First things first, make sure you've read his article discussing some of the issues with Florida State's recruiting from 2004-2006. You can find it at this link.
Frequent readers of the site will recognize that I am no Bobby Bowden loyalist, and I still believe the JB era was an absolute joke, but I think the coaching staff during that time period gets a bit of a bad wrap as far as their recruiting practices go. I do not believe the intent of Uncensored's piece was to throw the previous administration under the bus, but I feel like a lot of readers will look at the information in his article and start placing blame on the coaches again.
We can cast a lot of stones in hindsight, but I think we should take a look at some of the players in Uncensored's article and discuss them in context. Could we have conceivably turned down some of these commitments even if we knew what kind of career they would have?
Note: For the purposes of this article, I will rarely, if ever, try to defend Jeff Bowden's recruiting on an individual level. He was garbage. The players he targeted, for the most part, were terrible. Same for the previous 2 offensive line coaches. You won't see me trying to put the 2004 and 2005 OL classes in a positive light.
Class of 2004
Xavier Lee- Regardless of how his college career turned out, Xavier Lee was a great high school quarterback. Every school in the country would have taken this kid, and he made it known pretty early on that Florida State was his choice (he committed in late January, but was basically ours for a while before that). Even had we known what he would (or wouldn't) become in college, you don't pass on a high school player with his reputation who clearly wants to go to your school. Xavier Lee is a failure of player development (which Uncensored will talk about soon in an upcoming article), not recruiting.
JR Bryant- Probably not as good as advertised coming out of high school. Remember though, at the time we were having difficulties getting players out of the Miami area. JR was seen as a guy who could get us pipelines back into Dade county. I am willing to have a few failures come out of South Florida if it keeps our lines of communication open with the high schools in the area.
Tony Carter- Carter may have not been seen as a great prospect by NFL scouts, but I think he served his role fairly well at Florida State. I don't think anyone expected him to have to be our #1 corner for over 3 years when he was being recruited. Had some of our other DBs panned out like we thought, and Cromartie not left after a season he spent injured, Tony could have had a great career here as a Nickel corner and people would remember him a lot more fondly.
Jamaal Edwards- Never really showed much in limited action. Injuries kept him from really producing. Actually got passed on the depth chart by Lamar Lewis. But you can't blame a running back who transfers for playing time when they're behind Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker. I'll conceed this as a recruiting failure though.
Lawrence Timmons- Everything we thought we were getting and more.
Trever Ford- See JR Bryant. Trevor was probably a product of Mickey Andrews' search for the next Cromartie (physical freak with size, speed, and hips). Again, however, I will reiterate that no one turns down a 4 star from Dade County.
Aaron Jones- Injury prone doesn't begin to describe this guy. Probably over-hyped in high school. I'll admit this was another miss.
Jae Thaxton- My man-crush on Kevin Steele makes it hard for me to admit he may not have recruited well here. I just assume that, if not for injury, every Kevin Steele linebacker would be a first round pick. We had so many great LBs at the time, missing on this one wasn't too bad.
Drew Weatherford- Hard working kid who was a die-hard Nole fan. We probably expected him to be a career backup to the phenominal Xavier Lee and he had enough skills to fill that role nicely. The type of kid who was good enough, and loved the school enough, that you don't turn him down. Another failure of player development, in the sense that he was forced into a role that he wasn't prepared for. I do, however, question the strategy we had here (and again with Richardson and Ponder) of taking 2 QBs and not separating them by a year.
Dumaka Atkins- See my note about OL recruiting. Although Dumaka came from an athletic family, so maybe we assumed he had quality genes.
Greg Carr- See my note about Jeff Bowden recruiting. Carr had a productive career, however, in terms of TDs. Probably nothing more than a specialist for mismatches and we tried to turn him into our top all around target.
Jacky Claude- See OL note. We got what we could out of him given the circumstances.
Emmanuel Dunbar- We probably don't know what he could have become if not for the back injuries.
Rodney Gallon- Like it or not, our previous coaches were not going to turn down a player from Lincoln high school. I don't know that I blame them for not burning that bridge. Probably a miss, but again at a position where we could afford it.
Kenny O'Neal- See JB note.
Barry Wright- Got us in to Coffeyville CC, where we have recruited and signed several players since. A recruiting miss though.
Jonathon Warren- Florida State won't turn down kids from Madison any time soon either. We don't really know what might have happened if he hadn't done it with that chick (seems I remember those being some questionable charges.... was it sleeping with his girlfriend but she was a sophmore and he a senior?... maybe he just did something terrible, I can't remember). A conceeded miss.
Class of 2005
Callahan Bright- The kind of DT prospect that only comes around once every 5 years. Also the kind of DT prospect that you take a chance on and hope he qualifies. The coaches' failure here was not having a backup plan.
Fred Rouse- Again, every school in the country would have taken this kid and he was in our own back yard. The PR hit we would have taken if we had lost him would have been almost as bad as the PR hit we took when he got high and stole stuff. Showed glimpses during his year here, probably could have been awesome under Fisher, who knows. We missed here, but I don't think we can be blamed for taking him.
Antone Smith- Not as good as the hype. Limited by a bad system. Again, even had we known what he would become he wasn't the type of player you turn down during recruiting season. Not to mention that I think our coaches were more surprised than anybody (well, except maybe his mom) when he came here.
Matt Hardrick- See OL recruiting note. And when your options are Matt Hardrick or no one, you should.... well, I'll get back to you on what you should do.
Eugene Hayes- Quality LB, probably would have gone higher in the draft had he stayed for his senior year.
Derek Nicholson- Younger brother of a successful former player. I don't think we should be in the business of overlooking guys like that.
Russell Ball- We gambled that he could come back from a knee injury and lost. He stayed injured his entire time here. A definite miss.
Everette Brown- Great signing all around.
Clarence Ward- We needed safeties. Taking a guy who would get homesick for Texas after one year was not the answer. Miss.
Matt Dunham- Over-hyped coming out of high school. A definite miss.
Dan Foster- Again, I tend to overvalue players that Kevin Steele recruited. Nothing wrong with taking an occasional chance on a guy qualifying. Wouldn't seem as bad had we had fewer problems elsewhere. A miss nonetheless.
Michael Ray Garvin- Did we really expect anything more out of him? He was put in a position I don't think we expected him to be in. Had some of our other CBs panned out he wouldn't have gotten burned so much and seemed so bad.
Neefy Moffett- Stole him from the Canes at the last minute. We had to wait on him to get big enough to play DL, but he was at least serviceable.
Class of 2006
Myron Rolle- A success. Maybe not as good as the hype, but still a success.
Brandon Warren- Maybe we should have known better than to take a player from Knoxville, but after what he showed during his freshman year I think he could have been worth the risk if he had stayed. A gamble, but I'll take it.
Marcus Ball- Remember, this was a recruiting gamble as to whether or not he'd qualify. I think he was having a monster freshman year until the injury. Definite academic and off-the-field questions, but a pretty good player before (and somewhat after) his knee injury. Was he a recruiting miss? Depends on if you think we're running a football team or a Boy Scout troup.
Damon McDaniel- Probably should have known better than to stretch that far for a kid with issues from Virginia. But hey, Florida took Percy Harvin from the same high school with similar off-field issues and that turned out pretty well for them. Can't blame the staff for getting Damon. CAN blame them for not getting Percy.
Daron Rose- See OL recruiting note.
Preston Parker- Worth it. He gave us several black eyes, but he also single-handedly carried us during the 2007 season.
Anthony Leon- Again, you don't turn down a kid who's highly rated out of South Florida. You also can take chances on a kid with Sean Taylor's genes. You probably should have a backup plan though.
Shannon Boatman- If we could have, we would have signed E Honda from Street Fighter to play OL at this point.
Paul Griffin- A very solid, if not potentially dominant player before his injury. Worth the risk, IMO.
Toddrick Verdell- I don't know that we expected him to be an All-American or 1st round draft pick. Even the greatest teams need guys to fill roles. Toddrick was a quality guy, gave us no real problems, and fill a role for us.
So after all of that, what was the point? I don't really know, I'm kind of light-headed right now. I do know this. There are a lot of things we can blame on the coaches from 2004-2007, but I'm not sure that all of these recruiting "failures" are some of them.