Florida State Seminoles: Nick Moody

Looking back at the 2013 draft class 

April, 29, 2013
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Florida State registered a nation-leading 11 NFL draft picks over the extended weekend. NoleNation takes a look back at how they were scouted coming out of high school.

QB EJ Manuel
Selected by: Buffalo Bills, No. 16 overall
You look at the Florida State roster, and you look at the Florida State coaching staff, and the automatic assumption is this could be a rebuilding year for the Noles.

Jimbo Fisher does not see it that way. Not one bit. As spring practice opens today, Fisher needs to find new starters at some key positions, including quarterback, defensive end and linebacker. But he sees players who have had valuable playing experience ready to step right into starting roles, not wet-behind-the-ears freshmen in over their heads.

To him, there is no dropoff between the talent on his 2012 ACC winning team, and the talent on his 2013 team.

[+] EnlargeClint Trickett
Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY SportsThere will be a competition for FSU"s starting quarterback, but Clint Trickett has more game experience than the others.
"I ask people this: Lawrence Dawsey is arguably one of the best receivers in Florida State history," Fisher said during his pre-spring news conference earlier this week. "How many years did he start here? He started one year. How about Odell (Haggins)? He was a linebacker that got moved. Nowadays he’d be, 'Oh, he wasn’t what we said he was, you moved him.'

"Just because you don’t start a game doesn’t mean you’re not starter material. Do you understand what I’m saying? We’re establishing ourselves as a program again and guys still played as much ball as anybody else."

Fisher gave a host of examples. Every starter on the defensive line is gone -- ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, and tackles Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins. But the players expected to move into the starting lineup played extensively last season. Mario Edwards Jr. and Giorgio Newberry will start with the first-team at end; Timmy Jernigan, perhaps the best interior lineman last year, moves up to start at one tackle spot.

Vince Williams and Nick Moody are gone at linebacker. Into the middle steps Telvin Smith, who has extensive game experience and should have no problems moving up.

Then of course, there is the quarterback spot, a position that folks across the ACC will be paying attention to as the competition begins. Clint Trickett starts out No. 1 on the depth chart, and here again is where playing time has helped him. Trickett has played in 16 games with two starts behind EJ Manuel the last two seasons.

The other three players competing for the starting job -- Jacob Coker, Sean Maguire and Jameis Winston -- have either limited or no game experience. That does not take them out of the mix by any stretch. Fisher already said the position is wide open, and he has no timetable to make a decision. But having game experience is certainly not going to hurt him as the Noles try to find their leader on offense.

"From a talent standpoint, I think we’re still a very talented football team and we have guys with a lot of experience still playing," Fisher said. "We look at returning starters sometimes, it’s a very misleading factor about depth of a team and how much guys have played behind them. I’m excited about these young guys. Even though they’re new starters, they've still played like starters."

As for the coaching changes, six new assistants will be on the field this spring, including new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. But Fisher downplayed those changes as well, saying nothing would change about philosophy or with the schemes the Noles run.

"We're going to do things the Florida State way, the way we've been doing," Fisher said.

That means plugging new guys into the starting lineup and believing there will be few hiccups along the way.
E.J. ManuelJohn David Mercer/USA TODAY SportsEJ Manuel's workout at Florida State's pro day Tuesday was on point and helped the quarterback secure an invitation to April's NFL draft.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- EJ Manuel was eager to wrap up his throws at Florida State's pro day -- not just because he had a host of NFL scouts carefully critiquing each motion, but because he had plans for when it was all over. Today is also Manuel's birthday.

"I just had to knock this out, and now I can go celebrate," he said.

After solid showings at the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine, Manuel already believed he had plenty to celebrate before throwing for scouts today. He has worked his way into the mix of top quarterbacks available, met with more than two dozen teams, and earned an invite to the NFL draft in New York.

"When I got the invite, I was about to cry, really," Manuel said. "That was probably my biggest goal. I know there was a lot being said about me going into it, but I never listened to it. I continue to work hard, did well at the Senior Bowl and the combine, and the naysayers have pushed me to have a bigger chip on my shoulder."

Manuel insists he's not bitter about any criticism along the way, but he said it has pushed him to work harder.

He certainly appeared to help his cause today. Jimbo Fisher watched carefully and said Manuel was accurate on all of his throws and looked sharp in the process.

(Read full post)

2013 Spring Preview: Linebackers

February, 22, 2013
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Christian JonesKim Klement/US PresswireChristian Jones stepped up in 2012 after moving to Will linebacker, compiling 95 tackles, seven for loss. He'll be a key part of the FSU linebacker corps in 2013.
From the impending quarterback competition to finding replacements for departing juniors, Jimbo Fisher will have his work cut out for him during the next few months as he lays the groundwork for 2013.

With that in mind, we're going to go position-by-position looking at Florida State's strengths and weaknesses as the Seminoles prepare for the start of spring practice.

Previous entires can be found HERE.

Next up: Linebacker

(Read full post)

Noles 2013 snapshot: Tyrell Lyons 

February, 21, 2013
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With national signing day now beyond us, NoleNation takes a closer look at the next crop of Seminoles.

Vitals: Linebacker Tyrell Lyons (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast), 6-foot-2, 220 pounds.

Committed: Feb. 25, 2012.

ESPN.com grade: 81, four-star prospect.

ESPN.com rankings: No. 33 outside linebacker in the country, No. 186 player in the Southeast and the No. 74 player in the state of Florida.


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Noles 2013 snapshot: E.J. Levenberry 

February, 20, 2013
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With national signing day behind us, NoleNation takes a closer look at the next crop of Seminoles.

E.J. Levenberry Jr.
Courtesy of Eric LevenberryWhile he might redshirt in 2013, incoming linebacker E.J. Levenberry could get into games late.
Vitals: Linebacker E.J. Levenberry (Woodbridge, Va./C.D. Hylton), 6-foot- 3, 230 pounds.

Committed: April 24, 2012.


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Noles 2013 snapshot: Ro'Derrick Hoskins 

February, 19, 2013
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With national signing day now beyond us, NoleNation takes a closer look at the next crop of Seminoles.

Vitals: Linebacker Ro'Derrick Hoskins (Orlando, Fla./Evans), 6-foot-3, 215 pounds.

Committed: Feb. 25, 2012.

ESPN.com grade: 83, four-star prospect.

ESPN.com rankings: No. 14 outside linebacker in the country, No. 79 player in the Southeast region, No. 35 player in the state of Florida and No. 168 in the ESPN 300.

Picked Florida State over: Auburn and Louisville.


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Noles 2013 snapshot: Matthew Thomas 

February, 11, 2013
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With national signing day now beyond us, NoleNation takes a closer look at the next crop of Seminoles.

Vitals: Outside linebacker Matthew Thomas, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.

Committed: Feb. 6, 2013.

ESPN.com grade: 90, five-star prospect.

ESPN.com rankings: No. 1 outside linebacker in the country, No. 6 player in the Southeast region, No. 4 prospect in the state of Florida and the No. 6 player in the country.

Picked Florida State over: Miami and Southern Cal.


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Noles snapshot 2013: Freddie Stevenson 

January, 23, 2013
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To gear up for signing day, and beyond, NoleNation takes a look at each Seminoles commitment in the Class of 2013.

Vitals: Linebacker Freddie Stevenson, Bartow, Fla./Bartow, 6-foot-1, 230 pounds

Committed: July 4, 2012

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The Big Board: Rebuilding the D 

December, 17, 2012
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Florida State hasn't made it official, and Jimbo Fisher has remained coy on the subject, but it certainly appears the Seminoles will have a new defensive coordinator soon, with all signs pointing to Fisher hiring Alabama defensive backs coach Jeremy Pruitt.

The hire would come as a minor surprise, given Pruitt's lack of experience as a coordinator and the 3-4 base defense run at Alabama, but he's a rising star in the profession and a strong recruiter. That could loom large given the amount of turnover Florida State figures to endure on defense this offseason.

In addition to the coaching staff, which must replace Mark Stoops and D.J. Eliot -- as well as linebackers coach Greg Hudson, who could move to an administrative position -- FSU will be looking to revamp the bulk of its defense.

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Top 5 Moments: Williams' pick

December, 14, 2012
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With 2012 winding to a close, we're counting down the five biggest moments of the past season for Florida State. Today, we fill in the top spot on the list: Karlos Williams' interception to clinch the ACC championship.

Williams might be the best athlete on the Florida State roster, but through the better part of two full seasons with the Seminoles, all that talent had earned him only marginal playing time. He'd seen work as a kick returner and proven to be a dangerous weapon. He's filled in sporadically at safety, and his playing time had increased incrementally throughout his sophomore season. Regular playing time remained out of reach, however, until he was called into action midway through the first quarter of Florida State's biggest game of the year.

Karlos Williams
AP Photo/Chuck BurtonKarlos Williams' fourth-quarter interception sealed Florida State's first ACC championship in seven years.
For the pessimists who watched Florida State in 2012, it was a year of missed opportunities, a season that saw an immensely talented team play an immensely manageable schedule and still finish with two losses. For the glass-half-full types, however, it was FSU's best season in a decade, a return to the top of the conference, and a turning point for the future.

What is certain, however, is that 2012 will be remembered as the season in which Florida State won its first ACC title in seven years, and that might not have happened without Williams.

After Williams spent nearly all of the season at safety, outgoing defensive coordinator Mark Stoops shifted him to linebacker in preparation for the title game against Georgia Tech's run-heavy offense. With little depth at the position, Stoops knew an injury would be catastrophic against the Yellow Jackets' triple option, and Williams was an insurance plan.

As it turned out, the Seminoles cashed in that plan early in the first quarter when senior strongside linebacker Nick Moody left the game with a concussion. Williams entered, and he quickly made his impact felt.

Williams finished his first game as a linebacker with a team-high 11 tackles, playing the position with both natural athleticism and veteran savvy required to stop Tech's option, which feasts on catching linebackers out of position. Behind Williams, the Seminoles held Tech to just 183 yards on the ground -- nearly half its season average.

But as the Yellow Jackets lined up on first down at their own 37 with little more than a minute to play, none of that mattered. Florida State's offense had crumbled in the second half, and Tech had steadfastly chipped away at the Seminoles' lead -- and now it was threatening to send FSU home without its prized possession. It was a scenario eerily similar to a loss at NC State two months earlier, when the defense simply couldn't make a play to get off the field in time to prevent disaster.

"You just have flashbacks," safety Lamarcus Joyner said.

Of course, Williams wasn't on the field much in that game against NC State. In the ACC championship game, however, he got his chance.

Tevin Washington's pass was off line, and Williams tipped it in the air before settling under the ball for an interception, which he returned 41 yards before being nudged out of bounds just 4 yards shy of the end zone.

"[The receiver] came across and the quarterback threw a pretty bad ball," Williams said. "I just broke on it and tried to tip it up and bat it down. I just tried to make a sure catch, and that's what happened. I'm just happy I got the call, and we're ACC champions."

It was Williams' first big game, but it was also Stoops' last at Florida State, and he said afterward that he couldn't have written a better farewell.

"It's unbelievable story," Stoops said of Williams' dramatic conclusion to the game. "I just loved it."

Williams' older brother, Vince, summed up the performance by lauding his sibling's versatility.

"He can really do anything," Vince Williams said. "He's an outside linebacker that returned kickoff returns. The man is unbelievable talent wise. It's just get him a role, get him adjusted and get him out on the field to see if he can make plays."

Even if Florida State's season fell shy of immense expectations, its finale proved meaningful. It provided the Seminoles with a long-awaited conference title, and it punched their ticket to the Orange Bowl.

Just as importantly, perhaps, Williams opened the door for a sneak peak at what lies ahead, too.

"Karlos is a wonderful kid and he's going to have a bright future," Stoops said. "It was just fitting."

Werner rising on draft boards

December, 13, 2012
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More than four months remain before the 2013 NFL draft, and everything from the senior bowl to the combine to individual workouts can shake things up significantly between today and the moment when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the stage to announce his first name in April.

Much of that mystery trickles down to Florida State, which at various times since this summer has had as many as five different players discussed as possible, probable or even definitive first-rounders.

Wener
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesBjoern Werner is likely to be picked high in the first round if he declares for this April's NFL draft.
As it stands at the moment, however, the Seminoles might have just one: Bjoern Werner.

Never mind that Werner has yet to announce an official decision on whether he'll forego his senior season at Florida State. That seems a near inevitability after the loss of both his defensive coordinator and position coach, along with his firsthand witnessing of cautionary tales of fellow defensive ends destined for first-round status who later suffered season-ending injuries.

In his first mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay doesn't simply list Werner as a first rounder, but goes so far as to project the FSU junior as the third overall pick.
[The Raiders] would face a tough call between Werner and LSU DE Barkevious Mingo, who has a better natural skill set as a pass-rusher and would give the Raiders a lighter, faster edge rusher. However, Werner is the more consistent player and has a better all-around game.

If McShay's projection proved accurate, it would be the earliest a Florida State player has been selected in the NFL draft since Arizona took Andre Wadsworth with the third overall pick in 1998. Even if Werner slides a few spots -- Mel Kiper Jr. has him eighth on his big board -- he'd still be just the third first-round pick out of FSU in the past five years, and the highest overall pick since Peter Warrick (fourth) and Corey Simon (sixth) were selected in 2000.

But what of the rest of the Seminoles' 2013 draft class? Here's a quick look at where the other potential pros might stand.

(Read full post)

Weekend rewind: Title game edition

December, 3, 2012
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Here’s a look back at Florida State’s 20-15 win in the Dr Pepper ACC championship game:

The good: Florida State’s defense. Wow, what a smothering job on the triple option. And the Noles did it with two of their starters -- linebacker Nick Moody and defensive end Tank Carradine -- sidelined with injuries. The Jackets were held to just 118 rushing yards after entering the game with an average of 312.54, good for No. 3 in the nation. It was only fitting that the defense came to play, as it was the final farewell for coordinator Mark Stoops, who on Sunday was introduced as Kentucky’s next head coach.

The bad: Florida State’s offense in the second half. The Noles were shut out. It was only the second time all season FSU was held scoreless in a half. The other time? At NC State, of course. It was the first time the ACC champ didn’t score in the second half.

[+] EnlargeJames Wilder Jr.
Jeremy Brevard/US PresswireSeminoles running back James Wilder Jr. had a stellar game against Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game.
The ugly: Georgia Tech is bowl eligible at 6-7, thanks to a waiver by the NCAA. Even uglier: They’ve gotta lineup against USC in El Paso, Texas, to try to snap Paul Johnson’s 0-4 record in bowl games.

The ugly II: The attendance. It was well-documented, well-Tweeted, and well, about half empty.

The moment: Following the game, Stoops stood in front of the Florida State band and tipped his brand new ACC champions hat to them. The band members honored him with a chant of “thank you coach!” It was too much for him. “I gotta get out of here,” he mumbled. “This is embarrassing.”

The stat: 194-183. The Seminoles outgained one of the most of the nation's most prolific rushing offenses, with MVP James Wilder Jr. leading the way.

The stat II: Florida State entered Saturday’s game with 3,284 yards passing and 2,445 rushing. With 194 yards rushing in the game, the Seminoles became just the second FSU squad to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 2,500 yards in a season, joining the 1993 squad (3,909 yards, 2,667 rushing).

The random stat: Florida State moved to 11-0 when Devonta Freeman scores a touchdown.

The play: Karlos Williams, who was playing linebacker for the first time all season, snagged his first career interception with less than a minute remaining to seal the win.

The record: Tevin Washington’s 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was his 19th of the season, setting the ACC single season record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. Washington is also fourth among ACC quarterbacks with 2,159 career rushing yards.

The record II: FSU senior kicker Dustin Hopkins made three extra points in the first half to give him 133 points this season, setting a new ACC record. The previous mark was held by former Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams (132) set during the 2009 season.

The quote: "Everybody has told them they're not very good and they don't belong, and I think they wanted to show that they did, that they did belong. And, like I said, they came out and played their tail off. They played with some effort and some heart." -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson

3 Up, 3 Down: FSU 21, Georgia Tech 15 

December, 2, 2012
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For 30 minutes, Saturday's game offered an eerie reminder of Florida State's low point as a sluggish second half bore a stark resemblance to an October loss to NC State. In the end, however, FSU made just enough plays to secure its first ACC championship in seven years, and celebrate its biggest win of the season.

Here's a quick look at some of the players who made the fourth quarter interesting and helped secure a Discover Orange Bowl berth in the end.

THREE UP

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- EJ Manuel walked off the field last week wounded.

His head was woozy and his body beaten after a physical game against Florida, but it was the mental scars that were so evident when it was over. Manuel was beaten, his final home game concluding as one of his worst.
[+] EnlargeEJ Manuel
Sam Sharpe/US PresswireEJ Manuel was the starter in FSU's last appearance in tha ACC title game, but threw two interceptions in the loss to Virginia Tech.

Manuel's misery was intense, but it was short lived.

"He’s been through this enough where he’ll put it behind him because there is a lot to accomplish," Jimbo Fisher said.

Manuel gets his second crack at an ACC championship and his first shot at redemption following the loss to Florida when he takes on Georgia Tech's woeful defense Saturday with a conference title hanging in the balance.

It won't erase the scars of Florida, but it would be an accomplishment no other FSU quarterback has managed in seven years.

“It is a championship game and it hasn’t been done here since ’05," Manuel said. "You just have to move on, process [the loss] and understand why you made those mistakes. Can’t go out there and do that [this] week.”

Manuel is making his second ACC championship game start. The first came as something of a surprise against Virginia Tech in 2010, and Manuel managed to impress -- completing 75 percent of his passes and throwing for 288 yards -- but this time he expects even more.

“It’s kind of like a second bowl game," Manuel said. "The implications of this game are huge and I understand that, my teammates understand that, so we have to get the job done.”

(Read full post)

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