Photo credit: Mitch White/Florida State athletics
Florida State reaped the benefits of having Jermaine Johnson II and Keir Thomas along the defensive line in 2021. The two combined for 18 sacks and Johnson earned All-American honors.
In 2022, the Seminoles will have to find a way to replace the production of the talented edge rushers.
Our position preview series continues with the FSU defensive line:
Defensive Linemen on the Roster:
Robert Cooper, RS Sr.
Leonard Warner III, RS Sr.
Fabien Lovett, RS Jr.
Dennis Briggs Jr, RS Jr.
Jarrett Jackson, RS Jr.
Jared Verse, RS Soph.
Derrick McLendon II, RS Soph.
Malcolm Ray, RS Soph.
Malakai Menzer, RS Soph. (walk-on)
Joshua Farmer, RS Fr.
George Wilson Jr, RS Fr.
Byron Turner Jr, RS Fr.
Patrick Payton, RS Fr.
Shambre Jackson, RS Fr.
Liam McCormick, RS Fr. (walk-on)
Ayobami Tifase, Fr.
Aaron Hester, Fr.
Bishop Thomas, Fr.
Daniel Lyons, Fr.
Dante Anderson, Fr. (walk-on)
George Sklavenitis, Fr. (walk-on)
While losing Thomas and Johnson does sting, returning redshirt senior Robert Cooper and redshirt junior Fabien Lovett on the interior is a huge plus. The defensive tackles combined for 67 total tackles, nine tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks last season. The continuity at the position makes it one of the most talented on the Seminoles’ roster.
However, Florida State needs to figure out a way to replace production at the defensive end position. The coaching staff went out and added Albany transfer Jared Verse, who had 9.5 sacks for the Great Danes last year. The Seminoles will also be returning redshirt junior Dennis Briggs Jr. who suffered a season-ending injury last season against Louisville.
A forgotten piece on the edge is redshirt sophomore Derrick McLendon II. The Decatur, Ga. native is the leading returning sack leader from a season ago. McLendon tallied 3.5 sacks for the Seminoles in 2021.
Though largely unproven, FSU has a lot of bodies along the defensive line. The Seminoles will need new faces to emerge alongside Cooper and Lovett.