BRADENTON – The questions will continue about Florida State’s defensive line until preseason All-American Marvin Wilson returns to the field from his knee injury.
But for the time, a young group of defensive linemen are making the most of their chances to make an impression. Redshirt freshman Dennis Briggs Jr. has made an early impression on teammates.
“I feel like he’s going to be a big-time player,” redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Cory Durden said. “I’m on him as much as anybody in the position room because I just know the potential that Dennis has. I just feel like with the help from coach (Odell Haggins) we can pull it out of him. In a year or two, he’s going to be a dominant player and first-round draft pick.”
Briggs played in four games in 2018, recording two tackles, a quarterback hurry and a pass break-up. He was able to get some game experience but, because of the new redshirt rule, is a redshirt freshman going into the fall. And now with FSU replacing a first-round pick in Brian Burns, the Seminoles are looking for linemen who can rush off the edge and defend the run.
The 6-foot-4, 268-pound Briggs has the capability to do that. He had 34 tackles for loss and nine sacks as a senior at Kissimmee Gateway, building a name as a versatile strongside defensive end.
In open portions of practices since Wilson’s injury last Friday, Briggs has lined up with the first-team defensive line.
“I always knew that I was going to help contribute to the team,” Briggs said. “Just being able to step up and help fill in that gap for a little bit just to really keep the defense going and don’t miss a beat.”
Briggs is flourishing under the direction of Haggins, a coach he didn’t think he would work with as closely when he signed with FSU but one he enjoys learning from on a daily basis.
“Coach Odell has always been a big reason why I came to FSU,” Briggs said. “Just that I feel his knowledge of the game is really, really vast.”
Super Bowl champs visit ‘Noles
Former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy as well as linebacker Derrick Brooks spoke to the team on Wednesday at IMG Academy during a weather delay that halted practice. While many of the players were anxious to get on the field, the experience of having two Hall of Famers speak to the Seminoles was a memorable experience.
“Just to have two guys here that are winners, not just on the football field but winners in life, to have them give our team a message, you can’t find two better guys to be able to do that,” FSU coach Willie Taggart said. “It was great.”
Brooks and Dungy spent time visiting with players on Wednesday. And Brooks, a former FSU star linebacker, was able to spend time with his son, linebacker DeCalon Brooks, as well as a nephew, wide receiver Keyshawn Helton.
Scrimmage on Saturday
Taggart had previously said that the Seminoles would hold scrimmages within daily practices. But on Saturday, FSU will go inside Doak Campbell Stadium in what will be a full scrimmage that also focuses on situations such as goal line, red zone and third downs.
“I want to see guys go and compete and execute at a high level,” Taggart said. “Not a lot of missed assignments and a lot of balls on the ground, penalties. We just want to play a clean game but also our guys understand the situation that we’re going to be in.
“They can’t just go out, line up and run the lines that they see in the playbook. They got to understand what’s going on in the situation and what to expect while we’re in that situation.”
Saturday’s scrimmage is closed to the public and media.
Ray rehabbing injury
Taggart said that freshman defensive lineman Malcolm Ray is rehabbing from a lower body injury.
“I don’t think it’s something that is going to keep him out a long period of time,” Taggart said. “Before he was injured he was making a statement. The time that he was in there, he was doing a really good job.”
FSU will hold its fan day on Sunday from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Doors open at noon.
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