As the holidays approach Florida State's coaches, much like most of us, are taking a mini-vacation which coincides with the dead period in recruiting (when coaches aren't permitted to contact recruits). We wanted to take this time to take a look at the recruits that we feel are most likely to join the 2011 recruiting class for the Seminoles. Due to attrition and openings from graduation, players turning pro, etc there is a chance that Florida State could sign up to 28 players in this class, with the ability to count early enrollees back a class. As we have talked about the Seminoles coaches are doing a great job of getting players to enroll early which offers roster flexibility and also gives the players an extra Spring to work in the weight room and learn the playbook.
It is clear that the 'Noles are building a recruiting monster with the 2011 class. They have 11! ESPNU 150 players committed currently. Once it was thought to be out of the realm of possibility to sign double digits, now it seems close to 1/10 of the best players in the country will play their college ball in Tallahassee. FSU is simply in it with better players more often than it has been in some time. They have an astounding 9 players that plan to enroll early in this recruiting cycle. It is clear that Jimbo Fisher's regime understands the rules of engagement and are ready to take advantage of them. These players are:
- OL Jacob Fahrenkrug (JUCO)
- OL Sterling Lovelady
- DE "Tank" Carradine (JUCO)
- DE Aaron Lynch
- LB Terrance Smith
- CB Nick Waisome
- OL Trey Pettis
- OL Jordan Prestwood
- RB Devonta Freeman
Inside we will take a look at the most likely players that Florida State could close with.
That brings the total committed prospects for the class to 22 thus far, so theoretically FSU could sign up to 6 more players in this class, assuming that there are no players that switch to other teams. While there is always that possibility none of these players have shown any reason to question their existence in the National Signing Day class. If it does happen there is a chance it is because we have gotten a commitment from a player higher up our board. For evaluations on these players please see our recruiting big board which our recruiting staff outside myself has done a great job of keeping updated.
Highly Likely Stars at Need Positions
TE Nick O'Leary: O'Leary is an elite talent at his postion. Strong, quick, terrific blocker, excellent pass catcher. FSUSOM and I believe he is the second best player in the state of Florida this year and a 5* talent. FSU should take a TE in this class to help build depth at the position, and talented TEs give great flexibility to matchups, especially players as talented as Nick who can split out.
Nick is also considered a heavy lean to Florida State at this time. He has Florida State ties, on top of his obvious ties to OSU and UGA. However, he has been trending towards FSU heavily for some time, especially since the 'Noles blew out the Hurricanes this year in South Florida.
LB Tony Steward: Mirroring the first statement on O'Leary, Steward is truly an elite talent; the only one I have over O'Leary. His junior evaluation on this site is the most positive one that I have ever written. He played with an ACL injury this year and will have to get it cleared up, but he remarkably still played very well, and kids his age and with his genetics often bounce back very quickly. He is still a 5* talent in most everyone's opinion.
Tony has long been an FSU lean. FSU did a good job of bringing in the best LB class in the country with Christian Jones headlining along with Jeff Luc and Telvin Smith last year, but LB is still an area for depth because of their huge impact on special teams, and with FSU becoming more multiple we may see some 4 LB sets. Clemson has always been the #2 here, but we feel very good about Steward.
Defensive Line Stars: Battle with the Bayou
DE Jermauria Rasco: When I said on our first TomahawkNation Recruiting Podcast that I loved Rasco's game, he was underrated by Rivals.com, and he was an elite player I had no idea that FSU would be in the thick of it for him. Coach Craig has done a great job to have the 'Noles in such a position. Louisiana is typically the toughest state to pull players from if LSU wants them, and everyone wants Rasco including LSU. Texas gave an out of state offer to Rasco. Early. That doesn't happen a lot.
The out of state Texas offer was rumored to have lured Rasco pretty seriously, as he was a Texas lean until Muschamp jumped ship to Florida. I think that Rasco is a bit of an enigma because of all of the unique circumstances, but reports are that FSU is very much in the game. It wouldn't be surprising if it were something like 40% FSU, 40% LSU, 20% UT at this time.
DT TIm Jernigan: Jernigan is something of an enigma himself. For a long time he was considered a "lock" to the University of Florida, much like James Wilder Jr. was before FSU pulled him in. Jernigan has always been a kid who takes some plays off, but when he is motivated he is dominant. He stacked the stat box all year, absolutely destroying offensive lines at some points with an explosive first step and "country strength" because he has some work to do in the weight room. He is pretty skinny in the waist and hips but can be a great 3 technique. The best player in FL as a junior, and when he plays hard it is difficult to argue against him.
While he was once considered a UF lock, that is no longer so. UF is still in it, in my opinion, despite some reports that he has completely eliminated them. However, there is smoke that he is very serious about his interest in FSU. LSU is probably the leader for him, but the "Noles are in the mix heavily.
The Rest: Finishing the OL, Flipping a 5*, Pulling an Underrated LB, or Taking a 2nd QB/WR
OL Jose Matias:Jose is a little less known than most of these players to the 'Nole fanbase by nature of playing in New Jersey, but it seems Trickett always seems to find players in the North. James Coley, who speaks spanish, has been his main recruiter because Matias and his family also speak the language. Matias is a mountain of a man at 6'5'' and 290 lbs.
Most consider him a slight lean to Florida State with UNC and Wisconsin in it. I like the Wisonsin offer a lot. If you have had the chance to see that line this year you will know what I mean. If I were a betting man, I'd bet on FSU but not with too much confidence.
S Ha'Sean Clinton Dix: Clinton-Dix (HCD) is an excellent player. Someone who, when his junior film hit the internet, created a palpable buzz around the internet about who he was, where he was going, etc. He then went on to join a strong 7-on- 7 team including Karlos Williams, Nick Waisome, and good friend and teammate Dee Hart. Ha'Sean typically plays with very good angles and possesses all of the physical tools to be a star caliber safety for whatever school he ends up attending.
HCD is committed to Alabama and has been for quite some time now. The reason many think that he may flip to Florida State is because of his association with Karlos Williams and Nick Waisome (recent deflection from UF). Florida State is also recruiting his good friend Dee Hart as an all purpose player (returner, slot receiver) , but he doesn't seem to have returned the interest nearly as much as the rest of his 7-on-7 friends. HCD is still unlikely but FSU is in it.
LB Arrington Jenkins: Arrington Jenkins is a good player who from our big board "has good size to work with at the LB position. He has great quickness, speed and plays light on his feet. He rushes the passer extremely well but his ability to drop back into coverage is questionable as he mostly plays DE in HS."
Jenkins was once thought to be an academic casualty, but it appears he will make it in. He didn't play a year because of academics and wasn't evaluated by the recruiting services. He has always been on our radar as we had him in the top 40 players in Florida when we released our first list over a year ago. Florida State is in great position, he should be in this class.
QB Jacoby Brissett: Jacoby is the ideal height and weight for a QB. He does a great job of staying mobile in the pocket and keeping his head up the field. He has had a ton of weapons to play with at Dwyer and has done a good job of getting those guys the ball. He is raw and needs work on his mechanics but he certainly is a talent.
With a QB already committed it is a contentious issue among some Seminole fans as to if FSU should take another QB or not. Yet FSU has continued to recruit Brissett well after Coker committed. I am ok with it if they feel we have room. I like Brissett and he could turn out to be a good player. Florida State again is the leader here.
WR Kelvin Benjamin: FSU doesn't have to take a 2nd WR either, but Benjamin's size is hard to ignore. He lacks the top gear of a Rodney Smith but with his size (6'6'') he has great body control. Once considered a UF heavy lean Benjamin has recently been trending to FSU, although he has always shown interest in FSU. Many believe he will sign with the 'Noles, although I have some questions. I think he is pretty open and wants to see what this new staff at UF is all about. His coach Jessie Hester helps his kids make the best decision for their future.
This class is going to finish as one of the top 3 classes in the country and has a very real shot at the #1 class in the country, which Bud and I have been throwing around the idea of for some time. Of the final 6 spots these are the most likely players to fill out the class. Obviously they don't all fit, and some of them will probably not choose the 'Noles but the 6 final spots are most likely to come from this crop of players, and what a crop it is.