Spring proving grounds: Defense/ST

As spring practice nears closer, Noles247 takes a look at several names who could be poised to make moves to a more prominent role as the Seminoles prepare for the 2013 season.
Today, we look at defense and special teams.

Sophomore Mario Edwards Jr. could be featured in a more prominent role as FSU tries to replace four defensive ends from last year's team.

DT Eddie Goldman – 6-4, 320 pounds; sophomore
What we know: Goldman arrived at Florida State with a high pedigree – he's a former five-star prospect, 247Sports' No. 3 defensive tackle for the class of 2012 and was generally one of the nation's most sought-after recruits a year ago. Goldman had a fine-if-unspectacular freshman season, and with a slew of upperclassmen ahead of him in the rotation, fine is all FSU needed from him. He played in 10 games and totaled eight tackles, including one tackle for loss.

What to look for: Florida State lost a wealth of depth from its defensive line. Starters Everett Dawkins and Amp McCloud are gone, opening opportunities for the several DT prospects FSU has signed in recent years. Goldman is among the biggest returning interior linemen, and his ample playing time in 2012 suggests that he'll have the inside track to make a significant contribution in 2013. But he'll also face competition from veterans and underclassmen alike.

DE Giorgio Newberry – 6-6, 273 pounds; redshirt sophomore
What we know: Newberry was the top-choice back-up to Cornellius Carradine a year ago after Brandon Jenkins went down with an injury. He recorded 13 tackles and also forced and recovered a fumble. At 6-6, he's by far FSU's tallest returning defensive end, which perhaps could give him an edge when it comes to blocking passes.

What to look for: Florida State's attrition at the defensive end position makes its defensive tackle losses seem paltry. FSU lost Bjoern Werner, Cornellius Carradine and Brandon Jenkins, and also bid farewell to fifth-year senior Toshmon Stevens.

Newberry's experience likely makes him a frontrunner to take over one of the vacant starting jobs, but his grip on it could be tenuous. He'll have to fight off stiff competition from Chris Casher and Mario Edwards, as well as talented newcomers DeMarcus Walker, Davarez Bryant and Desmond Hollin.

DE Mario Edwards – 6-3, 282 pounds; sophomore
What we know: Initially pegged to redshirt, the former No. 1 recruit in the nation was activated after Jenkins went down with a Lisfranc injury. Although he participated in 11 games, Edwards played mostly sparingly throughout the season, but he did seem to get stronger – and subsequently received more playing time – as the season wore on.

He finished with 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. Edwards was particularly strong against Georgia Tech, contributing seven tackles against Tech's run-heavy offense.

What to look for:Edwards figures to have an opportunity to seize one of the starting jobs this spring. Sustaining his strong finish in 2012 could go a long way in determining his outlook for 2013.

Lamarcus Joyner's move to cornerback may have paved the way for Karlos Williams to start at safety.

LB Terrance Smith – 6-4, 215 pounds, redshirt sophomore
What we know: Not all that much. Smith separated himself last spring as Nick Moody's backup at strong-side linebacker. But seeing as FSU often played with five or six defensive backs at the expense of a linebacker, Moody didn't play all that much, so neither did Smith. Regardless, Moody's and Vince Williams' graduations leave a pair of vacancies and Smith appears to be next in line for one of them. The Decatur, Ga., native had 10 tackles (eight solo) in 13 games a year ago.

What to look for: FSU's linebacking corps appeared to decrease in significance in 2012, but come March the Seminoles will hit the field with a new defensive coordinator and a new linebackers coach, so perhaps it's unwise to base any theories on what's happened in the past.

How Jeremy Pruitt and Charles Kelly intend to use FSU's linebackers – and, subsequently, Smith – should come into clearer focus in a few weeks.

S Karlos Williams – 6-1, 230 pounds; junior
What we know: After a few weeks of will-he-or-won't-he regarding a potential position switch to linebacker, it's been settled: Karlos Williams is staying put at safety. For now at least. That move seemed to be further cemented by Lamarcus Joyner's switch to cornerback, which frees up a safety spot next to Terrence Brooks.

What to look for: One of FSU's most heralded recruits in recent memory, Williams has been slow to make a big impact on the field, although that appeared to be changing by the end of last season. Ironically enough, what probably was his best game last year – the ACC Championship Game – came at linebacker. So it will be interesting to see exactly how Pruitt decides to best use Williams' talents. There ought to be a few options.

K Roberto Aguayo – 6-1, 212; redshirt freshman
What we know: A consensus top-5 kicker in the class of 2012, Aguayo spent his 2012 watching and learning from four-year starter Dustin Hopkins. Aguayo is now the clear frontrunner to handle place-kicking duties for the Seminoles in 2013.

What to look for: After last season's adventures in punting, FSU fans are well within their rights to feel a little apprehensive with a new kicker taking over. Aguayo will be in the special teams spotlight from day one, so we won't have to wonder how he is taking to his new role for long.

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