Brad Lawing didn’t take much time to accept Jimbo Fisher’s offer.
After all, he needed another car.
OK, so the fact that the University of Florida had taken away Lawing’s car when he was not retained by new coach Jim McElwain wasn’t the overriding factor why he is Florida State’s newest assistant … but it’s nice to have a second car.
Lawing was at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last January when he received the call from Fisher, who was looking for a replacement for Sal Sunseri. It took 45 minutes to know it was the right move. He then called his wife, Laura, in Gainesville.
Never miss a local story.
“I said, ‘We’re going to Florida State,’ ” Lawing said. “She packed the car. Put two cats in the back. … and drove two and a half hours to Tallahassee. It was an easy move.”
An easy move for Lawing, 58, because after believing Florida would be his last stop, when it didn’t work out he told Laura, “We’re only going to take a job if we can win a national championship.”
Lawing brings 35 years of experience to the staff, including 17 over two stops at South Carolina. His last two years were at Florida as Will Muschamp’s assistant head coach and defensive line coach. As bad as things got for the Gators these last two years, the one constant was a stout defensive line that last year limited opponents to 116.2 rushing yards per game (13th nationally) and recorded 30 sacks, 13 more than the Seminoles.
“The players have so much respect for him because they know what he’s achieved,” Fisher said. “He’s the kind of guy. … when you talk to him, you know within three seconds how knowledgeable he is.”
This is where FSU needs that knowledge and experience to make a difference:
▪ Opponents gashed Florida State for 170.1 rushing yards a game last season, fourth-worst in the 14-team ACC. The Seminoles allowed 21 rushing touchdowns; just three teams in the conference surrendered more.
▪ FSU’s 17 sacks were the second-fewest among Power 5 teams and tied for 108th nationally.
The timing was right for Fisher, who knew of Lawing from his friendship with Alabama coach Nick Saban. Lawing worked for Saban at Michigan State for four years (1999-02) and Fisher knew Saban tried to rehire Lawing several times.
“I have a list of coaches at all positions,” Fisher said in February. “And at the top of the list I knew one day I was supposed to get that guy.”
Lawing has developed four first-round picks in the past three years: Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr. (No. 3 in 2015) and Dominique Easley (No. 29 in 2014), South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney (No. 1 in 2014) and Melvin Ingram (No. 18 in 2013).
Whether it’s DeMarcus Walker, Lorenzo Featherston, Jacob Pugh or Josh Sweat, Lawing is looking for his next first-round pick. And he’s not mincing words about what needs to be done.
“If you got schemes that are constantly changing sometimes you end up with square pegs you are trying to fit in a round hole,” Lawing said. “It’s not their fault, it’s just things changed. We’ve tweaked a few things but we feel now we got our guys in positions where they can do what we want them to do.”
One player Lawing has impacted early is Walker. The junior defensive end has improved in his two seasons but is hoping to break out in 2015.
“He’s taught me to take this game seriously,” Walker said. “The power of preparation and the details. The small things and to take advantage of that. I didn’t take advantage of that in my sophomore year.”