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Jernigan played that role for two seasons, yet he's still projected as a first-round pick in the next NFL draft. Goldman may have even more upside, and his status as a second-stringer is even less definitive.

What's to come: Goldman will be one of the more intriguing players to watch during fall camp. McAllister missed all of spring practice, and while both players are likely to see significant reps -- FSU is renowned for rotating its D linemen -- Goldman has a real shot at stealing the starting job. Either way, his future is immensely bright. Those raving reviews about his quick first step and powerful strength are now supplemented by a far better understanding of the playbook. And as new DC Jeremy Pruitt works in some of the 3-4 technique his defenses ran at Alabama, Goldman looks like an ideal fit. He may not blossom into a star in 2013, but he looks to take a big step in that direction.
Throughout the summer, Nole Nation will be counting down the 40 players we're projecting to make the biggest impact on the Seminoles' 2013 season, taking into consideration everything from experience to potential to their spot on the current depth chart.

Next up: No. 22 Demonte McAllister

Position/Class: DT/Redshirt senior

What he's done: Through four seasons at Florida State, McAllister has largely floated beneath the radar while building a still impressive list of credentials. Despite never serving as a starter on the defensive line, McAllister has appeared in 38 games in his career, compiled 54 tackles, including 12 for a loss, along with 6.5 sacks. His 2012 campaign was his best, as he earned the most playing time of his career and finished with 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks, tops among FSU's interior linemen.

Where he's at: McAllister missed all of spring practice with a shoulder injury, but that hasn't changed his status atop the team's depth chart at defensive tackle. The departure of senior tackles Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins, along with three veterans at defensive end, means there's a significant void in experience on FSU's defensive line, which makes McAllister a valuable commodity. Of course, tackle is also one of the deepest positions on the Seminoles' roster, meaning McAllister will be pushed for playing time from rising stars like Eddie Goldman and a returning veteran in Jacobbi McDaniel.

What's to come: As good as Florida State's defense was in 2012, few players took as big a leap forward as McAllister. His role grew as the season progressed, and he responded with a sterling overall performance. The only question now is whether he can maintain that trajectory as his role grows again, but Florida State has the luxury of depth at the position. That means no one member of the group should have to shoulder too much of the burden. McAllister's best asset may be his maturity, which will be crucial on a defensive line that will see a lot of action by freshmen and sophomores. Still, if McAllister can improve on last season's numbers -- stats that were only exceeded by highly-touted Timmy Jernigan among FSU's interior linemen -- he could find a lot more attention from NFL scouts by season's end.
This week, NoleNation is digging into the most hotly debated topics of the summer in an effort to separate fact from fiction as the Seminoles get set for the 2013 season.

First up: The defense.

Fact or Fiction: Under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State's defense can expect even more production in 2013 than it had a year ago.

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Throughout the summer, Nole Nation will be counting down the 40 players we're projecting to make the biggest impact on the Seminoles' 2013 season, taking into consideration everything from experience to potential to their spot on the current depth chart.

Next up: No. 39 Nile Lawrence-Stample

Position/Class: Defensive tackle/redshirt sophomore

What he's done: After redshirting in 2011, Lawrence-Stample showed flashes of his potential in 2012. A victim of a numbers game as much as anything, he played in just eight games and recorded 10 tackles -- including a career-high four against Boston College. But all that time in the shadows of his more established teammates on the interior line only served to hide the progress he was making. Lawrence-Stample enjoyed a breakout performance in FSU's spring game, recording nine tackles, including four for a loss.

Where he's at: All those big numbers from FSU's spring game certainly managed to open some eyes within the fan base, but it's still a question as to how much it helped Lawrence-Stample climb his way up the depth chart. He remains solidly behind more established veterans such as Timmy Jernigan and Demonte McAllister, and he has ample competition from youngsters such as Eddie Goldman and Derrick Mitchell. But Lawrence-Stample's spring at least opens the door to a more intriguing fall camp.

What's to come: The numbers still don't favor Lawrence-Stample taking a major step forward in 2013, as Florida State is well stocked at defensive tackle. But while was destined for the margins of the Seminoles' roster in 2012, this year he's shown he can play his way into a larger role. At the conclusion of spring, Jimbo Fisher raved that no defensive lineman had made more progress than Lawrence-Stample, and if that trend continues into the fall, new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will find playing time for him regardless of how much talent surrounds him on the depth chart.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- By any significant measure, the difference between Timmy Jernigan's role as a reserve the past two seasons and the starting job that awaits him in 2013 shouldn't be a major overhaul.

Jernigan was already on the field for a majority of snaps throughout most games, and his impact on the defensive line already included more tackles than any other FSU interior lineman in 2012. Still, there's something about hearing his name announced before each game and knowing he's officially secured the job of starter on a unit that's been among the best in the nation in recent years that Jernigan relishes.

"I've been waiting a long time," he said. "So I'm really excited about it."

Jernigan's enthusiasm isn't entirely inflated either. Sure, his playing time isn't likely to shift dramatically, and he's already proven he's capable of handling a sizable role on the defense. But what's truly different for the junior defensive tackle in 2013 isn't about reps or tackles but about his place in the hierarchy of the defense.

For the past two seasons, FSU's line has been the foundation of its defensive scheme. The unit has helped the Seminoles finish in the top three in the nation stopping the run in both 2011 and 2012, and last month, it sent five players on to the NFL, including all of last year's starters.

That, of course, means a massive overhaul for the unit, but thanks to Jernigan's presence -- along with potential breakout stars like Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman -- the expectations haven't dipped much. And that's a burden Jernigan hadn't been asked to carry before.

"I feel like it's my D-line now," Jernigan said. "I'm trying to be a leader."

[+] EnlargeTimmy Jernigan
AP Photo/Phil SearsAs a sophomore, Timmy Jernigan led all FSU defensive tackles in tackles last season.
When it comes to production, there's little reason to question Jernigan's ability to handle a bigger share of the spotlight. As a reserve the past two seasons, he's racked up 76 tackles, including 14 for a loss, and four sacks. Despite playing behind Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins -- both in NFL camps now -- Jernigan established himself as a star, and he's already currying attention as a potential first-round selection in next year's draft.

That attention is nice, he admits, but his bigger role in 2013 isn't about burnishing his resume for the next level.

"It inspired me to work even harder toward what I want," Jernigan said. "I'm not really worried about the NFL or anything like that because there's so much more I feel like I have to do here in Tallahassee. I'll worry about that when it's time."

What Jernigan needs to do this season isn't simply a repeat of past performance either.

Jimbo Fisher has been quick to shrug off concerns about the massive changes on the defensive line, noting that Jernigan and Demonte McAllister were already FSU's most productive tackles, but it's hard to ignore the notion that life gets more difficult without established talent surrounding them.

That means Jernigan has to pick up the slack as the centerpiece of the line and help bring along the younger talent alongside him.

Before an ankle injury sidelined him midway through the spring, Jernigan was taking reps alongside a bevy of potential partners on the line, from veterans like Jacobbi McDaniel and Giorgio Newberry to youngsters like Edwards and Goldman. The rotations, he expects, will continue well into the fall, but he admits it's hard not to be impressed by the potential of some of the young guns.

"I like what they're doing because they're asking questions, they're very humble," Jernigan said. "They understand we have all the talent in the world up front but the biggest thing is we've got to get everything going. Those guys are going to be just fine. It's just a matter of understanding what you're doing. Not understanding slows you down, but those guys are going to be just fine."

Of course, Jernigan is dealing with a bit of a learning curve, too. While his position group was spared in the overhaul of FSU's coaching staff this offseason, the new, aggressive schemes being implemented by defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt have added some wrinkles to what had been a relatively straightforward approach.

But like the move from reserve to starter, Jernigan sees the changes as an opportunity to impress.

"That's what I like," Jernigan said. "I like to get off the ball and attack blockers rather than absorb them. It's going to be a positive. I'm very excited about it."
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 counted down five under-the-radar players who could be in line for breakthrough seasons.

Next up: Reggie Northrup (So./LB)

Career arc: A solid recruit out of Jacksonville, Northrup found his way onto the field in a limited role as a freshman in 2012, shining on special teams while making a few big plays in late-game situations at weakside linebacker. For the season, Northrup finished with 10 tackles, including six in a dominant second-half performance against Boston College.

Why he's overlooked: With two veterans clearly entrenched in starting jobs at linebacker and a massive group of young and untested talent behind them, there's a clear line of demarcation in the group between the big names and the players flying under the radar. And while Northrup is one of the few reserves with playing experience, it's also possible he'll be upstaged by one of the five incoming freshmen, including highly regarded Matthew Thomas.

Why he'll produce: Northrup's game wasn't entirely refined last year, but his athleticism and ability to find the football were obvious. He was a missile on special teams, and his work ethic and energy at linebacker impressed teammates. He's also versatile enough to back up Christian Jones on the weakside or step in on the strongside when FSU is in its base 4-3 set. Considering both Jones and Telvin Smith will be gone after the season, there's ample reason for Jeremy Pruitt and new LBs coach Charles Kelly to make sure a few of those young linebackers get some much-needed experience now.

Projection: Even with the starting strongside job open, Northrup isn't guaranteed much, and there promises to be stiff competition even for backup roles from Terrance Smith, Freddie Stevenson and Thomas. Still, it's in FSU's interest to find ways to get as many of the young LBs on the field as possible, and Northrup's playing experience in 2012 could certainly give him a leg up.
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: Willie Haulstead (Jr./WR)

Career arc: Haulstead burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2010, finishing second on the team in receptions (38) and receiving yards (587) while hauling in a team-high six touchdowns. He seemed poised for stardom, but a serious concussion suffered during fall camp in 2011 ended his junior campaign before it ever began. Haulstead returned in 2012 overweight and out of shape, and he saw only limited playing time, catching just three passes all year.

Why he's overlooked: It has been two full years since Haulstead was last a productive member of the offense, and by the end of 2012, he was buried on a depth chart that included an ample amount of talent. With established veterans like Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene along with potential stars like Kelvin Benjamin and incoming freshman Lavonte Whitfield, it's been tough to envision Haulstead rebounding as a senior.

Why he'll produce: Haulstead's path to regular playing time still isn't entirely clear, but he might be in for a bigger role than many have assumed. For one, he has shed the extra weight that plagued him last season. Haulstead has dropped 15 pounds and now checks in at a slim 217 -- and he's working to get down to 210. That has helped his speed, and it allowed him to be a much bigger part of the scheme this spring. Add that Benjamin has struggled with consistency and Rodney Smith is gone, and it stands to reason Jimbo Fisher would be looking for a productive receiver who can match up physically with bigger corners, and Haulstead could fit the bill.

Projection: Haulstead might never get back to the numbers he posted as a sophomore, but he won't be an overlooked piece of the offensive game plan this year. While Fisher figures to still spread the ball around, it wouldn't be surprising if Haulstead earned a sizable slice of the pie this year, potentially sliding into a starting role when FSU opens in three-receiver sets. He might not match the numbers Smith posted last year (38 catches, 524 yards) but a 25-catch, 400-yard season is certainly possible.
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.
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: Kevin Haplea (Sr./TE)

Career arc: Florida State ended up No. 2 among Haplea's college choices coming out of high school, and the 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end landed instead at Penn State. After the NCAA sanctions that rocked the Penn State program, however, the doors were opened for players to transfer, and Haplea decided to give FSU another look.

Why he's overlooked: Haplea arrived in Tallahassee just days before the start of fall camp last season, and what followed was a whirlwind. An injury to Dan Hicks opened the door for Haplea to get on the field routinely, but he was never an integral part of the offense. Haplea's blocking was solid, but he caught just three passes for 15 yards.

Why he'll produce: For the past four years, Lonnie Pryor has been a fixture of FSU's offensive game plan at fullback, but his departure after the 2012 season likely opens the door to some different looks, and Jimbo Fisher said he's planning on employing more two tight end sets this season. That's good news for Haplea, who might already be FSU's best blocking tight end. But while the grunt work was always a solid niche for Haplea, he showed some athleticism during the spring, becoming a regular target in passing situations, too.

Projection: After a full year in the program, Haplea has clearly made some major strides, and Fisher raved about his spring performance. While Nick O'Leary and Christo Kourtzidis battled injuries, Haplea kept producing. It's unlikely he'll ever be the offensive weapon that O'Leary could be, but Haplea's consistency at the little things should earn him a hefty slice of playing time in 2013.
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.

First up: Dan Hicks (Sr./DE)

Career arc: A two-star recruit out of high school, Hicks saw limited action at defensive end in 2010 and 2011, registering 34 tackles and two sacks. After the 2011 season, he was shifted to tight end, but a knee injury during fall camp ended his season. He switched back to defense this spring.

Why he's overlooked: Hicks' history doesn't exactly inspire much enthusiasm, and after a lost season in 2012 he was largely forgotten. While the move back to defensive end offered an opportunity for playing time at his original position, he's also competing against more prized prospects like Mario Edwards Jr., Giorgio Newberry and Chris Casher.

Why he'll produce: It might have been a full year since Hicks last competed at defensive end, but he looked the part of an experienced veteran during spring practice. Fisher raved after the spring game that no one on the defensive line had played so consistently well as Hicks, and where he once appeared to add depth at a position in transition, he's now a serious contender to win a starting job.

Projection: Hicks' star might never eclipse that of Newberry or Casher, but Fisher and new defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri don't care much about pedigree. When it comes to production, Hicks has impressed, and whether he ends up the starter, he'll get regular reps and should provide valuable experience at a position without much of it elsewhere.


Goodell Has Sit-Down With Jameis Winston
ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates discusses Roger Goodell's meeting with presumptive No. 1 draft pick Jameis Winston.