CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Marvin Wilson knows what’s coming.
He’s a big guy (6-foot-5 and 311 pounds) and a big name on Florida State’s defensive front.
“My mindset is you just expect a double team each and every play,” said Wilson, a preseason All-American by a number of publications. “I’m not going to cry about it. I got to go attack it.”
Wilson says it all with a smile and the right attitude. A year after FSU loses a first-round pick in Brian Burns and a leader on the interior in Demarcus Christmas, Wilson is the unquestioned strength of a defensive front that will feature new starters and likely a new look.
FSU coaches have tried out 3-4 alignments in the spring, which they feel could help put more pressure on the passer – especially given the loss of Burns (10 sacks in 2018). His departure after a standout junior season, as well as the unknown quantities at defensive end, have the Seminoles thinking that they will blend in some 3-4 fronts along with what has typically been a defense that featured four-man fronts.
In all likelihood, FSU will continue to show multiple defensive fronts and also look to capitalize on a strength – depth in the defensive backfield – by playing nickel packages. Coach Willie Taggart downplayed the significance of the defensive front alignments and has yet to state that the Seminoles are making a complete move to a 3-4.
“I don’t think we’re changing a lot from what we did last year,” Taggart said. “We worked on some things in the spring, seeing what was good for our team, how we can continue to get better, how we can continue to put our players in the best position to make plays.
“I think you’re still going to see our guys playing an even front, though. I think you’ll see Coach Barnett continue to find different ways to put pressure on the quarterback.”
How to do that? Especially given that Wilson, who had 41 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a sophomore last season, will receive so much attention? Regardless of whether FSU is playing with three or four down linemen, it’s necessary to continue the development of pass rushers. Part of that responsibility falls on Odell Haggins, the longtime FSU assistant who is now taking on the role of coaching not just the defensive tackles but the entire defensive line in 2019.
The Seminoles have a pair of veteran ends in junior Joshua Kaindoh and redshirt junior Janarius Robinson, both of which will need to expand on what they’ve shown in bit roles. Kaindoh had 19 tackles and three sacks last season, while Robinson had 27 tackles and a sack in 2018.
Wilson feels Kaindoh and Robinson have put in the hard work in the offseason to prepare them for potentially starting this fall.
“The biggest thing I have been seeing with JRob and Kaindoh is they have been attacking the weight room hard,” Wilson said. “They’ve already been physically gifted with the body. They’re cut. They look like Hercules, both of them. But the weight that they are putting up is ridiculous. They’re putting up almost offensive line and defensive tackle numbers. It’s amazing to see.”
Wilson said he has tried to be an outspoken leader but also a good listener. He has taken the young linemen under his wing and tried to advise them as he learned from guys like Burns and Christmas.
“The best thing Brian Burns ever taught me how to do was how to work,” Wilson said. “Brian was one of the hardest-working dudes last year, not just from camp but from workouts, from the spring last year, leading up to the season, to help him go first round last year. He was a great mentor.
“Him and DeMarcus Christmas, those were like the leaders I leaned on last year. They taught me the way.”
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