Jenkins, Werner Have Seminoles on Edge
By BJ Bennett
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Florida State's bookend tandem of senior Brandon Jenkins and junior Bjoern Werner just might be the nation's best.
During Florida State's dynasty era, one ever-present constant was the ability of Seminole defensive ends to pressure the quarterback. From Derrick Alexander, Peter Boulware and Reinard Wilson to Andre Wadsworth and Jamal Reynolds, Tallahassee was home to the most ferocious pass rushers in college football throughout the 1990s. The likes of Alonzo Jackson, Kamerion Wimbley and Everette Brown in recent years have helped keep the tradition intact. This year's defense, however, will have a completely retro feel.
Florida State's bookend tandem of senior Brandon Jenkins and junior Bjoern Werner just might be the nation's best. The duo combined for 15 sacks a year ago, with Jenkins being the league's returning leader. Together, they set the tone for a Seminole unit that ranked fourth nationally in both scoring and total defense in 2011. Florida State, led by coordinator Mark Stoops, didn't allow over 19 points to a single opponent in their final eight games. Jenkins and Werner differ in style but are similar in production. Jenkins, an athletic speed rusher, is 6'3'', 260 pounds; the powerful Werner stands 6'4'', 275.
Jenkins enters his senior year with 21.5 sacks the past two seasons, 13.5 in 2010. Throughout his career he has also compiled 36.5 tackles for loss and 13 quarterback hurries. Had he decided to enter the NFL Draft this past spring, Jenkins likely would have been a first round selection. Scouts are enamored by his versatility as he could fit into either the 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme. The Tallahassee-native, who Jimbo Fisher said recently had the best spring he has ever seen a FSU player have, will not only contend for more postseason honors but also has a chance to make a significant dent in the school record books. He will be wearing a new jersey number for his senior year.
"It's my last year. I wanted to try something new," he explained of his new number four. "I had number 49 since middle school and high school and I didn't ask for for that number, it was given to me. I just wanted to try something new and hopefully it will work out for me."
Born in Berlin, Germany, Werner came to Florida State by way of Connecticut. In addition to his international flare, Werner has been married since 2010. He burst onto the national scene after standout play against nationally-ranked teams in consecutive weeks early last season. Werner first recorded six tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack versus Oklahoma, then returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown the following week at Clemson. A physical force in the trenches, Werner has 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in two years. His 2012 numbers could come match those totals considering the rapid progress he's made.
The 'Noles will have the luxury of tremendous depth at the defensive end position, starting with senior Tank Carradine. Ranked the top JUCO prospect in the country as he entered FBS football last season, he responded with 5.5 sacks. The nation's top incoming freshman and a second-generation Seminole, Mario Edwards, Jr. brings even more accolades, and talent, to the FSU line. That group will team with an incredibly-deep tackle rotation featuring emerging star sophomore Timmy Jernigan.
Florida State is expected to have one of the best defenses and best teams in the country in 2012. Fisher and the Seminoles are hoping for a throwback showing, both on the edge -- and in the polls.