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What can FSU expect from its new DE?

Florida State did a great job during the early signing period addressing the future at pass rusher, but they also left room to add through the transfer portal. The Seminole coaching staff hit a big-time home run Saturday with the commitment of former JUCO #1 player and Georgia transfer Jermaine Johnson. Let’s take a look at the addition and how it could have a major impact on the FSU 2021 season.

It’s no secret that Florida State has struggled to get to the passer over the past several seasons. In nine games during the 2020 season, the Seminoles were able to generate only ten sacks, one of the worst numbers nationally and a contributing factor to a struggling defense.

While Coach Norvell and his staff did a really good job evaluating and adding some nice pieces for the future of the program, they still had to address the pass rush need through the transfer portal, whether that was a true rush end or an outside linebacker. Janarius Robinson’s decision to enter the 2021 NFL draft made that need even more vital. 

Just four days ago former Georgia EDGE rusher Jermaine Johnson entered the transfer portal. Soon after rumblings began about FSU’s interest, which turned out to be true as Saturday Johnson announced he’d play his last year of college in Tallahassee.

Make no bones about it – this is a big-time get at a major position of need. Florida State’s defensive ends just haven’t gotten it done as they had just three sacks combined in 2020. Johnson had limited snaps at Georgia while playing in seven games, starting three. He had 16 tackles, 5 sacks, and 5 TFLs. He also showed a consistent ability to get to the passer with 7 hurries. Basically, he’s coming in filling a wide-open hole on the defense while also looking to be a major upgrade. PFF, which is becoming a fan favorite of football fans, had Johnson as the 30th most productive pass rusher nationally. FSU didn’t have a guy in the top 85.

Let’s take a look at what’s to like with Jermaine.

 

  • He’s big, and is very athletic – Listen, Georgia has done a tremendous job recruiting defensive linemen and pass rushers. FSU will offer Jermaine a chance to play on a stage just as big as UGa, while also getting the chance to play a ton of minutes. At 6’5”, 250 pounds, Johnson plays fast, physical, and under control. He has an excellent first step ( this is high-level), can “bend”, and can accelerate very well.
  • He’s not a one-trick pony – While he’ll fill a major void as a pass rusher and will be the FOX, he’s shown the ability to be a multiskilled player. He’s a very capable run stuffer as he’s very strong at the point of contact. FSU’s ends have struggled setting the edge on a consistent basis. Johnson is adept in this area which will allow him to stay on the field as a three-down player. Also, he showed at Georgia that he can line up as an outside linebacker and drop into coverage. This is important as the FOX for FSU has to be able to cover in space. This box is checked. 
  • He can be a speed rusher or a bull rusher – Simply put, Johnson can beat defenders by using his speed to shoot gaps inside or use his elite initial burst to beat the tackle off of the line. He also has a good bull rush, as he shows great power. 

 

This is what the doctor ordered for FSU. There isn’t a better option in the portal or the JUCO ranks. FSU’s defense needed a player with true NFL potential at end and they got one. He hasn’t been a full-time starter since his time at Independence C.C., but nothing during his time at Georgia shows he won’t flourish in that role at FSU. A+ get for Norvell and his staff. 


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