Cornelius Carradine had planned to fly under the radar to start the season. Just like he did last year.
The 6-5 265-pound senior defensive end arrived in Tallahassee in 2011 as a juco transfer from Butler CC. He didn’t garner much recognition his junior year, but still saw plenty of time as a reserve and quietly finished the season with 5.5 sacks.
Heading into 2012 Carradine was part of three-man rotation with fellow senior Brandon Jenkins and junior Bjoern Werner. And while Jenkins and Werner took the spotlight this preseason, Carradine waited in the wings for a shot to prove himself.
"It's not only me and Brandon, it's me, Tank and Brandon," Werner told me this summer when I asked him about competing for sacks with Jenkins.
"Tank's playing on a level that's just amazing, for him to be called a backup is just crazy because he's as good as me and Brandon. All three of us know that and it's going to a three-way sack [race]."
On Tuesday, Carradine officially became the starter and it became a two-way sack race after news that Brandon Jenkins had suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury made way around the team.
“I don’t like the way that it happened,” said Carradine. Echoing a sentiment held by many on the Seminoles.
Jenkins could have gone pro last season and would have been a high pick. He tallied 21.5 sacks in two seasons and notched another against Murray State before leaving in the first half.
Instead he returned to Florida State to try and lead the team on a return to prominence and got injured in the first game.
“That just tells me that I have to step up now,” said Carradine, who will replace Jenkins in the starting lineup. “Because the team needs me and I need the team and we all need to make it happen for Brandon.”
Last weekend in Jenkins’ absence Carradine showed what he could do, but still flew under the radar.
While fans and reporters talked about Jenkins early trip to the lockerroom and Bjoern Werner exploding for 4 sacks and 5 TFL’s, it was Carradine who lead the team in tackles with nine while notching a sack and a couple TFL’s of his own.
“I have a lot to prove,” said Carradine. “I want to get it done and carry that on out through the season to show everybody that we may not have Brandon but we’ve still got depth, that D-Line is still going to be good.”
The Seminoles do boast considerable depth but no longer boast the same level of experience.
On Monday before Jenkins injury was known to be so severe, head coach Jimbo Fisher had talked of redshirting two highly touted freshman ends, one of whom, Mario Edwards Jr., was rated the top recruit in the nation last spring.
Now both Edwards and Chris Casher will play behind Carradine and redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry.
“They were always in a good place," said Fisher on Thursday when asked about the two true freshmen. "I liked where they were. You couldn’t justify enough reps with those (other) three guys because they were so good.
"But with one of them out you start developing for a situation that can occur and I’m very happy where Giorgio is too, I think he’s had a great camp. I’ve been very happy there. And Toshmon [Stevens] can give you some [reps]. I think we can push these guys right now and justify the reps and what they are doing."
Fisher added both could also contribute on special teams.
Still, for Florida State to reach their goals in 2012 they’ll really need Tank Carradine to really step up.
No more flying under the radar.
[This piece was originally supposed to run in the Friday paper but had to be cut for space reasons. It's been repurposed for the blog]