August 4, 2011

Position battles to watch entering fall camp

With fall practice set to begin on Monday, we take a look at the four most intriguing position battles heading into camp.

4. Defensive End- Bjoern Werner vs. Cornelius Carradine

Werner put himself firmly in the driver's seat for the starting job with his performance during the spring. The 6'4 273-pound German was named Defensive MVP of the spring by the coaching staff and showed that he could be ready for a breakout season during his sophomore year. As a freshman he saw action in all 14 games, recording 3.5 sacks and six tackles for loss.

But just because Werner put together a solid spring doesn't mean he has the job locked up. Carradine was rated the top Junior College player in the nation last season The 6'5, 273 pound defensive end has a unique blend of size and speed that will make it tough to keep him off the field.

Prediction: Werner will earn the starting nod, but Carradine will see plenty of playing time.

3. Defensive Tackle- Anthony McCloud vs. Everett Dawkins

Going into the start of the 2010 season, Dawkins was the starter at nose tackle for FSU. He started the first seven games in the middle, but after suffering a thumb injury that required surgery his productivity dropped.

The second half of the season, McCloud replaced Dawkins in the starting lineup. The former JUCO transfer got better as the season went on, and finished the year with a career-high six tackles against South Carolina in the Chic-fil-A Bowl.

This spring Dawkins returned fully healthy, and has put on weight this offseason, bulking up to a little over 300 pounds in hopes of returning to the starting lineup.

Prediction: It will be tough for Dawkins to unseat McCloud from the starter's role, but a healthy rotation at defensive tackle will help increase production for FSU DTs across the board.

2. Safety- Lamrcus Joyner, , [db]Nick Moody, and Terrance Parks

One of the most surprising depth chart moves this spring wasn't just the fact that Joyner was switching to safety from corner, but that he had earned himself a starting spot at strong safety.

Parks or Moody are listed at the free safety starter. The pair started all but the season opener (Moody was out with an injury) at safety. While proved to be solid tackler, Moody recorded the pair's only interception.

During ACC Media Days Fisher reiterated the fact that Joyner would be a starter going into the spring, and that Moody and Parks would compete for the second starting safety spot.

Another interesting wrinkle in the safety battle is the arrival of five-star Karlos Williams. Williams was the top-rated safety in the 2011 class according to Rivals. While it seems unlikely the talent freshman could crack the starting lineup early in the year, as the year goes on he could push for more and more playing time.

Prediction: With the spring Joyner put together, and the way Moody finished 2010 it seems this will be the duo that starts at safety for FSU on September 3.

1. Running Back

The stable is stocked for FSU at running back like no other position. The top three leading rushers return in Chris Thompson, Ty Jones, and Jermaine Thomas. Now in the mix are blue-chip recruits Devonta Freeman, and James Wilder Jr..

Thompson emerged as the starter in 2010 rushing for a team-high 845 yards and six touchdowns on 134 carries. The 5'8 Madison County start, missed the entire spring with a back injury, but is back to 100 percent according to Fisher.

Thomas has started 18 games at tailback the last two season, but missed the beginning of the spring due to off-field issues stemming from a suspended driver's license. Jones has shown when healthy he can be just as effective as the other backs on the roster.

Wilder, was ranked the No.2 running back in the 2011 class. His 6'2, 219-pound frame gives him an extra size advantage over the other backs. Freeman, enrolled early, and impressed with his physical style this spring.

Fisher said that all five running backs will see time with the first team offense early in fall camp, and that they all will play in 2011.

Prediction: Thompson will start the majority of the games at running back for FSU, but that may not mean he will receive the bulk of the carries. This is a battle that will continue throughout the season, with Fisher riding the hot hand from game to game.

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