Lars-Woodbey feels linebacker will help him show versatility

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One of the big preseason questions on defense was where players like Jaiden Lars-Woodbey would line up.

And through five days, the answer appears definitive – linebacker.

Lars-Woodbey has added nearly 10 pounds from his freshman playing weight and is up to 223 pounds. The sophomore was a standout safety in California before starting 12 games at FSU as a true freshman and recording 58 tackles and eight pass break-ups.

“I feel like it’s a great position for me as well,” Lars-Woodbey said. “Just doing what’s best for the team and I feel like it’s showing my versatility, which is a good thing. I just believe in my coaches. They’re going to put me in the right spot to make the plays that I need to make and to help the team win.”

Lars-Woodbey suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the spring but is back to full speed in the preseason.

“Everything happens for a reason in my opinion,” Lars-Woodbey said. “What don’t kill you makes you stronger. Honestly, it just made me more mentally tough and it helped me look at football from a different perspective.”

Early positive impression of Gainer

Amari Gainer was injured early in the preseason in 2018 but still saw playing time in four games as a true freshman. Gainer has turned heads in the first five days, earning frequent praise from outside linebackers coach Mark Snyder.

“I’m working with him more closely,” Gainer said. “I was with coach (Raymond) Woodie last year. So with coach Snyder being more of an outside linebacker kind of guy, he’s able to work with me on playing football more and not thinking.”

Gainer says he loves the new defensive schemes, which have showed more 3-4 alignments than 4-3 through the first week. The 6-3, 215-pound Gainer feels he is able to show his range and skill set.

“Definitely,” Gainer said. “It gives the linebackers a little more versatility and the ability to drop back, rush and kind of just play with the quarterback’s head a little bit.”

Nasirildeen’s position remains uncertain

Hamsah Nasirildeen has spent most of his time in the open portions of practice in the secondary. But FSU’s leading tackler from 2018 may still find playing time at linebacker, too.

“I’m going to be out there moving around different places,” said Nasirildeen, who had 91 tackles in 2018. “Coaches see me as a versatile guy so I’m trying to be that.”

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