Three players flying under the radar on defense

Florida State is looking to have a resurgence on defense under new defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, who followed head coach Mike Norvell from Memphis to Tallahassee. Fuller is confident in his scheme and the Seminoles have the potential to field a solid unit if they can stay healthy. He has a knack for improving defenses and doing so quickly.

Though he was the defensive coordinator for the Tigers for just one season, Fuller took them from No. 87 in 2018 to No. 33 in 2019. Coming from Marshall the year before, the Thundering Herd had the No. 22 defense. With more talent at his disposal with the ‘Noles, the results could be exciting.

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Here are three players flying under the radar on the defensive side of the ball as we near fall camp.

3. Josh Griffis, Defensive End

While usually a true freshman isn’t flying under the radar, Griffis has missed out on the hype that other signees like Demorie Tate, Chubba Purdy, and Stephen Dix have received.

Griffis enrolled early and went through offseason conditioning and a few spring practices with Florida State before everything was shut down due to the coronavirus. He has added 24 pounds since arriving on campus, bulking up to 260-pounds. Griffis has the potential to grow into an edge setter for the ‘Noles as he recorded 11 tackles for loss during his senior season at IMG Academy. One star player on FSU’s defense mentioned the Florida native as a player who has been standing out in workouts since the team got back together.

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It would take a heck of a fall camp for Griffis to earn the starting spot at defensive end but he’ll be in the mix for a spot in the rotation alongside guys like Quashon Fuller, Derrick McClendon, and Curtis Fann, among others.

2. Isaiah Bolden, Cornerback

Bolden redshirted in 2018 before stepping into a backup role in 2019 where he appeared in all 13 games, recording 10 total tackles, two pass deflections, and an interception. He made the first start of his career in the Sun Bowl against Arizona State with Stanford Samuels III moving on to the NFL but will have to earn his spot in the rotation after the addition of grad-transfer cornerback Meiko Dotson and former five-star prospect Akeem Dent moving down from safety.

The Florida native is a bouncy athlete who is still coming along in his coverage skills. He is a developing playmaker, evidenced by his interception in the season-opener against Boise State. Bolden isn’t going to be the star of the secondary but he can be a reliable option off of the bench for defensive backs coach Marcus Woodson. At 6-foot-2, 196-pounds, he has the size necessary to pressure wide receivers on the outside and the speed to run with them.

The competition for snaps at cornerback between Bolden, Dotson, Dent, Tate, Asante Samuel, and Renardo Green, among others, will be extremely fierce.

1. Deonte Williams, Fox

Florida State added multiple transfers over the offseason who have a chance to take on significant roles in 2020 and that includes former Baylor defensive end Deonte Williams. He’ll likely contribute at the Fox position for the Seminoles, where Janarius Robinson is currently projected to start. The Fox is a defensive end/linebacker hybrid who will be asked to stop the run, rush the passer, and drop into coverage.

At Baylor, the Texas native played in nine games with four starts in 2017 before a season-ending injury and he appeared in the first seven games of 2018 before suffering a devastating arm injury. He sat out in 2019 while recovering and is back to 100%. Williams finished his time in Waco with 26 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and a sack.

Williams displayed a mix of versatility, athleticism, and awareness during his time with the Bears, if he’s fully healthy, those skills will be useful for Adam Fuller. With the need for depth behind Robinson and Joshua Kaindoh, his experience at the collegiate level will be quite useful.

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