Carrying the Spear: DT Everett Dawkins

During the final 10 weeks before the season kicks off, NoleNation will march through the depth chart to analyze Florida State's top 50 contributors for the 2012 season. From Austin Barron to Vince Williams, we'll review each player's career, evaluate his role in 2012 and project what might be in store down the road.

Everett Dawkins

Defensive Tackle, Senior, 6-foot-2, 295 pounds

Looking back: Everett Dawkins left Byrnes High School in South Carolina as an undersized defensive end, and there were plenty of questions about his ability to match up against top-level offensive linemen at the collegiate level. That seems like an awful long time ago now. Dawkins enters his fifth season in Tallahassee as one of Florida State's most seasoned veterans, having appeared in 43 games over four seasons, including starts in the last 40 straight. And he's not so undersized anymore either. Now at defensive tackle, Dawkins checks in at close to 300 pounds -- about 60 pounds more than he weighed his senior season in high school. He's never been the flashiest member of the Seminoles defense, but he was productive even when the unit was bad in his early seasons and he's been the steadying influence during its revival. In his career, Dawkins has 80 tackles -- including 13.5 for a loss -- and 6.5 sacks. He made his first career interception in 2011.

Right now: The hype will go to the defensive ends, who are likely to rack up big sack numbers, and the future belongs to fellow tackle Timmy Jernigan, who was impressive as a freshman in 2011. But it's the leadership, consistency and veteran savvy of Dawkins that makes it easier for the rest of the all-star defensive line to shine. Dawkins has seen the good times and bad times on the Florida State defense, but the finishing touches on his five-year career with the Seminoles could mark the high point.

Looking ahead: Dawkins has always managed to play bigger than his frame might indicate, which is a tribute to his work ethic and determination. That's great for a senior leader, but when it comes to NFL draft stock, the scouts tend to prefer big-time potential. That doesn't mean Dawkins won't get a look at the next level -- particularly if he can be a stalwart on what looks like one of the best defensive lines in the country in 2012 -- but he'll likely be a late-round pick and will have to work his way into a job. That, of course, is nothing that will intimidate Dawkins.