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Florida State football, recruiting news: FSU above Clemson in Fox Sports preseason poll

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Florida State v Clemson Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Football

Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports ranks his top teams and Florida State comes in at No. 2.

I like the ‘Noles just a smidge better than Clemson due to a potentially dominant defense led by DEs DeMarcus Walker and Josh Sweat and likely All-American S Derwin James. Much will depend on redshirt freshman and likely starting QB Deondre Francois, but he doesn’t have to put the team on his back with lethal RB Dalvin Cook, a deep receiving corps and much-more experienced offensive line.

Clemson comes in at No. 3.

The Tigers should be special on offense, not just because of star QB Deshaun Watson but RB Wayne Gallman and a stacked receiving corps led by Artavis Scott and Mike Williams. It’s hard to believe last season’s Top 20 defense won’t take a step back after losing six starters early to the NFL. Secondary, in particular, is a big question. But Clemson’s line will be strong inside with Christian Wilkins and Carlos Watkins.

But most surprisingly, Louisville comes in at No. 10. Some on our staff think Louisville is the second-toughest game on the schedule (hello, Bud), and Mandel agrees.

Expect the Cardinals, which won six of their last seven a year ago, to take a sizeable step forward in Bobby Petrino’s third season. Dangerous dual-threat QB Lamar Jackson, who shredded Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl, leads the way. UL has both a deep backfield and receiving corps. Last year’s Top 20 defense brings back eight starters, most notably pass rusher Devonte Fields and DT DeAngelo Brown.

Three ACC teams in the top ten is impressive.

Mandel has FSU opponent Ole Miss at No. 18, North Carolina at 21 and Florida at 24. This schedule is a monster.

Our own Bud Elliott joined Bill King on WNSR-Nashville to talk some Florida State football.

Matt Fortuna of ESPN gives five ACC true freshman who could establish themselves as some of the conference’s best players by the end of 2016. Three members of Florida State’s stacked 2016 recruiting class find themselves on the list.

Florida State kicker Ricky Aguayo

The last name, of course, is familiar to FSU fans. And all Roberto Aguayo did in Tallahassee was become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history (88.4 percent). Big shoes to fill, yes, but the younger Aguayo -- who enrolled early and is expected to start from day one -- is not shying away from the standard set by his big brother.

Florida State linebacker Josh Brown or cornerback Levonta Taylor

Tough call here between the ESPN four-star linebacker Brown and the five-star corner Taylor, so we went with both. Brown, who enrolled in January, might be in a better position to contribute more this upcoming season, as there are likely more opportunities for early playing time at linebacker than in the secondary. Then again, both could contribute early on special teams -- and the punt return game could be an excellent place for Taylor to get noticed in 2016.

UF got some good news on Wednesday when it was reported that star wide receiver Antonio Callaway would open fall camp with the Gators on Thursday even though his case is not yet resolved.

Recruiting

Florida State added a second quarterback to its 2017 recruiting class on Wednesday night when three-star signal caller James Blackmon announced his verbal commitment to FSU.

Two elite 2017 recruits from Mississippi, five-star running back Cam Akers and four-star safety CJ Avery, discussed the possibility of them being a package deal after both took recent visits to Florida State.

David Willis of the Eagle Tribune wrote a fascinating feature on what drew Florida State’s 2017 tight end commit, Alexander Marshall, to the Seminoles.

Alumni

FSU baseball alum Luke Weaver has been promoted to Triple-A Memphis in the Cardinals organization after an impressive stint in Double A.