Wednesday, five-star Tampa Catholic receiver recruit Nate Craig Myers indicated to 247sports that Florida State was slipping in his recruitment compared to the Gators and the Auburn Tigers. Craig-Myers recruitment is a long way from finished and none of the three programs are out of it, but it does not seem to be trending in Seminoles' direction.
Florida recently gained a commitment from Jayvaughn Myers, a good cornerback recruit who happens to be the half-brother of Craig Myers. He'll certainly be in the five-star's ear about joining him in Gainesville.
And Florida State has had its struggles at times recruiting the Tampa area under coach Lawrence Dawsey, relative to how down the Florida Gators program has been in recent years. Players that Florida State should sign easily have often turned into fights down to the wire, and FSU has even lost out to programs like Clemson for top prospects in the area. Now that Florida has a pulse and the ability to sell a new direction and vision thanks to a staff change, the Gators are storming back in the Bay.
Craig-Myers has previously said that his best relationships, however, are with Dawsey and Auburn receiver coach Dameyune Craig.
But specifically for Craig-Myers, not having a great FSU recruiter in the Tampa area and having his half-brother heading to Gainesville are just some of the issues to overcome.
The biggest issue might be other schools' ability to ensure early playing time.
Florida State has recruited extremely well at the receiver position. About as well as any team in the country, really, with seven of nine receivers on the roster carrying a four-star or better rating as a recruit. And as Tomahawk Nation profiled, Florida State's receiving corps is extremely young. There are no seniors, just two juniors, and no players who reasonably project to leave early for the NFL after this season. That means that all nine receivers on the loaded roster are expected to grow and learn in 2015 and return for 2016.
That is great news for fans of Florida State. Less so for receivers who want to earn significant early playing time. Florida State, like pretty much every successful big school has a track record of playing freshmen, but Florida State's 2016 and 2017 receiver rotations project as some of the toughest for a freshman to crack in the country.
Contrast that to what Florida State is up against in recruiting against the Florida Gators.
Florida has 12 receivers on its 2015 scholarship roster, but only projects to return eight as three seniors leave and stud receiver Demarcus Robinson is widely expected to turn pro. That means the Gators will be returning one less receiver than the Seminoles, and the group that returns will be a lot less talented -- based on both recruiting rankings and by sources familiar with Florida's program.
In fact, with Robinson leaving, people familiar with Florida's roster believe that Craig-Myers would instantly be one of Florida's best receivers. And at 6'3, 220, Craig-Myers could be Florida's best big receiver the moment he steps on campus -- Florida has only two projected returning receivers above 6'1, and to the extent something like this can be projected a year in advance, its most talented returners seem to be 5'9 Brandon Powell and 5'11 Antonio Callaway.
Auburn also loses four senior receivers off its squad.
Neither school is likely to guarantee Craig-Myers a starting job, but the Gators and Tigers can lay out a much more likely path to early playing time than the Seminoles.
How much will that matter to Craig-Myers? A lot probably depends on the quality of quarterback play the Gators get this year. If red-shirt freshman Will Grier shows promise, early playing time might be quite the draw. If the Florida QB plays poorly, playing early in Gainesville might become less important. Auburn will also look to show that it is more receiver-friendly and less of a spread-option attack under new QB Jeremy Johnson
How can Florida State counter the pitch?
It can point out that it has a history of turning out elite receivers under this staff, while McElwain has no current track record in Gainesville. This is a long-term play focused on certainty. FSU can also promote the consistent high-level QB play the Seminoles have had under Jimbo Fisher. That matters to receivers.
It can also note that while Florida is likely returning only eight receivers, few of which could put up much of a fight for playing time against Craig-Myers, the Gators may take four, five or six receiver recruits in this class who certainly will compete.
The Seminoles, on the other hand, are only taking two -- four-star Keith Gavin, of Wakulla, and one more (with Craig-Myers being the top uncommitted target). That could have an impact on the prospects for early playing time in Years 2-4.
Craig-Myers recruitment will be a fascinating follow throughout the fall.