Florida State’s DBU Claims Forged By Interchangeability, Versatility

    Florida State's DBU claims are built on an impressive pipeline of talent, and strengthened by players' versatility in the defensive backfield.

    March 10, 2017

    Florida State’s DBU claims are built on an impressive pipeline of talent, and strengthened by players’ versatility in the defensive backfield.


    The battle for DBU has become a fun offseason debate over the past few years. It started with Florida and LSU going back and forth, flicking out names like Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Joe Haden and Vernon Hargreaves. Ohio State jumped into the fray during this year’s NFL Combine, tweeting about DBU whenever one of its bevy of former defensive backs tore up the show.

    And then there’s FSU. Alma mater to the game’s greatest corner, Deion Sanders, Florida State has been steadily funneling talent to the league for quite some time. And while the likes of Jameis Winston, Dalvin Cook and Kelvin Benjamin are often his most discussed players, head coach Jimbo Fisher has created quite an NFL pipeline for his defensive backfield. Xavier Rhodes, Terrence Brooks, Lamarcus Joyner, P.J. Williams, Ronald Darby and, most recently, Jalen Ramsey, last year’s No. 5 overall pick, dot rosters throughout the league. With Marquez White entering the NFL this year and Derwin James on board for the next, FSU is only strengthening its DBU claim.

    A glimpse into what makes Florida State’s defensive backfields so prolific goes beyond simply recruiting talented players, more so recruiting talented versatile players. With his team kicking off spring practices this week, Jimbo Fisher discussed what he looks for in a DB.

    “I mean you can match-up, we’re going to move people around to match-up,” Fisher said. “Big bodies, little bodies, move people in and out. There’s no such thing as corners anymore. You want to recruit safeties that can play corner as much as you can. Because when the game gets spread out, you got to do corner things. It’s even tougher in the slot than it is outside.”

    Essentially, having a guy that can play center field and drop the hammer on a receiver cutting across the middle is all great and fine. But the true merit of a safety comes in coverage. With the influx of spread offenses, it’s imperative for a player to possess the footwork and quickness to rotate out of the safety position and sit in man coverage.

    Fisher values the interchangeability, especially with players like James, of whom the coach says, “There are just not many positions he can’t play.” The same goes for Carlos Becker, a safety who’s seeing time at corner this spring: “Carlos is a corner. That’s what he is; he’s a safety too.”

    By Fisher’s estimation, to top out one’s value, a safety must be a corner. A corner a safety. Hence why FSU is in the truest sense DBU.

    MORE: Jimbo Fisher Pulled Out All Motivational Stops For FSU

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