The gallery for the Jimbo Fisher football recruit camp at Florida State is above, and I'll be adding to it throughout the weekend. Let's get to some news and notes:
-FSU is not pushing hard for commitments right now at many spots. It was made very clear to me in a conversation I had with a good source that the Seminoles do not want to be at 20 commitments right now, and that they want to have spots open for quite a few big fish they're currently chasing. This came about when discussing Clemson's recruiting, as the Tigers are now at 20. My source said good for them, but [Florida State] is loading up for another big year on the field and is recruiting a higher caliber of recruit, and many of the kids FSU is chasing won't be deciding over the summer.
-As long as Fisher has been the head coach, the mindset at these camps has been on coaching, and not rah rah recruiting style stuff. He coaches hard, and makes his coaches coach hard. It's appreciated by high school coaches, parents, and by most of the players, as they are paying to come to camp and get better. Not every school does this. Some are all about promoting their school, having a DJ working the camp, etc. The business attitude is similar to what we hear from recruits about FSU during the recruiting process; how they feel they can trust what FSU is selling because the Seminoles aren't promising crazy things or telling the prospect he is the best player in the history of the sport.
-Florida State QB commitment De'Andre Johnson, of Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast did not work out and he does not plan to. He did not indicate that he was injured, and I think the decision to not work with future position coach Randy Sanders is a bit puzzling.
-Speaking of quarterbacks, D.C. QB Kai Locksley is in town and will be touring camp Friday. I'm told that FSU also likes his ability at receiver, as well as QB, but he is being recruited solely as a QB. He is long and athletic.
-Still speaking of quarterbacks, it is clear from my sources that Jimbo Fisher is enamored with the physical tools of Deondre Francois, the QB who recently transferred to IMG Academy. Francois does have a cannon and a smooth, compact delivery, but he has very little touch or feel. I wonder if he can be coached to be more consistently accurate on short and intermediate routes, to lead receivers, to anticipate, and to not throw fastballs on every pitch. We'll find out more in July when he camps at Florida State.
-2016 RB recruit Kareem Walker of New Jersey spent three days on campus. He didn't want to do much in the way of an interview, but said that he was enjoying himself. Walker did not work out and was just visiting. There were no other FSU-quality running backs on hand through the first two days.
Receivers and rivalry
-I had on an old-school Marlins cap Thursday, and a guy in his 40's pointed it out. The man? Charles Johnson, former catcher of the Marlins. His son, Brandon Johnson, is a four-star receiver for American Heritage (Fla.) Plantation in the class of 2016. Johnson's best offers right now are Miami and South Carolina. The elder Johnson, of course, played for Miami, but he was impressed by FSU's indoor facility.
-Da'Vante Phillips, the four-star WR from Miami Central, was very good in his one session of working out Thursday. He's still not very fast, but he is super physical and has strong hands. Phillips walks around with FSU's current players like he already plays for Florida State, and every single person I speak with discusses him not as an eventual commitment, but as a current commit. Phillips, however, says he'll make his announcement at the All-Star game in January. [winking emoji].
-Tennessee tight end Kyle Oliver did not get his offer as of Thursday afternoon, but one soon wouldn't shock me. I was told that he trains with the dad of FSU superstar safety Jalen Ramsey.
-It's safe to say Ermon Lane will never be the receiver throwing a double-pass for FSU ...
Ermon Lane throwing passes. https://t.co/p87aXN017C— TomahawkNation.com (@TomahawkNation) June 12, 2014
-Speaking of receivers, people I spoke with ('Noles and non-'Noles) felt bad for ex-UF receiver coach Joker Phillips, who was turned in by Miami for visiting with a recruit during a dead period. This happens everywhere, though not always in the same form or fashion, and it just seems like Phillips had some bad luck in getting caught. They believe he is one of the best guys in coaching.
The general feel around camp was that while there is obviously a rivalry between the staffs of FSU and Miami on the recruiting trail, the bad blood that exists between the 'Canes and Gators, is really, really bad. I'm told that the source of this beef is that Miami perceives that UF's coaches were the ones being extremely negative on the recruiting trail, and apparently Miami is snitching on anything and everything it can.
-On the offensive line, 2016 guard Baveon Johnson of Lake Gibson had another strong day. He also has the Florida State "FS" tattooed on his left arm, which could be an indication of what he'd do if FSU were to offer him. His best offers are Wisconsin and Nebraska.
-Also on the offensive line, J.P. Urquidez, a recent 2016 transfer to DeMatha Catholic (D.C.) from Texas (his dad is now stationed at the Pentagon), had an awesome day, showcasing some excellent footwork. And he came away with a Florida State offer. FSU is strong at DeMatha, having landed Brock Ruble in the 2014 class, and E.J. Levenberry (two years at DeMatha) in the 2013 class.
-A source told me that FSU very well could end up offering Geron Christian of Ocala Trinity (Fla.) at offensive guard, and that he could end up playing tackle as well.
-New Smyrna Beach OL Jalen Merrick is expected in Friday or Saturday.
-Defensive tackle remains a black hole. It's as if the talent simply took a year off at the position in the state. I also expect that Florida State will heavily pursue a JUCO defensive tackle in this cycle, as I've maintained for quite some time. Defensive tackle is the position that busts the most often, and FSU has had quite the run recently of excellent DT play. But 2015 is uncertain, relying on guys like Mitchell, Shanks, and Newberry to be significant contributors. A JUCO DT is needed.
-I got some clarification on Florida State's defensive end board. Michael Barnett of Dorchester (S.C.) Woodland High School is down to two schools: FSU and N.C. State. I can tell you that a source was surprised by how put together Barnett is, particularly in the lower body. He checked in at 6'4.25 and 256 pounds, and he has the frame to eventually play at 275 or 280 pounds, which definitely changes his college projection somewhat. I do not believe he will be a guy who is standing up one play and in a three-point stance the next. His hand will be in the dirt.
Barnett plans to commit very soon, and he is looking for a coach who can coach him hard and put him in the NFL, among other things. My interview (coming in full this weekend) with him was shortly after he witnessed Mario Edwards Jr. do the following ridiculousness. Turn the sound on for that clip so you can hear the amazing sound reminiscent of gunshots:
There's some back story here. Sal Sunseri asked Chris Casher to demonstrate the bag drill, and Casher said that he did not have his cleats. Edwards Jr. had just rolled in, had his, and was just putting them on. He then volunteered to do the bags. Sunseri asked Edwards Jr. if he was stretched out and warmed up, and he said that he was (I didn't see him warm up at all, but I guess it is possible that he did it at some other spot). As Edwards Jr. is finishing putting on his cleats, Sunseri has Casher set up the bags, and to mess with Edwards Jr., Casher puts them so close together that they are touching. Understand that is not how the drill is designed, and it's pretty much impossible to swat and flip bags that are touching. Sunseri tells Casher to widen them out, and he does for the first bag, but Edwards Jr., stepping up to the ridiculous challenge, waved him off after he had moved only one. And then he did the above, swatting as he jumps. Everyone standing around lost their minds, and it was definitely a "did that just happen?" moment.
I share this because right after that, Barnett and his coach are having a laugh with Sunseri, Casher and Edwards Jr., and Edwards Jr. and Casher tell the recruit that their footwork was not like that until Coach Sunseri got to Florida State. That's a pretty incredible recruiting pitch. Sunseri added that the only guy he's seen do something like that was Julius Peppers (who Sunseri just happened to have coached in the NFL for his best years in Carolina).
Additional note: All players in sports crack on each other, but the defensive end group really likes to have some fun, with Casher and Edwards Jr. debating who would be a better receiver (both played WR/TE for a time in high school). Casher jokingly challenged Edwards Jr. to a race in the 40-yard dash, and told him that he would give him a four-yard head start. This produced quite a few laughs, because that's a 10 percent advantage and Edwards Jr. would surely win it. But then Sunseri realized Casher was perhaps serious and that his two potential starting defensive ends were seriously contemplating this. He then very seriously said something to the effect of "Oh, NO. No racing, no hamstrings; none of that. Got it?"
My pick for Barnett is Florida State. I do wonder, if he commits this early, will it scare off other priority targets like Josh Sweat, CeCe Jefferson, Arden Key, and others? Other schools absolutely use depth charts and current commitment lists to make a prospect question how much playing time he can get at a school.
And there is also the matter of how many defensive ends FSU can take in this class (two or three) when it absolutely wants to take three in the next class. 2016 is ridiculously loaded with elite defensive ends who have a strong interest in the Seminoles (namely Shane Simmons, Josh Brown and Janarius Robinson, along with two or three more). It is very hard to land three top defensive ends in a year and then do it again in the following class.
Speaking of those young defensive ends, I feel that Brown could soon be a Seminole (full interview coming) and a lot of credit goes to Jay Graham for being the first to offer the North Carolina product. I've also long felt FSU will land Shane Simmons and Janarius Robinson. To be in this position for three elite pass rushers 19 months from the time they can sign their letters of intent is rare.
-2015 DE Shelton Johnson, of Delray Beach Atlantic HS, will be working out Friday. I am excited to see him and have heard good things.
-LB Leo Lewis of Mississippi, an Alabama commitment, really, really enjoyed himself on his visit and I believe that he will follow through on his intention to take an official visit to Tallahassee. There were no other linebackers worth mentioning on the day.
-Texas 4-star cornerback Kris Boyd is the real deal. 6'0, very quick, extremely physical and nasty. FSU thinks it has a better shot at him then some would give them credit for, and he did stay overnight and had a very good time on campus (full interview coming). But it's tough for me to believe he'd commit without bringing his parents on the trip. A&M and the Longhorns may be tough to beat, but Tim Brewster is one heck of a recruiter and has had success in Texas.
-Here's a name to know: Korey Charles, defensive back, North Florida Christian. He dominated Thursday and Dustin Tackett has a full interview coming with the 2016 star.
Updates will be in this comment section Friday, as it is a short session beginning at 9:30 a.m.