Projecting FSU’s 2018 Starting Defense

A new coaching change always brings a renewed sense of a excitement to a program, and with his close to the 2018 recruiting class, Taggart has done nothing but fuel that fire. One sure fire thing that fans can be excited about regarding the 2018 team is the defense. This unit, listed in 4-3 personnel, boasts a 100% blue chip ratio, including 3 five-stars. I will be interested to see just how good this defense can be under new defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett. But without further ado, I present your 2018 Florida State starting defense:

DE: Josh Kaindoh

Pairing all the talent from this former all world 5* recruit with the valuable experience he gained as a true freshman sets up Kaindoh for a breakout campaign in which he should be one of the edge players in the ACC.

DT: Demarcus Christmas

After deciding to come back for his senior year, Christmas should play an important leadership role as FSU transitions into the Taggart Era. I also expect him to be a very productive player on Harlon Barnett’s front in 2018.

DT: Marvin Wilson

Another all-world recruit, former 5* “Big Marv” is ready to be unleashed, all 330 pounds of him. He could be one of the best interior defensive lineman in the country come December.

DE: Brian Burns

After a phenomenal freshman campaign, Burns got off to a slow start in 2018. However, he did turn it on at the end of the season with monster games against Clemson (4.5 TFL, 2 sacks, and 2 FF) and Florida (2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1FF). If Burns can bring that level of play more consistently, coach Synder and Haggins should have a top 5 defensive line in the country this fall.

WLB: Warner

MLB: Jackson

SLB: Brown

I’m not sure exactly how these three linebackers will fit into coach Barnett’s defensive scheme, but I do believe three are most prepared to be contributors this fall. Honestly, I see Jackson as the MLB, although Warner could also play that roll. In addition Brown could play either OLB positions. We’ll have to see where coach Woodie and Barnett and Woodie fit these guys into the defense come spring.

CB: Levonta Taylor

According to, Levonta Taylor led all Power Five cornerbacks in passer rating when targeted, yards per cover snap, and cover snaps per reception. I’ll allow those numbers to speak for themselves in regards to how important Taylor will be to this defense in what should be his final season at FSU.

CB: Stanford Samuels III

Although Levonta Taylor was one of the best corners in the country next year. I think Stanford Samuels III could be the best corner on the team come December. Samuels is a freak athlete with good size and great technique — Jalen Ramsey esque. He will make a lot of plays this fall.

FS: Hamsah Nasirildeen

SS: Cyrus Fagan

Safety is a position that will have a lot of players rotate in throughout the course of a game. In addition to Nasirildeen and Fagan, I also expect Westbrook, Becker, and Woodbey to be major contributors. FSU has a lot of talent at safety, but not a lot of experience. We will just have to see how much DB specialist Harlon Barnett can get out of this group.

Ryan Stalder
Football Writer and Baseball Writer; Student at Wake Forest University; Twitter: @RyanStalder12

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