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Who can have breakout seasons for the Florida State defense in 2021?

The term “breakout season” is a common phrase tossed around  college football. At Florida State, players like Brian Burns and Jalen Ramsey broke onto the national scene as true freshmen. For others, their impact on the field might not come until their second or third year in the program.  

In the list of five below, I selected defensive players that have a possibility of breaking out in 2021.

1. Stephen Dix Jr.

Out of all choices, Dix Jr. was the easiest to make. After starting the last five games last season as a true freshman, the Orlando native seems destined to continue his progression at middle linebacker in his second year. Dix Jr. seemed to be around the ball more and more as the season went on. He totaled 45 tackles, which was third most on the team. His freshman performance earned him a slot on the Rivals Freshman All American Team. With a year under his belt, Dix Jr. is a real threat to lead the team in tackles and help a defense that hopes to improve in every category. 

2. Jarvis Brownlee Jr.

Another easy selection was Brownlee Jr., who played in eight games while making four starts in the 2020 season. He finished with 26 tackles, including one sack on former FSU commit and North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell in the Seminoles 31-28 win. In his second year, Brownlee Jr. should have a better understanding of the game and naturally see things unfold quicker than he would last season. I think most ‘Noles fans understand what Brownlee Jr. brings to the secondary, but I think 2021 can serve as the introduction of the redshirt sophomore on the national stage. His interception against NC State last year is still jaw dropping.

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3. Dennis Briggs Jr.

Briggs is one of the few leftovers from Willie Taggart’s 2018 recruiting class. With the departures of Janarius Robinson, Joshua Kaindoh, and Marvin Wilson to the National Football League, Briggs has pressure to produce immediately. Florida State only managed 6.5 sacks from its defensive line in 2020. Additionally, the defense allowed 216.2 rushing yards per game. It’s clear the ‘Noles interior linemen must shed blocks and fill gaps at a better rate. Briggs has some experience but has always been caught behind his older peers. With the majority of the starting defensive line gone, the potential to break through is there. Many of the Seminole fans remain skeptical of the defensive line, so if Briggs can prove to be disruptive and highly effective, it would prove several doubters wrong.

4. Demorie Tate

It can be easy for Seminole fans to forget Tate, who was the highest rated of the 2020 FSU recruiting class as a five-star cornerback according to 247Sports. Tate missed the 2020 season due to academic reasons but participated in practices. Like many ‘Noles defensive backs, Tate’s natural athleticism is high end. While he has yet to experience an actual game, Tate’s athletic profile should allow for an easy transition to the collegiate level. The defensive back room in Tallahassee is a bit crowded, but Tate has the talent to compete. If his technique and football IQ progress in fall camp, he could find a place in the rotation and never look back.

5. Sidney Williams 

Williams might not be the most popular name but looks to be in contention for a role at safety after a strong spring. He produced 22 tackles in eight games last year as a true freshman. In games versus Duke and NC State, Williams totaled eight tackles in both contests. His name was frequently brought up in the spring as a player who was improving quickly. The safety position is filled with younger players, so if Williams grabs a starting position, he could be in a position to break out. 

All five of these players should be watched closely come fall camp, as breakout seasons could be on the horizon. 


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