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Florida State football recruiting: FSU still whaling

Stacy Revere

Florida State is chasing after quite a few big fish who are not looking to commit any time soon. Recruiting is a game of leverage, and with some players, a school can tell them "you have a spot if you jump on right now, but if you wait, it's anything but guaranteed." With others, that won't work. There is recruiting value in having certainty with some prospects in the fold, and I believe most of Florida State's 10 commitments are very solid at this time (with Tyrek Cole and Cole Minshew being the two I would consider less than solid). 

When schools chase the big fish, they have to be patient and understand how to play the waiting game. Florida State can help itself by continuing to play great football, and sticking with the evaluation process than gave them one of, if not the most talented roster in the country.

But there are also elements beyond Florida State's control. There are a number of prospects in the state who grew up as big UF fans, and to land some of them, it may be that the Seminoles need Florida to have another disappointing year, and a situation in which the administration cleans house in Gainesville. 

FSU is looking to take roughly 25-27 prospects in the 2015 class.  It is still extremely early in the process, Florida State has only about a third of its eventual class committed, and offers are still going out at a steady rate, but if the 10 commitments were to stick, the final 17 or so in the class could be: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, OL, OL, OL, DL, DL, DL, LB, DB, DB, Wildcard.

At running back, the Seminoles are in strong position for superstars Jacques Patrick and Johnny Frazier. At offensive line, four-stars Abdul Bello and Christian Pellage have FSU's attention, as does a new prospect in Jalen Merrick (read below). FSU remains in strong position for five-star defensive end Josh Sweat and four-star defensive tackle Darvin Taylor. 

I'm also seeing a lot of complaining via social media and the comment section and about Florida State's recruiting. Fans think it should take a big jump after winning a national title. The trophy certainly helps, but fans need to realize that FSU's recruiting really cannot get much better than it has been. There's just not much room for improvement. And also realize that prospects do sign with down-and-out programs, like the players who signed up to play for the Seminoles in the 2010 and 2011 classes. In general, fans care more about winning than recruits. There is no reason to expect a drop off in Florida State's recruiting, but there is also no reason to expect it to take an enormous leap forward. Another class with half or more recruits rated as four- or five-stars should be expected, and that is the formula Florida State, and all other champs in the BCS era have followed

Specific recruits

-Nyqwan Murray is in. At 5'10.5 and 163 pounds, the three-star receiver from Orlando projects to fill the slot receiver role for Florida State. Florida State will be signing three or four receivers in the 2015 class as of right now, and I expect that only one of those will be ticketed to play slot. His next best offer is South Carolina, and he also happens to be very tight with Florida State running back target Jacques Patrick, of Orlando. 

Here are Murray's highlights. He was extremely productive against good competition -- 88 catches, 1523 yards and 19 scores as a junior, but given his size, his film does not scream to me that he is criminally underrated as a three-star. He may be somewhat underrated, and if he repeats his junior production, perhaps he will see a significant rise in the rankings. 

I'll also note that this is an odd year in Florida in that typically, we see far more top small receiver than big wideouts, but in 2015, it seems that the big guys are in abundance and there are not that many top slot-receiver types. 

Murray has excellent balance and change of direction. The ability to start and start quickly is very important as a slot receiver since the position requires the player to be able to get open in short spaces and short order. I do not think Murray has elite top-end speed, and he did not report his numbers from the Orlando Nike Camp he attended earlier in the year.  

-Staying in Orlando, it appears that Clemson will beat out Florida State for four-star tight end Garrett Williams when he makes his declaration Monday afternoon. This is a big win for Clemson over the Seminoles as Williams is a Florida State legacy. Williams' faith is extremely important to him, and we know that faith is a major part of Clemson's program -- so much so that it now has to defend a complaint over baptizing players at midfield. Other things like relationships with the staff, and the small-town feel also appeal to Williams. 

Tight ends Hale Hentges and Jalen Wilkerson are still high on FSU's board. Hentges will be much tougher to pull than Wilkerson. FSU needs to take one or two tight ends in the 2015 class, and if JUCO tight end "commit" Josh McNeil can make it in, he will be one of the two. 

-A name to watch in the offensive tackle race: Jalen Merrick. Of New Smyrna Beach (Fla.), the 6'5, 295-pound Merrick has only played a year of football. Coach Rick Trickett stopped by his practice last week and said that he would discuss Merrick with the staff and to call over the weekend. Merrick called and Florida State responded with an offer. The Seminoles want Merrick to come up to one of their two summer camp sessions. Merrick is high on Florida State, and has a connection with former Florida State signee Davarez Bryant

FSU is not going out on a limb in offering Merrick, as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Ohio State, Miami and others also have as well. 

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