There has been a lot of talk and excitement surrounding FSU’s linebacking corps heading into the 2020 season. Redshirt sophomore Amari Gainer, senior Leonard Warner and two true freshmen, DJ Lundy and Stephen Dix, are the names that have probably been mentioned the most this preseason.
But sophomore Kalen DeLoach has quietly been plugging away in camp this fall as he tries to learn his role in coordinator Adam Fuller’s defense.
Last season DeLoach, now 6-foot-1 and 213 pounds, played in eight games as a true freshman and he is hoping that experience will be of benefit as he battles for playing time heading into the Seminoles’ season opener against Georgia Tech.
“It just gave me the game experience I needed to come back with the confidence and everything that I have this year,” said DeLoach of playing as a true freshman. “It gave me the confidence on the field that I had the opportunity to play out there with some of the best teams.”
Like a lot of players in his position group he is learning to play two positions this season.
“I’m doing a little bit of Stud (outside linebacker to the strength of the offensive formation) and Will ( weak outside linebacker),” answered DeLoach when asked where he had been working in camp. “Stud is the base defense that I play, basically I get the opportunity to play in space and show my speed. For nickel, I play the Will position. I just guard the running back and tight end most of the time. It just gives me the opportunity to play man-to-man coverage.”
Coach Mike Norvell said earlier in camp that DeLoach had been impressive at the strong outside linebacker spot.
“We’ve got a great group,” said Norvell of the linebackers. “I think Kalen DeLoach has got a chance to really come along at the Stud position.”
DeLoach feels the linebacking corps has a versatile skill set that will be utilized by Fuller’s scheme.
“With this defense, we’ve got linebackers that can play all over the field,” said DeLoach. “We’ve got a lot of speed at the linebacker position so I feel like anyone can do out there and do whatever coach wants us to do. Maybe it’s come off the edge, maybe it’s drop into coverage or guard tight ends and running backs. I feel like we all have the technique to do that.
“Showing all the different schemes that we have, we have different packages that can show the aggressiveness of the defense because we have a lot of speed, we have a lot of dominant players on defense. His defensive scheme just shows that we’re going to bring a lot of pressure.”