Florida State 2011 Recruiting Needs

With the 2010 recruiting class wrapped up, we move on to the 2011 recruiting season. There are 359 days until signing day 2011 and about 540 days until opening day 2011.  That seems like a long way off, but recruiting is a year-round endeavor and the dominant programs do a lot of their best work in the months after signing day.  Even if a player doesn't sign in the coming months, if he does eventually sign, you can bet the groundwork was laid in the Spring of the player's junior year.  Texas is probably the program most noted for this.  They typically have 20 prospects commit as juniors.  In the coming weeks and months our Tomahawk Nation recruiting staff will profile the top kids in the state of Florida and South Georgia (a prime recruiting location for Florida State).  They will discuss which players could end up in Tallahassee, who is likely to head elsewhere, who is under-hyped, and who is overrated.  But before we get into recruiting we need to lay the framework for Florida State's class.  That means determining the size and positional composition of the class. 

Let's start with a chart that shows the breakdown of FSU's returning roster by position, the total number per position, the ideal composition of a roster (per Nick Saban), and has some notes on each position.  The "goal" number doesn't need to be dead on and represents the necessities.  It can fluctuate some but should not fluctuate too much.  Being below goal is much more acceptable with a young position group.  Being above goal is better if a position group is very veteran and thus the need for seasoned backups is more pressing.  The chart below reflects the roster numbers for the upcoming season (2010).  Obviously, Seniors will not be around for the 2011 season, for which we will be forecasting the recruiting class size and makeup.  The "Need" category assumes a bare minimum and no attrition.

Position Sr Jr So Fr Total Goal Need Note
QB 1 0 1 2 4 3.5
1 Expect Trickett to redshirt.  Some think Secord could transfer after this season if Trickett were to pass him. 
RB 1 2 3 0 6 6
1 Will Ty Jones remain on the team given his diabetes problems and depth chart position?  Don't expect many upperclassmen backing up underclassmen under Fisher.
WR 0 4 3 6 13 11 0 Easterling legitimately might go full-time baseball following the 2010 season.  We don't expect Wade on the team much longer as Fisher never wanted him in the first place and Bowden wouldn't allow him to be cut.  Avis Commack moved to safety.  A.J. Alexander is now at receiver, but will he remain on the team?  Will Jarmon Fortson go pro early?  Will attitude concerns see him and FSU go separate ways? 
TE 1 2 0 2 5 4.5
1 With no fullback, a two-deep +1 is preferable.  Will Jabarris Little remain on the team if he doesn't get serious playing time as a senior?
OL 2 4 2 5 13 15 4 No attrition is expected.
DL 1 2 5 6 14 17 4 Will Jamar Jackson stay on the team?  He hasn't been the same since his knee injury and upperclassmen who don't contribute probably will not be around.  This is a very young group for 2011 and will have only 1 or 2 seniors in 2011.   
LB 2 2 1 5 10 10 2 Will Bradham go pro?  Will Moody move to linebacker?  How is Vince Williams' back after surgery and a medical redshirt year? 
CB 1 2 1 3 7 7 1 Will Dionte Allen stay on the team?  Will he start in this year or next?  Can he get over his injury-prone nature?  Upperclassmen who are passed on the depth chart by younger players will probably not be asked back.  Perhaps he could get a MedDQ and finish his education that way. 
S 0 2 3 3 8 7 0 Will Avis Commack stick at his new position?  Will Ed Imeokporia be on the team?  Is Justin Bright long for Tallahassee?  If Terrance Parks doesn't get serious playing time will he transfer, considering he would have been passed up by younger players?  Will Moody move to linebacker? 
K 0 0 1 0 1 1 0
P 0 1 0 0 1 1 0
Total 9 21 20 32 82 83 13 FSU will be at 85 scholarships for the 2011-2012 season (Finally)

* The "Goal" category only adds up to 83 to allow for roster freedom.  Half numbers such as "3.5" mean that a team should have 3 or 4 players at that position.

Let's talk a little roster composition theory:

FSU has too many skill position players.  15 DB's is too many with only 1 senior.  And I'm told there are some very good DBs in the upcoming class. The writing is on the wall for the DBs listed above. They won't be long for FSU.    This is especially important because Stoops is a DB coach.  He needs to be able to get the most out of the defensive backs without over-signing at the position.  Stoops is a great DB coach and I expect him to be able to take fewer DBs and turn them into studs at a higher rate than DB coaches who are not great, thus allowing FSU to dominate in other areas.   The same goes for the receivers.  13 wide receivers is not functional depth.  It is overkill and it hurts other positions.

It is up to Fisher and Stoops to cut down on the number of skill position players.  Somehow, I think the numbers will work out.

Defensive line is another story.  Defensive line is the position that must be consistently over-recruited. Teams need to take 5 every single year. (3 DE/ 2 DT one year, then 2 DE/ 3 DT the next)  That's because the attrition rate for defensive linemen is extremely high.  Additionally, defensive line sleepers seem to have the lowest chance of success. Because FSU isn't going to be pulling in classes comprised solely of defensive line studs every year (very few teams do), it must increase it's opportunities to have some lower-rated prospects turn into stars.  That means taking 5 defensive linemen every year.

FSU needs to get in a yearly pattern of taking 4 OL, 5 DL , and 2/3 LB (alternating years).   In any given year the 'Noles should have about 41 OL+DL+LB.  Having 40 or 42 is acceptable.  Having 38 is not.  Saban routinely carried 43 when he was at LSU and he has continued the trend at Alabama. 

Granted, FSU did bring in 11 players at those positions this time and the blame for the lack of numbers falls largely on the previous staff.  FSU's lack of depth was not something one recruiting class can cure.  But next year is year two of the two-year process of fixing the front-7 depth issue. Fisher & Co. must make sure they stay focused on re-stocking the front-7 and bringing in offensive linemen.  Fisher learned from Saban and it looks as if he is aware of the issue.

Overall it looks like FSU is finally learning to avoid the pitfalls of underrecruiting a position for years and having to oversign as a result.

Inside, you'll find the Tomahawk Nation class projection.  Click "continue reading."

As shown in the chart above, the bare minimum for the next recruiting class in order to meet positional goals before any attrition is:

4 OL
4 DL
2 LB
1 CB

That's 14 total players.  You can bet, however, that FSU is going to bring in more than 14 players.  Based on the most likely attrition situation, we project that FSU's recruiting class will break down something like this:  

1-2 RB
1-2 WR (2 if FSU loses Easterling, Wade, Alexander, and Fortson before 2011 and both)
1 TE
4-5 OL (Potential for 5 if FSU loses someone to attrition)
4-6 DL (likely 2 DE & 3 DT, depending on Jackson's status)
2-3 LB
4-5 DB (5 only if they are studs and one likely moves to linebacker)

On the low end that projects to 18 and 25 on the high end.  FSU is not going to take 26 kids in the 2011 class.  I'll explain why in a minute.  My best guess at this point is that FSU will take 19-22 players in the 2011 class.

The reason I don't believe FSU will take 25 kids in the next recruiting cycle is the massive attrition if would require.  With 73 returning players following this season before attrition, FSU will need to lose one player for every recruit it takes exceeding 12.  Taking 19 means FSU loses 7 players to attrition by August of 2011.  Taking 22 means FSU loses 10 players to attrition by August 2011.  You can probably pick out 5 or 6 players from the above roster.  But can you find 10?  It is tough right now but in 18 months I bet it will work out. 

Keep in mind that any attrition doesn't necessarily need to be occur until August 2011.  Unless the player is a poor influence on his teammates, the better plan is to let him remain on the team and pump up the Academic Progress Rate until the time arises that requires attrition.  Additionally, the new coaches need to take this year to evaluate the current kids on the roster and see how they respond to competent coaching.

For more on the roster, see Offensive Roster Review | Defensive Roster Review | 2010 Signing Class Review

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