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Five candidates to lead Florida State in tackles in 2022

The Seminoles return their leading tackler from a season ago in Jammie Robinson but he'll have some competition in 2022.

Florida State is entering its third season under the guidance of defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, and many players are entering their second or third seasons as starters.

The Seminoles had six players register 51 or more tackles in 2021, including two players notching 70 or above.

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In the offseason, the 'Noles added talent in the transfer portal in redshirt sophomore defensive end Jared Verse and redshirt junior linebacker Tatum Bethune to help ease losses to the NFL Draft and graduation.

The depth chart won't be finalized until fall camp begins, but here are five players with a chance to lead Florida State in tackles this season.

1. Tatum Bethune, Redshirt Junior Linebacker 

Bethune might be new to Florida State, but he's no stranger to leading a defense in tackles. 

In 2021, Bethune led UCF with 108 tackles (60 solo and 40 assisted). Through 12 games, he registered 10+ tackles in five of those contests.

As fall camp approaches, Bethune has the opportunity to become an anchor in the middle of the defense. In the spring, he adjusted to his new system and displayed veteran leadership instantly.

Whether the offense attacks the left, right, or middle of the field, there's a high likelihood Bethune is around the ball on most plays. Therefore, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker has a shot to replicate last year's production in a Seminole uniform. 

2. Jammie Robinson, Redshirt Junior Safety

Robinson led the Seminoles in tackles in 2021, compiling 84 total, 42 solo and 42 assisted (all team-highs). With the addition of Bethune, Robinson's tackling numbers could be scaled back.

At 5-foot-11, Robinson made his presence felt across the field in his first season with FSU. He made plays within the secondary but also at the line of scrimmage, in the backfield and in the middle of the field.

The Cordele, Georgia, native finished with 10 or more tackles in four games, including a season-high 18 tackles against Florida on Nov. 27, 2021.

Prior to Robinson, Florida State had two safeties who excelled in tackling with Derwin James Jr and Hamsah Nasirildeen. Robinson should keep the history going for the 'Noles safety position in 2022. 

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3. Kalen DeLoach, Redshirt Junior Linebacker 

After limited playing time in 2020, DeLoach broke onto the scene in 2021 as a full-time starter. He tied for third on the Seminoles with 69 tackles and second in solo tackles with 38.

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DeLoach has range and quickness to meet ball carriers on the outside but is also physical enough to shed off bigger linemen and make tackles within the gaps. He's arguably the most athletically gifted linebacker on Florida State's roster and his ceiling is extremely high for 2022.

4. Jared Verse, Redshirt Sophmore Defensive End 

A year ago, Jermaine Johnson II totaled 70 tackles as a transfer defensive end in his first year at Florida State.

Verse is the newest transfer defensive end for the 'Noles, and the expectations are firmly set after Johnson II's performance last season.

In his career at Albany, Verse totaled 74 tackles and 14.5 sacks (10.5 in fall 2021). He projects as the starting FOX and has the physical ability to produce instantly despite the transition to the FBS level.

5. Amari Gainer, Redshirt Junior Linebacker 

Gainer, who is Florida State's active career leader with 193 tackles, has added competition for snaps with Bethune and Verse. However, he'll have a role in the defense regardless because of his consistency and athleticism.

In 2021, he was fifth on the 'Noles with 59 tackles and recorded a season-high eight tackles twice against Wake Forest and Louisville. 

Entering his third year in Fuller's system, Gainer should be near the top of the defensive producers even though he might not be listed as a starter. He could even solidify himself as an NFL Draft prospect with steady perfomances throughout the season.

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