(COURTESY E.J. LEVENBERRY / February 6, 2013)
E.J. Levenberry, LB
Woodbridge (Va.) Hylton
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 227 Class: 2013
Recruiting Buzz: According to his 247Sports.com profile, Levenberry had 172 total tackles in his final high school season. Often when discussing good inside linebackers, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has talked about his desire to find a player who seemingly is always around the football. Levenberry's stats seem to prove he is one.
— Coley Harvey
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State just received its 18th and final letter of intent of the day. It also is the 21st overall letter of the 2013 signing class. (The Seminoles had three early enrollees) Inside linebacker E.J. Levenberry was the recruit who capped the signings.
The native of Woodbridge, Va. had also been considering Tennessee, among other schools.
(All videos are courtesy of Seminoles.com)
E.J. Levenberry, ILB, Woodbridge, Va. (C.D. Hylton)
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 227 Class: 2013
Recruiting Buzz: According to his 247Sports.com profile, Levenberry had 172 total tackles in his final high school season. Often when discussing good inside linebackers, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has talked about his desire to find a player who seemingly is always around the football. Levenberry’s stats seem to prove he is one.
Rankings 247 Composite: 0.9226
National overall: No. 178, National by position: No. 6, State overall: No. 9
Recruited by: Odell Haggins
Committed: April 24, 2012
Visited FSU: Jan. 11, 2013
Stars: Four (per 247Sports.com's composite score)
Other offers: Tennessee, Oklahoma, Auburn, Florida
Analysis: Players who are inside linebackers are some of football's most unique characters. It takes a special spirit in order for someone to want to decide they want to run into the teeth of an offensive line full of 300-pound men, somehow split that line and find a ballcarrier and dive into him before he can put a move to slip by. Having good intelligence, instincts and acting skills helps, too. Interior linebackers often make calls, relay pre-play messages between the secondary and defensive line and try to mask their own duties all before the ball gets snapped.
Those are the basic fundamentals to being a good inside backer.
Levenberry appears to have a grasp on many of them already.
Judging from film from his junior season, the teenager who already appears to have a grown, professional athlete's body, has the type of football savvy that Jimbo Fisher believes a linebacker must possess. For starters, Levenberry is around the ball often. Whether it's dropping into coverage and trying to disrupt the intermediate crossing passing lane, or getting into the backfield seemingly every time he blitzes, or finding a running back after having run across the field, he is around the ball often.
According to 247Sports.com, the Under Armour All-American had 151 tackles as a junior. This past season, as a senior, he had 172. Numbers like that make him reminiscent of former Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly who was no stranger to 100-tackle-per-year territory. Now, Kuechly is posting similar numbers in the NFL. He often has been an example Fisher uses when he talks about how omnipresent an inside linebacker ought to be.
Levenberry also broke up 14 passes this season, his 247Sports.com profile says. Such a high number is a good indicator of sound pass coverage skills.
Part of what makes Levenberry a good tackler is his closing speed. Once he sets his sights on a target to hit, he seems to pick up the pace to the point that he catches up to an offensive player quicker than they are expecting. He's a hard hitter, too.
This offseason, FSU is losing one of those hard-hitting, intelligent, at times omnipresent linebackers with the departure of Vince Williams. The fifth-year senior is headed for the NFL Draft. Between solid performances in FSU's last two games and an even better one in the Senior Bowl, Williams has raised his draft stock well in recent weeks.
Although Levenberry played both inside and outside linebacker in high school and could do both for the Seminoles, he seems best suited, for now, to play the inside. In the last two seasons, the Seminoles have used a two-man rotation at the spot, with Telvin Smith sharing playing time with Williams. In order to keep the Mike linebacker fresh, FSU probably would like to retain a similar rotation this coming season, as well. Of course, with a new linebackers coach and a slightly tweaked defensive system coming with a total of three new defensive coaches, that might also change.
At the interior linebacker position, Levenberry would be competing this fall with rising redshirt freshman Ukeme Eligwe, who is coming off a hand injury that kept him out much of this past season.
Levenberry gave the Seminoles a bit of a scare Tuesday, when it appeared he may have been second-guessing his commitment and was going to sign with Tennessee. In the evening, during an announcement, he made it known that his letter of intent was still going to FSU.