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Garnet and Gold game: Defense Bold Prediction

Haylee Blitch/NoleGameday

Florida State’s defense made the switch from Charles Kelly to Harlon Barnett over the offseason during Willie Taggart’s transition. Barnett comes to Tallahassee after spending much of his coaching career at Michigan State.

While Kelly’s scheme revolved more around difficult zone concepts, Barnett will implement a much simpler scheme. The goal? For his defenders to think less and attack more. No longer will the Seminoles have complex assignments that require multiple reads. They’ll have one read to attack on every play.

One player who’s already transitioned well into Barnett’s scheme is redshirt freshman linebacker, DeCalon Brooks. The son of legendary linebacker Derrick Brooks got mostly scout team reps last season but now he’s ready to undertake a larger role.

Brooks has been running with the starters in practice and by all accounts is developing into a force despite his smaller stature. The Tampa native stands at just 5-foot-10 and 211 pounds which makes him much smaller than the average linebacker at the FBS level. In fact, he’s the shortest scholarship linebacker on the Seminoles roster by far.

Emmett Rice stands at 6-foot-2 while every other player is even larger than that. Considering the size differences, it’s quite remarkable that Brooks has been the one to stand out next rising junior Dontavious Jackson.

Now, it’s time for the son of a legend to begin writing his own chapter of history. Brooks will break out on Saturday, culminating a great spring for the redshirt freshman linebacker. His mix of speed and athleticism, as well as physicality, make him a mismatch over the middle. If Brooks can continue to not let his size hamper him, he could develop into something special, maybe even shifting out to defensive back later in his career.

Brooks was selected to play on the Garnet team and he’ll join a host of other talented defenders across the roster. He’ll have Levonta Taylor, Stanford Samuels, and Hamsah Nasirildeen manning his secondary and he’ll have young players like Janarius Robinson, Tre Lawson, and Ja’Len Parks on the defensive front. Plus, Dontavious Jackson, the most experienced returning linebacker on the roster, will be next to him in the middle.

While the teams haven’t been fully decided due to free agency, it’s safe to say that the Garnet team has arguably the most talent on defense. Watch for Brooks to make plays off the strength of his teammates.


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