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Christian Jones, Telvin Smith are best linebacker tandem in ACC

This is the fifth piece in our position-by-position look at the best tandems in the ACC this season. Today it's best linebacker duo.

The best: Florida State

The duo: Christian Jones and Telvin Smith

The reasoning: Jones (6-foot-4, 232 pounds) was a consensus national top-25 recruit out of the Orlando area in the 2010 recruiting class and is heading into his third season as a starter. But after starting for two years on the outside, he now is in the middle under new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Jones led FSU with 95 tackles last season. He is extremely athletic and was highly hyped as a pass rusher coming out of high school. But he actually has performed better against the run, which probably is the biggest reason for his position change. He runs well laterally and flows to the ball. His coverage ability needs to improve. Still, because of his length, athleticism and productivity, Jones has a chance to be the first FSU linebacker selected in the first round since Lawrence Timmons in 2007.

Smith (6-3, 218) will start for the first time this fall and will be doing so on the outside, which probably is his more natural position. He was moved from the middle to outside linebacker during spring drills. Smith has good speed and should be able to put that speed to good use to become a big-play guy. Despite not starting last season, Smith was third on the team with 64 tackles, and he has 20.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and six pass breakups in his career. Over the long haul, he needs to add weight and bulk.

Next up in this series: Secondary duo on Sunday.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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