Filling needs with talent. That's the goal of recruiting and any analysis of a recruiting effort must start there. Let's ask Tom Luginbill of ESPN:
For information on all of FSU's signees, check out our full recap of the class: Full Recap of Florida State's Recruiting Class Make sure to check out that link. Scouting reports and video there.
There's a logical fallacy going on here. Nobody wants players who can't play. And if kids can't play they will eventually end up elsewhere. But how do we know if the current players can play? Everyone will acknowledge that the previous defensive staff was brutal over the last few years. Look no further than how FSU wasted Myron Rolle-- now considered a very good NFL safety prospect. This is a guess, but I don't think we really know if the current defensive players can play. And I don't think FSU's new coaches do either. They might think they know, but I'm pretty sure they want to have a spring with the returning kids to see if they can perform under a competent level of instruction. It's something a lot of us, including myself, might have overlooked. The coaching staff doesn't want to throw away kids who can play based solely off the player's poor performance under incompetent, lame duck defensive coaching staffs.
Which brings me to numbers. We had thrown out that FSU might take 29 kids. Eventually that turned into "planned to take 29 kids." It shouldn't have. FSU could have taken 29 kids if every kid they wanted elected to be a Nole. I am told that the coaches had a set minimum. If they failed to meet that minimum at any one position, then they would be forced to reach for a lesser talented kid. But once they reached that threshold, they would not reach for lesser talented players simply to add more numbers.
FSU filled its needs with talent and did not need to reach. FSU needed a quarterback and got the top QB in the state, Clint Trickett. The 'Noles needed 1-2 running backs and filled the need with Debrale Smiley, a 240 lb full grown man. I can't tell you how impressed I am with FSU signing, placing, and getting back two JUCO kids. FSU needed 4-6 wide receivers. At first I thought that was a bunch, but after realizing Taiwan Easterling could leave for baseball full time (if it happens expect it after this football season), kids can transfer for playing time, and Jarmon Fortson still has accountability and responsibility issues. To fill their ned of 4-6 wideouts, FSU signed one of the best 5 wide receiver classes in the country, featuring ESPNU 150 players Christian Green and Kenny Shaw. They also added 3 other really talented kids. Need filled. On the offensive line, FSU didn't absolutely need to take anyone and would have taken a maximum of three kids if the kids were a perfect fit. FSU grabbed one in Dan Foose, which is well within need. Foose is a bit of a late bloomer and a solid 3* recruit. I know that FSU's staff is extremely excited about next year's offensive line class, in which the Noles will look to take 3-5 linemen. At the tight end position, FSU really needed to grab two players. They did that, taking stud TE Will Tye and hanging onto Georgia's Tank Sessions. When it comes to the offense, the needs were filled and filled with talented players who fit the system.
Of course, there were few needs on offense. FSU already had one of the best offenses in the country. The needs on the defensive side were larger. As discussed above, only Washington State had a worse defense among BCS conferences. And it starts up front. FSU needed 5-6 defensive linemen, depending on breakdown by position. If they couldn't get the 5 they wanted, they would have to reach for a lesser player. They absolutely would take more than 5 if the players were kids they wanted (not reaches). But they got their 5 and I'm told they really love the 5. Bjoern Werner is a soon to be 21 year old freshman who at 6'4" 280 lbs can be an immediate impact guy on the outside. Yes, I said outside. While Werner (4*) has the ability to play inside, his placement on the outside is representative of FSU's desire to get bigger players. When in the last 10 years have you seen FSU have a 280 lb defensive end? Darious Cummings, a 6'2" 277 lb 4* defensive end should have an immediate impact as well. Ditto Anthony "Amp" McCloud, the RsSo JUCO 6'3" 305 lb defensive tackle who should play around 300 lbs. They also added two young 300 lbers who will likely redshirt and then contribute in Damien Jacobs and Cameron Erving. This was not a great defensive line class. I thought FSU would have done better. But they did meet their needs and the one area in which they really excelled was getting kids who can play immediately. Here's Werner committing:
As for the three misses... Collectively, they don't look good. But to understand them we need to look at them individually. FSU was in a battle for Corey Lemonier, the talented defensive end out of Miami. And I'll say they just got outrecruited. Not blown away, mind you, but slightly out recruited. That was a close battle which Auburn won. Take some solace in knowing that Lemonier is not someone who would have contributed immediately. Jr. "Ego" Ferguson is a different story. FSU fans don't want to hear this, but simply getting him on campus for an official visit after the kid had shown very little interest in Florida State is a big victory. That FSU was in the final discussion is a testament to the recruiting efforts of the coaches. In the end, his dad wanted him to go to Notre Dame and he wanted to be a 'Nole. They compromised and he selected LSU, which appealed more to his dad because as I was told "They've had their act together for more than 5 weeks." FSU didn't think they were getting Ferguson. And they didn't plan or depend on getting Ferguson. That's important, because classes really start to fall apart when a staff depends on getting a kid it does not get. And while they could have grabbed some others, they would have been reaches. I don't want to say a whole lot on Calvin Smith. FSU was very "meh" on the kid. When a kid picks New Mexico over Tennessee and Florida State, you know $omething funny is going on. Everyone knew the deal with Calvin. Whatever school would give Calvin Smith's dad a job would get him. FSU and Tennessee weren't going to set that precedent. Calvin should also invest in some eye drops because he looked high as a kite during his announcement. Finally, some have been pretty vocal about FSU telling J.C. Copeland the class was full 3 weeks ago when he showed interest. The thought behind that was that FSU already had SDE Cummings, thought they had a shot at getting at least one of Werner or Ferguson, and didn't want to scare off Lemonier.
That FSU wasn't counting on those kids but rather regarding them as bonuses tells me two things. First, it tells me that FSU really likes the young talent it already has on the defensive line (and conversely thinks Jody Allen was a terrible defensive ends coach). And two, it tells me they really like the kids they brought in. Had they not, I believe FSU would have taken more guys on the defensive line. With only one senior on the defensive line this coming season, this line is still quite young. While I wanted to take 6 and not 5, and really wanted Corey Lemonier, there is a lot to like here and FSU is not setting itself up to be thin on the defensive line.
FSU needed to re-load at linebacker. With injuries, graduation, combined with poor recruiting in past years, the Noles needed to take 5 linebackers. They could get by with 4. As a quick aside, linebackers are crucial on special teams. FSU has had to use wide receivers too often on coverage and punt teams in past years. Having a need for 5 'backers presents problems. How do you convince multiple talented kids to come play for you? Kids aren't dumb. They can see who else a school is bringing in. Do they really want to go to a school that is also recruiting 4 other linebacker studs? Typically, they do not. But FSU somehow convinced them to do just that. The 'Noles linebacker class is far and away the best in the country. FSU signed the #1 MLB in Jeff Luc, and the #2 OLB in Christian Jones. In all, FSU signed 4 of the country's top 15 'backers. They also signed Holmes Onwukaife of Texas, who is very underrated due to a nasty ankle injury which prevented him from playing in front of as many scouts as the typical kid. Two 5*'s, Two 4*'s, and a 3*. Far and away the best linebacker class in the country. Thre really isn't an I'm still shocked they pulled it off. Expect 4 of the 5 kids to make big contribution on special teams and for several to get significant playing time. Here's Jones committing:
As for the defensive backfield, FSU needed 4-6 signees. And they met that need, signing 4 really talented kids. You can read the linked article to see the information on all the signees, but they signed the top corner in the country in Lamarcus Joyner, the arguably the top JUCO corner in the country in Mike Harris (#2 at worst). They also added a top 20 corner in Terrence Brooks. Chad Abram (no "s" in "Abram") is rated as the #13 safety in the country. FSU did lose out on Terrence Mitchell last week, a highly rated corner who decommitted to play for USF after he realized he could play right away for the hometown bulls and would be their only cornerback commitment.
And then there was the controversial Demar Dorsey. Lightning fast. Inconsistent. A top 10 player. A top 200 player. Demar Dorsey is whoever you want him to be. A kid who has turned his grades around? A kid at an alternative school for behavioral and learning problems. A kid with charges of burglary and armed robbery. Dorsey is polarizing and dynamic. And he is the one kid on signing day that FSU's coaches thought they would get and did not. Dorsey chose Michigan on signing day just a week after he decommitted from UF and committed to FSU on his official visit, largely because he has family in Ann Arbor. That Michigan promised him he could play offense didn't hurt its chances. I'm told that the coaches were disappointed that he decommitted because they felt he had turned himself around somewhat, but also acknowledged that he'd be a kid they would worry about every day. The main thing was to get him away from UF, because he could be really good on the off chance that he got his act together Personally, I did not want Dorsey. I thought he would be a hindrance to the culture change the new staff is trying to implement. FSU fans will follow Dorsey closely at Michigan.
But some FSU fans were disappointed in the class.
Their expectations were unrealistic. So what about those expectations? Where did they come from? RIvals, ESPN, and us as well. On the day that Bobby Bowden retired, FSU's recruiting class was ranked 39th on rivals. It wasn't ranked on ESPN (they rank only 25). There were multiple ACC teams ranked higher. FSU was not in the national discussion. People reading our weekly recruiting reports saw FSU fans speculating about landing a top 15 class and avoiding disaster. I don't think anyone on our staff thought that FSU would pull into the top 10. Nobody thought that an ACC team that failed to have a regular season winning record against D1 teams in 3 of the last 4 years would pull of what the 'Noles did.
And what they did was pull in an unquestioned top 10 class that also filled needs. ESPN rated them 6th, Rivals 10th. And FSU didn't attain that top ranking by taking a ton of kids. FSU took 24, and each kids filled a specific need. If you look at the average star rating, FSU has a 3.50, better than two teams rated higher than it. I am not trying to argue that FSU should be ranked higher. Those teams with more signees and equal star rating should be where they are. ESPN rates the class 6th. FSU has 8 ESPNU150 players. Only Florida, Texas, and Alabama have more.
Some have argued that this class is not an improvement over the last 3 classes. They argue that that at 10th, the class is not much better than last year's #7 ranked class of the #9 rated 2008 class. But I'll direct you to this:http://www.rivals.com/teamrankenrolled.asp Look where those 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes ended up when RIvals.com re-ranked them in August, based only on the kids that got into school! After all, if a kid doesn't get into school, he cannot contribute.
- FSU's 2008 class ended up with 29 enrolled prospects. Those prospects averaged 3.24 stars. It finished with a #8 ranking. That class is the foundation of the current team.
- FSU's 2009 class dropped to 12th overall, enrolling only 18 players, at an average star rating of 3.56 after 3 could not enroll.
FSU's class had 24 players at an average of 3.5 stars. Fisher said he expects all 24 to qualify. If his prediction comes true, this class will have an almost identical average star rating to the 2009 class while taking 6 more players. That's tough to do because the extra players are typically rated lower and drag down the average.
It's also quite tough to recruit with only 5 guys (Bowden, Amato, Andrews, Allen, and Carter were not recruiting for much of the year), with a program in chaos, and continuing to fight the probation misinformation campaign waged by other schools. If FSU can pull this class together with half a coaching staff, imagine what it can do next year when the Noles should take 22-28 players (depending on attrition). Recruiting exerts always say to judge a coach off his 2nd recruiting class (typically his first full year with his staff). We saw that with Miami in 2008 as the Canes had the #1 class. And we saw this year with Auburn as the Tigers pulled in the #4 (or #3 on Rivals) class. What will this staff do when it has a full year together? FSU fans have to be excited.