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Thomas brings much needed experience to FSU defensive front

DT Keir Thomas brings 47 games with of college experience to FSU’s defensive line. (Photo courtesy of USC Athletics.)

With the departures of Marvin Wilson, Cory Durden, Joshua Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson from its defensive line from last season’s roster, FSU coach Mike Norvell and defensive coordinator Adam Fuller knew they needed to explore the transfer portal to add some needed experience to the front for next season. And by all accounts they have been exceedingly successful.

FSU has added two defensive linemen to its roster through the portal within the last month, including South Carolina defensive end/defensive tackle Keir Thomas. The former Gamecock and Miami Central High School product joins Georgia transfer Jermaine Johnson as the newest members of FSU’s defensive front.

“We’re fired up about the playmaking ability Keir brings to our defensive front,” said Norvell when announcing the addition of the 6-foot-2 and 275-pound defender to the 2021 roster. “He will play primarily at our FOX position in base situations but will be able to contribute at any position along the defensive front. He plays with tremendous passion and an attacking approach. He will be a key contributor in his senior season.”

Thomas’ 47 career games make him by a wide margin the most experienced player among FSU’s front four. Nose tackle Robert Cooper, who is expected to be a starter in the fall, is the next most experienced lineman on FSU’s front with 32 career appearances. To put that in perspective, three of FSU’s top returning defensive linemen Tru Thompson, Fabien Lovett and Dennis Briggs have a combined for 53 appearances in their college careers.

He also brings versatility to the FSU defensive line. Thomas lined up at defensive tackle regularly for South Carolina and he expects to be used in a variety of ways by Norvell and Fuller.

“I think I’ll play a little bit of everything across the front, but I know I’ll probably start off playing on the edge,” Thomas said. “I don’t care. I just like playing ball, it doesn’t matter where you put me. If coach needs me to hike the ball, I’ll hike the ball.”

Thomas said FSU was one of the first schools to reach out to him when he entered the portal and he had a relationship with defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins from his high school days.

“When I hit the portal they were one of the first schools to contact me,” said Thomas of FSU. “And I already had a relationship with Coach Haggins before, when I was coming out of high school, so you know it wasn’t pretty much a hard decision to make. I mean it was hard, but it wasn’t that hard.”

And while he is new to Tallahassee he will be joined at FSU by another South Carolina transfer in defensive back Jammie Robinson. The two spoke about the chance that they might both end up at FSU but that both made independent decisions.

“When I first jumped in the portal, Jammie kind of reached out to me as well, probably either that day or the day after,” said Thomas. “He told me that Coach Norvell asked him about me, and stuff like that, and we pretty much went from there. When I made my decision that I was gonna come here, I asked him what was up, what he was going to do, ‘I’m going to Florida State.’ He pretty much told me he was going to Florida State too.”

Thomas appeared in just two games in 2019 because of a knee injury but says the process of coming back to play in 2020 helped him to grow up.

“I matured a lot and that injury helped me,” said Thomas. “When it first happened, I kind of overlooked it. I just was going day by day, it wasn’t really that big of a deal, until I started having setbacks, setbacks, setbacks with the same injury. It made me who I am today. I’m happy I had to go through that. It helped me.”

And while he hasn’t been cleared to work out yet as he gets all of the required paperwork approved for his transfer, he has gotten a chance to watch his new teammates go through at least one off-season workout.

“Tour of Duty was crazy,” said Thomas. “I mean I was out there to see it. I’m still going through some clearing process, far as paperwork and stuff like that. But I was out there and able to see it. It was great. I can’t wait to be part of it.”

He also indicated that FSU has long been a program that he wanted to play for and he believes he and his new head coach can get the Seminoles back to being one of the elite programs in the ACC.

“It was crazy,” said Thomas of his path to FSU via South Carolina. “It was just like a full circle again. It was crazy. I mean I wanted to be at Florida State. Things happen. Look at where we are at now … I believe in Coach Novell, his plan. I believe I can come in and help win. That is the plan, to get Florida State back to where Florida State is supposed to be.”

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