Transfers will look to rejuvenate FSU's defensive line in 2021
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FSU Football spring preview: Talented transfers should bolster FSU D-Line

Florida State's spring football practice is scheduled to begin on Tuesday. Before the team hits the practice field, we are previewing each position on offense and defense.

Today, we focus on the defensive line, a position that has experienced a great deal of turnover from a season ago. With some talented transfers in the mix, though, the Seminoles might be able to take a step up in production in 2021.

Earlier Position Previews: Running back | Wide receiver | Offensive line | Quarterback | Tight end | Linebackers

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Jermaine Johnson (No. 11) had more sacks last year at UGA than all of the FSU defensive ends combined.
Jermaine Johnson (No. 11) had more sacks last year at UGA than all of the FSU defensive ends combined. (USAToday Sports Images)

It wasn't just one of the biggest disappointments on the Florida State team, it might have been one of the most disappointing position groups in the entire country.

FSU went into the 2020 season with a defensive line that was touted as one of the best in the nation, led by a projected All-American in defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and four more veteran players. Instead, Wilson, Cory Durden and Joshua Kaindoh combined for a grand total of 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

Janarius Robinson was the most productive of the quartet, finishing with 7 tackles for loss and three sacks, but he was far from a dominant force.

At any rate, they're all gone. Wilson, Robinson and Kaindoh are all preparing for the NFL Draft, and Durden has announced he's transferring. Which means the Seminoles have a whole lot of starting spots available as spring practice begins.

Returning Players

Even with those departures, a number of current defensive linemen have taken snaps for FSU in recent years. But other than Robert Cooper at defensive tackle, none have made an impact at this level at all.

That's going to need to change.

Cooper comes in with 65 career tackles, including 7.5 for loss. When healthy, he's proven he can be a disruptive force in the middle of the line. But other than him, there isn't a whole lot proven about the rest of the returners.

Mississippi State transfer Fabien Lovett had some nice moments last year, but finished with just 14 tackles on the season. Tru Thompson had 7 tackles, Derrick McClendon had 7, Dennis Briggs had 6 after opting out for the first half of the season, defensive end Josh Griffis had 4 tackles, defensive end Quashon Fuller had 3, and Malcolm Ray had 2.

The Seminoles also bring back Baylor transfer Deonte Williams, who played in just three games and recorded no statistics, and Louisville transfer Jarrett Jackson, who played only in the season finale against Duke.

Throw in defensive end Leonard Warner III, who registered most of his 12 tackles in 2020 as a linebacker, and you see how little production is returning up front for the Seminoles.


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