Florida State’s success in adding talent and depth through the transfer portal under head coach Mike Norvell is no secret at this point. Last year FSU hit home runs with the addition of defensive ends Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas along with safety Jammie Robinson. The Seminoles are hoping for similar results on defense in 2022 with the addition of several transfers, which includes former UCF linebacker Tatum Bethune.
Bethune, who is 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, will bring some much-needed experience and depth to an FSU linebacker group that lacks both. The Miami Central High product led the Knights in tackles last season with 108 stops, including 5.5 TFL’s and two sacks. In three seasons at UCF, Bethune appeared in 35 games, where he made 16 starts and totaled 185 tackles. He enrolled at FSU in January.
The redshirt junior received a lot of attention once his name hit the portal at the end of last season but his relationship with new FSU co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Randy Shannon made what could have been a really hard decision a little easier.
“I actually knew him before I started getting recruited for college football in general,” Bethune said of Shannon. “So just outside of football, me and Coach Shannon had a very strong relationship. Then when he was at the University of Florida, he was recruiting me there. Then when he went to UCF, me and him kind of connected there. Just being able to play for him, just building that bond again, and to be able to see him every day, it was great for me. Now that I entered the transfer portal and I realized he was here, he’d gotten a linebacker coach job a few weeks ago, it’s a no brainer.”
The Seminoles’ newest linebacker also took into account his interactions away from the field with his new coach when considering whether to transfer to Tallahassee.
“Being a college athlete, you deal with the sport you play each and every day,” continued Bethune. “Coach Shannon is one of those guys that’s going to help you off the field. Coach Shannon is just a great dude. He’s just a dude that I can count on. I can come to him outside of football if I need help with class or if I just need help with family-wise, or my car broke down, I know he would probably be the first one to pull up. I love Coach Shannon.”
“Off the field, Coach Shannon is a quiet dude, but on the field, he’s very loud and he’s a leader too. So just being able to follow his lead and being able to understand how he wants things done is just good.”
Another reason Bethune decided to leave a thriving program at UCF was because of his new head coach and the direction he believes his new team is heading in.
“There’s no really specific reason on why I transferred,” said Bethune. “I love UCF. There’s nothing wrong with UCF. I don’t have anything bad to say about UCF. When I entered the portal, I chose FSU because I see where this program is going to, I see what Coach Norvell is building, and that is just something I wanted to be a part of.”
“Florida State has a bunch of guys that are very great athletes and that’s just something that I wanted to add on to,” answered Bethune when asked to elaborate more on choosing FSU. “Me knowing how Coach Norvell wants the program and how he’s building it, that is just something that I wanted to be a part of. I just feel good, I feel great, about my decision.”
Bethune also talked about the craziness of the portal and the lure to go back home and chance to play at Miami in front of his family.
“My first day was kind of chaotic,” said Bethune. “I’m pretty sure that was for everyone. My phone kept ringing for unknown numbers that I didn’t know for people from the West Coast, all over the country, so it was a curse and a blessing though being able to get a chance to play across the country. That was really it.”
“It was pretty hard to decide whether I wanted to stay home, but I realized I’ve grinded all my life not just to play at home,” Bethune said of his decision not to transfer to Miami. “I wanted to leave and experience some new things and see new things, be able to make decisions on my own and not be around my family. So as much I love my family, I’ve got to grow.”
With FSU utilizing a two-linebacker scheme the majority of the time last season, one of the bigger questions heading into spring is where Bethune lines up. Will he compete with DJ Lundy and Stephen Dix at middle linebacker? Or will he compete with Kalen DeLoach at the WILL linebacker spot? Bethune thinks he might be called on to play both positions.
“As a linebacker, you have to learn both,” said Bethune. “So I don’t have a specific position that I’m specifically studying. I am just learning both right now.”
Bethune also spoke about how his experience at UCF can help him at FSU and why he thinks he was so productive while playing for the Knights. He described a variety of aspects that are important, from film study to analyzing opponents to knowing what other defensive players’ responsibilities are in various schemes.
“My experience at UCF was just learning, to be vocal, and be a leader,” sad Bethune. “I learned that a lot from the guys at UCF and the guys I am with here. They taught me a lot. Just learning. I’m a quiet person off the field, but when I get on the field, and just seeing how everybody else is intrigued and into the game, it just helps everybody.”