Florida State football had a very solid turnout for its March 1 junior day. Here are some photos of the top prospects who showed up. Some South Florida prospects didn't show due to playing in a 7-on tournament, and the normal travel issues emerged, but overall, the turnout was quite good. Here are interviews and thoughts on 12 of the top players from the event.
I spoke with Jacques Patrick after the event. The four-star Orlando running back wants to decide in late October, on his little brother's birthday. He plans to return to Florida State for spring practice and the spring game. He also wants to see Auburn, Alabama, Miami, Clemson, USC, UCLA and Oregon. And he says that he can see himself fitting in Florida State's offense and making an early impact, and cited Karlos Williams excellent yardage totals on very limited carries in 2014, and the NFL-bound Wilder and Freeman.
Patrick is being recurited by Orlando recruiter Rick Trickett and running backs coach Jay Graham. He spoke with them and Jimbo Fisher about a few topics.
"We talked about playing time, my mom, that kind of stuff and stuff I can't talk about," Patrick said coyly.
Patrick does plan to take official visits before he makes his final decision.
I believe Patrick is the top back on FSU's board. He is a true 6'2, 220 as a running back, and keeps getting better. I have fewer concerns about him at RB than I did with James Wilder, Jr. I believe FSU would wait for Patrick even until National Signing Day.
Ray Ray McCloud
The Tampa (Fla.) Sickles RB/Slot prospect brought his whole family with him to Florida State, just days after being offered by Florida State. The four-star came away impressed, but did not commit.
"Growing up I told myself that the day FSU offered me I would commit and all of this, that I would be going to school there, but I want to visit other schools and keep my options open and see what other schools I feel comfortable with," McCloud said to Noles247 ($).
McCloud is a good player, and FSU will take 2-3 running backs in this class, but I do not believe he is of the caliber that FSU would hold a spot for a long time, or turn away other good players to wait on a possible yes from McCloud. This is the Sunshine State, and 5'9, 175 does sort of grow on trees.
This was a great position Saturday, and I have some thoughts below on the position as a whole.
Brooksville (Fla.) Nature Coast High School's four-star tackle was impressed with FSU on his visit. He does hold an FSU offer.
"No sir, not yet," Pellage said when asked if he committed on the visit. "By the end of summer I'll probably have a decision."
Pellage really liked the indoor facility and was also high on the weight room.
"[offensive line coach Trickett] said I've gotten a lot bigger and improved a lot since camp last summer," he said. "Trickett says I have to improve my hand strength and my punch."
Pellage claims that all schools are even for him right now. In my opinion, FSU has an excellent shot to land him. He plans to return for spring and for summer camps. Pellage may also visit South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, all of which have recently offered.
I came away very impressed with William Sweet. He looks completely different than he did a year or two ago, and the three-star offensive tackle from Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast is just another example of how each player develops physically on his own timetable. As you can see in the photo gallery, the big tackle came in at a trim 6'6, 275. He also has offers from Florida and North Carolina, and picked up his FSU offer Saturday.
"I like Coach Trickett," Sweet said to Noles247 ($). "I respect Coach Trickett. He is a very honest guy. Like Coach Fisher and everybody said, ‘what you see is what you get'. I would rather it be that way now instead of when I get here then you see something different. I'm glad they do it that kind of way, because what you see is what you get.
"He said that we really like you and that there is always room for improvement," Sweet added. "He is not going to tell you what you want to hear, he is going to tell you the truth. That is why I respect him so much for that."
Emanuel McGirt II
I caught up with the Durham (N.C.) Hillside three-star offensive tackle on his way to the car.
"I really liked it," McGirt said of the trip. "The facilities and the coaches stood out the most. They told me they like my athleticism and my size, and they were glad I made the trip down."
McGirt does not list an FSU offer, but one could come soon, as FSU is figuring out its offensive tackle board. McGirt is visiting South Carolina for its junior day on March 29. McGirt has offers from Tennessee, South Carolina and all the North Carolina schools.
I'm about to work harder than I ever have. Imma show them.— Emanuel McGirt Jr. (@Mcgirt7) March 2, 2014
Harrison Moon, three-star tackle out of Nashville, is very high on FSU and while he doesn't yet have an offer, he does plan to return this summer for camp. He is probably 20-25 pounds bigger than when I saw him last summer. Moon is a developmental offensive lineman. "We run the wing-t, so I was basically doing it anyway," he said of his transition from tight end to tackle. I am not sure if FSU will offer Moon, as they are sitting pretty with offensive line recruiting at the moment. Moon would like to have his decision before his senior year, but said that it is not important that he do so.
Interesting note: Moon said that the coaches told him they are taking 5-6 OL. We forecasted 4-5 in our recent article.
The national champions can be very picking in getting their five offensive linemen this year. They already have two committed in Ethan Frith and Cole Minshew, plus Kendrick Norton who could be a hard despite being recruited at DT. In addition to Pellage, Sweet and McGirt, FSU still has an excellent shot at Abdul Bello and Patrick Allen (more on that pair this month), plus other players who will surely emerge. There is no need to fill up at this position early.
Special committed pair: Derwin James & Calvin Brewton
Five-star safety Derwin James and four-star safety Calvin Brewton are both extremely solid to Florida State, plan to enroll early, and are recruiting others to the school.
James wore an FSU hat with "D. James" and "c/o 2015" on it. I asked his dad about that and the tattoo he has of the Seminole head on his bicep. "I like the hat, but he's done with the tattoos," Mr. James said. "He's out of room, no tattoos on the neck or forearms." "He's just talking'," James responded on twitter.
Brewton brought his family with him on the trip. His recovery from shoulder surgery is going well. He is very solid to Florida State, is recruiting fellow teammate D'Vante Phillips (4-star WR) to FSU, and is also working to keep FSU commitment Tyrek Cole in the fold (Cole recently said he was "100% open, but committed.").
"I'm 100% Nole," Brewton said with a smile. "I'll be back for spring and summer camp."
Both James and Brewton are planing to enroll early -- a major focus for the 2015 class, as FSU looks to bring as many players in spring as possible to offset potentially massive personnel losses.
Boynton Beach QB/Athlete Lamar Jackson enjoyed his trip to FSU. He does have an offer from Florida State, and said that FSU is offering him as a QB. Interestingly, he noted that he spent time with Charles Kelly, as well (Kelly coaches DBs, which is another spot Jackson could play).
Jackson said that the coaches stressed academics, and that FSU's tutoring program was very big for him (Jackson missed his sophomore year due to grades). He was extremely impressed with the individual academic attention given to the players, and was happy to hear Myron Rolle's speech on academics and life.
He has FSU in his top three, along with Clemson and West Virginia.
Jackson will visit again for the spring game.
The three-star QB out of Orlando (Fla.) Olympia said that Jimbo Fisher told him his offer was indeed committable, and praised his arm strength. FSU measured him at 6 1 1'/2", 194.
FSU, Ohio State, Penn State and Kentucky stand out for Francois. He is looking to visit Ohio State and Tennessee soon, if possible.
Francois liked that Jimbo Fisher, notable for his photo-like memory for sports, remembered a specific highlight play from his junior year film and asked Francois about it. Fisher told Francois that he won't just snap the ball to anyone, and that he likes to hand-pick his quarterbacks.
Darvin Taylor II
Davin Taylor is a very solid defensive tackle out of Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale. He came in at 6'2 5'8" and 304 pounds, and is well put together. Taylor actually came down to Tallahassee last summer as his dad had an event in South Florida. I didn't realize he had been in town during the summer camp because he didn't camp, but he did visit. His connection to Florida is through his dad, a career military man.
Taylor and his dad are both very high on defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins.
"He's like another dad to me. My dad tells me what I need to hear not what I want to hear and that's what coach Odell does too," Taylor added. "He tells me that if II were to come to FSU, I need to work hard all the time, high school, college, have a non-stop motor."
Taylor also took in the academic presentation, and liked that the communications schools is in the stadium.
FSU is one of Taylor's top choices. I expect him to pick FSU when he commits on August 28. Virginia Tech may be the biggest competition. He will also see Tennessee and Marlyland soon.
Taylor also mentioned knowing 2014 signees Derrick Nnadi and Alec Eberle, or Virginia, and called Virginia/DC a "pipeline" to Florida State.
The four-star from Orlando (Fla.) First Academy came away impressed with Florida State, though not much of it was new to the legacy tight end. He was impressed with his tight ends coach Tim Brewster has developed tight ends like Nick O'Leary and Antonio Gates. And Florida State showed him how it can use him in many different formations.
Williams will release a top-five soon, and Florida State and Clemson will be on it.
"I love Clemson, and I've been in Tallahassee my whole life," he said of the two ACC schools, noting they are both incredible programs.
Williams noted that FSU's pro-style offense probably prepares tight ends a little bit better for the NFL than Clemson's, but that Clemson really finds creative ways to get the tight end the football when it has a good tight end, like 2011 All-American Dwayne Allen.
I think FSU has a very good shot at Williams, but he does really like Clemson and is intrigued by Stanford. I was impressed by how much bigger he was than this time a year ago.