By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With spring football set to start this week, Seminoles.com’s position-by-position preview of the 2015 Florida State football team continues with a look at the linebackers.
Linebackers coach: Bill Miller (Texas-Arlington ’76, second year at Florida State)
Who’s in: Reggie Northrup (6-1, 220; SR), Matthew Thomas (6-3, 233; RS SO), Ro’Derrick Hoskins (6-2, 233; RS SO), Terrance Smith (6-4, 222; RS SR), Delvin Purifoy (6-2, 237; RS FR), Jacob Pugh (6-4, 236; SO)
Who’s out: E.J. Levenberry (transferred to Connecticut), Kain Daub (transferred to East Mississippi Community College).
See ya this summer: Sh’Mar Kilby-Lane (6-1, 209; FR), Lorenzo Phillips (6-3, 230; JR)
The buzz: Linebacker is one of the few positions where the Seminoles’ 2014 roster hasn’t been hit by heavy attrition.
While there will be new faces across the field for FSU this season, the Seminoles enter spring camp with largely the same group of linebackers they had before. Only E.J. Levenberry, a rising junior who spent two years as a reserve, is gone. He transferred in the offseason.
Even with a familiar cast, there will still be plenty of interest surrounding the linebackers over the next few weeks.
Veterans Terrance Smith, Reggie Northrup and Matthew Thomas should have a leg up on their less experienced counterparts, but Northrup is expected to miss time while recovering from knee surgery.
That means extended opportunities for players like Ro’Derrick Hoskins and Delvin Purifoy to stand out and enter the summer with some positive momentum.
The real key for FSU this spring will be developing some depth behind Smith and Northrup. Thomas has shown plenty of promise, but has yet to play a full season. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury as a freshman and then found himself sidelined by an NCAA suspension for much of last year.
Purifoy is back in the mix after missing last season with an ankle injury and Hoskins is still looking to capitalize on the potential shown in last year’s Garnet and Gold Game, where his 63-yard interception return for a touchdown was one of the game’s highlights.
It’s unlikely that anyone unseats Smith or Northrup, and Thomas is expected to play a significant role as well. But that trio can’t play every snap, and FSU needs a reliable second wave of linebackers to hold things together when needed.
Number of note: 122. With 122 tackles last season, Northrup became the first Seminole to post at least 100 tackles since Buster Davis in 2006.