A wave of top-end talent can make a team competitive, sometimes even at the highest level, for a short period of time. But the proven way to sustain success year after year is through building depth and versatility.
That was one of the first points head coach Jimbo Fisher mentioned Monday morning. Florida State in 2012, he said, has a chance to find another level of success through the power of depth.
"I think we have a chance, for the most part, to have the most depth we've had in a while," Fisher said, before later adding, "Having quality backups is critical. That's when you can become a program, when you can put guys in that are behind (on the depth chart), and I think we're getting to that status now and I'm looking forward to it."
There's no question the biggest part of building depth up to the standard of a traditional power like Alabama or LSU is found in the evaluation and recruiting of top talent. But beyond just getting those top guys in to the program, coaches have to mold their players first, and then place them in the right positions to succeed.
Enter a scenario in which some of the quality role players on Florida State's 2011 squad will find new homes in new segments this spring.
The most high-profile switch will be more of a slide, as former safety Nick Moody moves a few steps up into the linebacker position. According to Fisher, the rising senior looks more natural physically at his new position.
"We'd have liked to move him down a year ago," Fisher said. "We didn't feel good enough about the safety situation... He's actually running better now at 242 (pounds) than he did at 225. That's his natural weight, it's naturally what he is."
With Jeff Luc suffering an ankle injury that will limit his time, Fisher revealed that Moody is already slated to work with the first team at strong side linebacker (Christian Jones will move to weak side). And whether that development holds firm after cross-training and Luc's presumed return, Moody's position change is now a study in the Seminoles' depth.
If his teammates have any say, Moody will be just fine.
"I think it's going to be great," said defensive tackle Everett Dawkins. "I remember back in freshman year they tried to move him to linebacker and he kind of didn't want to do it. But now, that's him. He's got his weight up, he's a big kid, he loves to hit. I'm going to love him playing behind me, so it's going to be fun having him in the box with us."
"I feel like he's going to do very well," added safety Terrence Brooks. "Just going from having a (defensive back) technique and then putting yourself down there where he loves to hit, everybody loves to see him hit, I love to seem him hit. Just showing that he can cover those receivers, he has DB techniques, and he can hit. I feel like the sky is the limit for that."
Other than Moody's slide, there are other position switches in the lineup, including two defensive lineman that will take to the offense. Former defensive end Dan Hicks will play tight end in the spring, while former defensive tackle Cameron Erving switches from defensive tackle to the o-line.
"You've got to be patient, they've got to learn," Fisher said. "But you see the ability to do what they've got to do. That's the thing about Dan (Hicks) and Cam (Erving). Both learn very well."
"There will be a learning curve, there's no doubt. Offense, it's always harder to learn. There's a lot more going on."
Whether it's offense or defense, quarterback or cornerback, spring is the time to build depth everywhere. As Fisher says, you never know where and how badly you can get hit at the important time.
"I say that, Roy Williams would love to have a point guard," he said. "You think you've got that one guy that's an iron man, then all of a sudden you get banged. You've got to have it across the board."
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