Tatum Bethune (15) celebrates with Brendan Gant (28) after a huge fumble recovery in the 4th quarter.

Is FSU Linebacker U?

Written by: @NorvellCentral

Photo Cred: Charles Mays Media via Tomahawknation.com

LINEBACKER U?

Throughout its history, Florida State has been notorious for producing quality collegiate linebackers such as Marvin “Shade Tree” Jones, Derrick Brooks, Paul McGowan, Sam Cowart, Ernie Sims, Telvin Smith, Nigel Bradham… The list goes on and on. Unfortunately, the position group has not been a strength for the Seminoles lately.

 

STAR IN THE MAKING

One of the bright spots at the linebacker position was first-time starter Kalen DeLoach. He emerged onto the scene where he tied for third on the team for total tackles (69) and showcased his ability to tackle and cover in space. Linebackers DJ Lundy (69 total tackles) and Amari Gainer (59 total tackles) also flashed their potential as well. However, it seemed as though something was missing within the position unit.

Going into the offseason, the Seminoles only had six scholarship linebackers on its roster:

Kalen DeLoach, RS Jr.

Brendan Gant, RS Jr. (converted from DB to LB)

Amari Gainer, RS Jr.

Stephen Dix Jr., RS Soph.

DJ Lundy, RS Soph.

Omar Graham, Fr.

 

NEW VOICE AT THE LINEBACKER POSITION

The depth at the position was worrisome. To make matters worse, linebackers coach Chris Marve decided to part ways in the offseason with the Seminoles and accept a defensive coordinator/linebackers job opportunity with the Virginia Tech Hokies. As a result, Florida State decided to hire from within where they promoted analyst Randy Shannon to co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach. Shannon coached at Miami (1991-1997; 2001-2010), Miami Dolphins (1998-2000), TCU (2012), Arkansas (2013-2014), Florida (2015-2017) and UCF (2018-2020). Shannon is known for developing talent in his defenses where he has directly coached nine first-team All Americans, 78 all-conference performers, and 74 NFL Draft picks, including 21 first-round selections.

 

After the Seminoles only acquired one linebacker prospect in the 2021 cycle with ultra-talented three-star prospect Omar Graham Jr. from Stranahan High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Seminoles were most likely going to the transfer portal to acquire another linebacker to solidify in the position room.


BETHUNE CHOOSES THE SEMINOLES

On December 31, 2021, UCF redshirt junior linebacker Tatum Bethune announced that he would be entering the transfer portal. Bethune had a sensational 2021 season where he accumulated 108 total tackles (5.5 tackles for loss), two sacks and two interceptions. The Seminoles had an advantage with recruiting Bethune given that he committed to play with FSU linebackers coach Randy Shannon when he was the defensive coordinator/linebacker at UCF. Ultimately, the decision did not take long as the talented linebacker announced his commitment to the Seminoles on January 4th.

It seemed as though the Seminoles could finally make the linebacker position a strength for their defense.

 

LINEBACKER PLAY IN 2022

Fast forward to the 2022 season, this coaching staff was very comfortable in the construction of the linebacker position. During the Seminoles’ thrilling 24-23 victory against the LSU Tigers, Bethune and DeLoach were tied for second on the team in tackles (7). Even redshirt junior Brendan Gant got into the action where he picked up a muffed punt by LSU WR Malik Nabers which set up the Seminoles with 1st & Goal at LSU 8 with 2:15 left to go in the fourth quarter.

Overall, it will be exciting to see how the linebackers continue to grow and develop under the guidance of Randy Shannon.

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