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Is FSU struggling with high school recruiting under Mike Norvell? Part 3: Comparing FSU with its rivals

How does FSU stack up against its three biggest rivals in prep recruiting?

Florida v Florida State Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Welcome to the third piece in my article series examining high school recruiting results under Mike Norvell. Part 1 covered the numbers behind FSU’s high school and transfer portal recruiting during Mike Norvell’s tenure as head coach.

In Part 2, I took a deeper dive into the names behind the numbers to analyze the attrition and additions yielded by each high school recruiting class.

In Part 3, we’re examining how FSU’s prep recruiting numbers compare to its three biggest rivals in the Miami Hurricanes, Florida Gators, and Clemson Tigers.

Surprise! Based on the amount of information, I’m going to write a Part 4 piece where we’ll put it all together and answer the question once and for all: does Mike Norvell’s FSU coaching staff struggle to recruit high school prospects?

As a refresher, Mike Norvell and his staff have signed a total of 78 high school recruits over the past four classes (an average of 19.5 per cycle). The 247 Sports Composite average national ranking of the prep signee portion of each class is 21.

FSU has weathered 33 total decommitments in the past four classes, though two of those players recommitted. 21 of the 33 were blue-chips, including two 5-star prospects, translating to just under 64%. Factoring in the number of recommitments, Florida State has an enrollee:decommit ratio of 2.52:1 (78:31). This means that for every permanent decommitment FSU suffered, it successfully enrolled 2.52 commitments.

In my experience in the recruiting threads and comment sections of recruiting articles, those who ask the underlying question driving this article series often compare Norvell’s results to the results of a few other programs. Let’s take a look at some data from FSU’s three rival programs that are mentioned most frequently by those upset with FSU’s results.

Miami Hurricanes

The Miami Hurricanes experienced a coaching transition in the past four years. Manny Diaz was strung along as Miami pursued Mario Cristobal, ultimately dumping Diaz after some time in limbo for the prodigal son, with 2022 being Cristobal’s debut season.

Under Diaz, the Hurricanes recruiting classes finished 11th in 2020 and 2021 and 13th in the 2022 transition cycle. Cristobal’s inaugural 2023 recruiting class finished 7th nationally. That’s an average national ranking of 10.5, but let’s take a closer look at those classes.

  • The 2020 class finished 11th nationally with 21 enrollees, but suffered a remarkable 20 decommitments throughout the cycle. Three of those decommitments eventually recommitted, but of the 20 decommits, 12 were 4-stars and eight were 3-stars. That’s right- 60% of their decommitments were blue-chips. Two of their top four highest-ranked commitments jumped ship.
  • The 11th-ranked 2021 class had 22 enrollees, but also suffered 11 decommitments. Four of those recommitted but of the 11, one was a 5-star, four were 4-stars, and six were 3-stars.
  • Miami’s 2022 transition class finished 13th with only 15 enrollees, suffering six decommitments. Two of those were 4-stars and four were 3-stars.
  • The 2023 Hurricanes class finished 7th with 15 enrollees, but also lost six decommitments, including one of Miami’s top two rated commitments. One 5-star, three 4-stars, and two 3-stars jumped ship.

To recap, Miami has enrolled 74 prep prospects in the last four cycles and suffered 43 decommitments (seven of whom eventually recommitted). That’s 10 more than FSU. 23 of the 43 decommitments were blue-chip players (two 5-stars and 21 4-stars), roughly 53%. Factoring in the number of recommitments, Miami has an enrollee:decommit ratio of 1.72:1 (74:43).

Florida Gators

The Gators also made a coaching change over the past four years. Cousin Eddy Dan Mullen was ushered out in favor of Billy Napier, who also made his debut in the 2022 campaign. Napier, if you recall, was a FSU assistant coach under Jimbo Fisher for about 6 hours in early 2013 before answering Nick Saban’s call and leaving for Tuscaloosa. Could’ve had a national championship ring if he’d stayed for the 2013 season… bummer, Billy.

The Gators finished 7th nationally in recruiting in the 2020 cycle, 12th in 2021, and 17th in the 2022 transition class. Napier’s first full recruiting cycle netted the Gators a ranking of 12th. Again, let’s take a deeper dive into those classes.

  • The 2020 class finished 7th nationally with 23 enrollees, but suffered a 12 decommitments throughout the cycle. Two of those decommitments eventually recommitted, but seven of the 12 decommitments were 4-stars and four were 3-stars. That means 58% of UF’s decommitments were blue-chips.
  • The 12th-ranked 2021 class had 22 enrollees but suffered 10 decommitments, 60% of which were blue-chips, including UF’s highest-ranked commitment. One was a 5-star, five were 4-stars, and four were 3-stars.
  • UF’s 2022 transition class finished 17th with 20 enrollees, suffering 14 decommitments (one of which eventually recommitted). 58% (eight) of those were blue-chip 4-stars, five were 3-stars, and one did not have a ranking. Two of their top three highest-ranked commitments in the cycle jumped ship.
  • The 2023 Gators class finished 12th with 16 enrollees, but also lost 10 decommitments in Napier’s first full cycle. Five 4-stars and five 3-stars jumped ship, meaning 50% of UF’s decommitments were blue-chip prospects.

To recap, UF has enrolled 81 prep prospects in the last four cycles and suffered 46 decommitments (three of whom eventually recommitted). That’s 13 more than FSU. 26 of the 46 decommitments were blue-chip players (one 5-star and 25 4-stars), roughly 57%. Factoring in the number of recommitments, the Gators have an enrollee:decommit ratio of 1.69:1 (78:46).

Clemson Tigers

Finally, we come to the Clemson Tigers. Though they haven’t undergone a head coaching change in the last four seasons, they’ve had turnover among longtime coordinators and assistant coaches, which is reflected in recent dips in recruiting rankings (IMO).

The 2020 cycle saw Clemson finish 3rd nationally, while the Tigers landed the 5th-best class in 2021. However, Clemson slipped to 14th in 2023 and 15th in 2023. Let’s look more closely at those classes.

  • The 2020 class is an example of the dominance Clemson showed on the recruiting trail during its peak under Dabo Swinney. The Tigers finished 3rd nationally with 23 enrollees and no decommitments.
  • The 5th-ranked 2021 class had 18 enrollees but suffered two decommitments, including the 2nd-ranked player in the nation (and Clemson’s top recruit) and a 4-star player. Both decommitments were blue-chip prospects.
  • Clemson’s 2022 class showed cracks, finishing 14th nationally with 21 enrollees. The Tigers suffered four decommitments, all blue-chips, including two of their top four commitments. Two 5-stars and two 4-stars jumped the orange-and-purple ship this cycle.
  • The 2023 Tigers class finished 15th, despite a total of 26 enrollees. Clemson lost three decommitments, though one of those would recommit. Two 4-stars and one 3-star decommitted from Clemson last year, a 67% ratio.

To recap, Clemson has enrolled 88 prep prospects in the last four cycles and suffered only nine decommitments (one of whom eventually recommitted). That’s 24 less than FSU. Eight of the nine decommitments were blue-chip players (three 5-stars and 5 4-stars), roughly 89%. Factoring in the number of recommitments, the Tigers have an enrollee:decommit ratio of 11:1 (88:8).

How does FSU stack up?

Let’s take a look at some rapid-fire comparisons over the past four completed recruiting cycles:

Prep enrollees (total)

  • Clemson: 88
  • UF: 81
  • FSU: 78
  • Miami: 74

Prep decommitments (total):

  • UF: 46
  • Miami: 43
  • FSU: 33
  • Clemson: 9

Prep blue-chip decommitments (total):

  • UF: 26
  • Miami: 23
  • FSU: 21
  • Clemson: 8

There you have it, folks. I’m going to hold off on my own conclusions for Part 4, but what do you think? How does FSU stack up to its three primary rivals?