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July 3, 2012
There's no arguing that Florida State returns the best defensive line in the conference, and probably the nation. All four starters are back after the Seminoles ranked eighth in the nation in sacks (3.08 per game) and tenth in tackles for loss (7.58).
Defensive ends Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner combined for 16 sacks and 23 tackles for loss last year, and could be even better this year, but the Noles' depth along the front line goes far beyond that. Six linemen who recorded at least two sacks last year return, and the team added the top two defensive tackles in the 2012 signing class - both players were ranked as top 10 recruits overall, regardless of position.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will also be loaded once again - seven linemen who recorded at least one start last year return while they return four starters from a year ago. Meanwhile, NC State returns every defensive end of consequence from a year ago, but they must reload on the interior. They were nearly as productive as FSU's unit - the Pack tied the Noles with 3.08 sacks per game and ranked 24th nationally in tackles for loss (7.0) - but a lot of those numbers were boosted by a linebacking corps that is completely gone in 2012.
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