Make no mistake about it, the loss of Brandon Jenkins hurts the Seminoles quite a bit. Despite the considerable depth along the Seminole defensive line Jenkins possessed something else that many of the other young guys don't have a lot of: experience.
Potential is one thing, but Jenkins is a proven commodity and somebody that opposing defenses had to gameplan around. His loss will hurt Florida State from a leadership standpoint, as well as a talent standpoint, but it's not a death knell for this defense by any stretch of the imagination.
Let's look at a few aspects of last night's news.
Where Does Jenkins Go From Here?
Truth be told, I doubt Brandon Jenkins even knows if he's going to go pro at this point. His injury is complicated and frankly, the rehab and recovery is still somewhat of an unknown quantity so there's no safe assumption to make as to whether or not Jenkins will be back.
Here's something to make Seminoles fans feel a little better though, even having Jenkins around to start this year was a huge bonus. Typically when you see an end rack up 21.5 sacks in two years he's going pro. I was frankly a little surprised Jenkins came back this year at all. He would have gone the highest of any Seminole drafted last April and could have even snuck into the back half of the first round depending on how he worked out.
As for his future draft plans, it all comes down to the injury.
Jenkins has the ability to take a medical redshirt, a lot of people will point to the fact coming back would risk another injury, but if the Lisfranc injury isn't healed by the draft season, it could plummet Jenkins' stock to the point he would actually be better off coming back.
A lot depends on the severity of the injury and how long it will take Jenkins to come back from it. Some Lisfranc injuries can linger for more than a year and one of the biggest concerns with recovery is less in regards to healing and more in regard to the potential for arthritis, possibly of the degenerative variety, to develop afterwards. If Jenkins has any complications or the severity of the injury is such that he needs to seek out a more aggressive variety of treatment, it's not a given he ends up playing on Sunday next year.
Especially with the stigma related to the Lisfranc injury.
But I also wouldn't count on him coming back. At this point, I doubt even Jenkins knows what he wants, but as long as he can recover fully he should be able to continue playing at a high level in his career.
Who Replaces Jenkins?
You're about to learn all about Tank Carradine. If you had any trepidation about replacing Jenkins with the senior juco transfer, consider this. Quietly, while Bjoern Werner exploded for sacks and TFL's, it was Cornelius Carradine who lead the Seminoles in tackles on Saturday while also notching a couple TFL's and a sack of his own.
"Me and Brandon get a lot of attention and he wants to prove everyone wrong," Bjoern Werner told us last week. "He wants people to speak about him too. He wants to show that he's as good as we are. And me and Brandon know that [he is].
"He's going to have a great year, me and Brandon know that because we see how hard he works and how good he is, it's just people don't know about him yet."
Carradine is going to be able to start without FSU noticing a considerable dropoff, it's the depth after Carradine and Werner that's a concern.
Giorgio Newberry has really come on of late, he earned rave reviews during Summer and is actually listed as the 4th end, what remains to be seen is if the Seminoles will trust him enough to have him move into Jenkins' spot in the rotation, or if they'll opt to use Mario Edwards Jr. or Toshmon Stevens in a larger rotation than was initially anticipated.
Toshmon Stevens has become a special teams dynamo and looked good in limited action on Saturday, but the plan was never to include him as one of the premiere pass-rushers so the Seminoles are going to have some deciding to do in regard to how they want to fill out their line.
Personally, I still think Jimbo Fisher would like to redshirt Super Mario, but given his potential and the newfound need for another big body, if the coaching staff feels Edwards Jr. is a better bet than Stevens at end, we could end up seeing the nation's top recruit this season after all.
What's the Takeaway?
This is why teams recruit. Injuries happen, players miss games, now it's time for the next man to step up. The Seminoles have been recruiting well of late, Jimbo Fisher is very good at it. Now the depth Florida State has been adding will be tested. The comparison to Alabama will always be there because Jimbo Fisher spent time under Nick Saban and pulls players from that state all the time.
But if FSU wants to take the next step, this is also part of it. They always say the best programs don't rebuild, they reload. If Florida State wants to claim they have that caliber of roster now, this is a good way to test it.
One thing is for sure, on Saturday morning the Seminoles had one of the deepest defensive lines in the country. As of today, that's no longer true.
Injuries can do that to a team.