Tony Stevens Scouting Report
* Ball skills
* Agility/Body control
* Willing and aggressive blocker
* Route running
Stevens is interesting in the fact that he is a prospect that even most diehard recruitniks were unaware of as recently as a month ago. His highlight film changed that as he quickly became a You Tube sensation and has been able to garner several scholarship offers in the weeks after his film going live. The first thing that stands out about Stevens is his uncanny body control which enables him to adjust to the ball as it's in flight. Stevens is a receiver who showcases elite level agility as he is able to track the ball after it is delivered by the quarterback, adjust and contort his body positioning even after leaving his feet, and snatch the ball out of the air. Stevens is able to do this whether it be on well thrown balls in which a defender just has good position, on or slightly errant throws that he is able to convert into completions nonetheless. Stevens shows great footwork along the sideline as well having the presence of mind to drag his feet in bounds at the completion of yet another of his signature acrobatic receptions. While not the most thickly built receiver, Stevens has room for growth and plays the position in a physical manner. Whether it be by his aggressively hauling in passes away from defenders or his willingness to throw blocks in the open field, even if it might be away from the actual play itself.
Now, when catching the ball Stevens is a natural 'plucker'. Meaning he's very natural when it comes to catching the ball away from his body. However, Stevens is savvy enough to turn his back toward the defender and bring the ball into his frame in situations where he anticipates being hit. This subtle adjustment increases the likelihood of a receiver being able to maintain possession of a pass despite being contacted by an oncoming defender right after the catch. Stevens has good 'game' speed but isn't necassarily a burner. Nonetheless, he is able to outpace defenders once he's gained a step on them. Stevens has a long way to go in the area of route running and just doesn't seem to have the most expansive route tree as this point in time. That’s something that comes into play as there are instances in which he doesn't generate the separation you would anticipate for a kid of his talents. Stevens has loose hips and quick feet that allow him to showcase 'plus' open field running ability and elusiveness on punt returns. So the route running issues are most likely something that can be cleaned up via quality coaching as he has the short area quickness to be able to get in and out of breaks cleanly. Even now Stevens displays savvy in utilizing subtle moves and jab steps to get defenders to open up their hips, allowing him to gain a free release off the line. Stevens outpaces defenders more so after the catch as opposed to through the actual route so being able to generate separation at the line of scrimmage is a very good trait to have at his disposal while he develops into a more polished route runner. Stevens is still raw in some areas but has the size, hands, and overall physical ability to become a true number one target at the collegiate level once he becomes more proficient at the technical aspects of the wide receiver position.no comments
Sojourn Shelton Scouting Report (FSU Commit)
* Change of direction
* Foot quickness
* Long speed
Shelton was FSU's second commit for the 2013 recruiting cycle having accepted an offer after a stellar showing at the 2011 Jimbo Fisher Camp. An incoming junior at Plantation High School at that time; Shelton was one of, if the best cover guys at the event. Now Shelton is a smaller corner, measuring in at just under 5-9 and 160 pounds. But, he is a player who possesses excellent hip turn ability which allows him to smoothly transition out of his backpedal. One thing I've noticed is that Shelton has improved from his sophomore to junior seasons in the area of staying low in his stance. Not only at the line, but also through his backpedal, which helps his ability to turn and run with receivers deep. Shelton shows discipline and savvy beyond his years as he keeps his eyes locked unto the midsection of his assigned receiver, and often disguises his coverage responsibility by showing press-man at the line and then passing the receiver off into the intermediate zone. His two best attributes are probably his quick feet and length as he possesses a very long wingspan for a player of his height, enabling him to play bigger than his listed measurables. Very willing to press receivers at the line and will generate his share of PBU's and interceptions due to his length and the great awareness that he shows in being able to locate the football in the air. He is one of the most aggressive kids I've seen this year in terms of attacking the football while it's in flight.
Shelton showcases elite foot quickness that allows him to mirror receivers as they get in and out of their breaks. His long speed is a concern as there are instances in which a receiver is simply going to win on the route and create separation. Shelton will need to improve his long speed in order to make up ground in instances where a receiver gets a step on him. Right now, he best projects as a zone corner at the college level with very good plant and drive ability. Will need to bulk up at least 15 pounds in order to have the overall strength to effectively play both press-man at the line, and re-route receivers through zones. Is a willing tackler and flashes some aggressiveness in pursuing ball carriers, but will need to improve his technique in order to be able to bring bigger wide receivers and running backs to the ground consistently. His size will remind some of Greg Reid, but Shelton utilizes a more disciplined style of game and is less reliant on taking chances, preferring to use his elite quickness and technique to put himself in position to make game changing plays.no comments
Ryan Green Scouting Report
RB, 5'10 195 lbs.
2011 Stats: 115 carries 1268 yards 16 Touchdowns (4 kickoff return touchdowns)
* Straight line speed
* Top shelf athleticism for the running back position
* In line running skills
* Ability to generate yards after contact
Read More and see Video after the jump
Here's an overall rundown of Florida State's haul of players for 2012 and thoughts on how it played out in the end.
The Florida State Seminoles addressed needs at linebacker with the early commitment of Stone Mountain (GA) High School linebacker Ekeme "Markuss" Eligwe and by flipping the commitment of Jacksonville First Coast High School athlete Reggie Northrup who was previously committed to Miami. Florida State's linebacker depth needed to be addressed due to the graduation of three time leading tackler Nigel Bradham and the disciplinary issues and ultimate departure of freshman Arrington Jenkins. Northrup is gap crashing, hard hitting, tackling machine, with excellent instincts who should be able to thrive behind the Seminoles constantly reloading defensive line. He presents a slightly different skillset than the majority of the linebackers currently at FSU due to being a pure "Mike" backer who carries more athleticism than current starting middle linebacker Vince Williams and his projected backup Jeff Luc who are bigger and stronger. Northrup brings combination of instincts, physicality, and skill that may not only surprise FSU supporters, but also possibly make Reggie a fan favorite. Eligwe projects as an outside linebacker who will likely be one the most athletically gifted backers on the team. "Markuss" as he is called, is still a bit raw after spending the majority of his snaps at quarterback this past high school season. With the Seminoles bowing out of the running for Miramar Cornerback Tracy Howard late in the process it was important to land a top tier cover cornerback. That specific need was met with the commitment of former Notre Dame Pledge; Potomac (MD) high school speedster Ronald Darby who will also run track for the Noles.no comments
The dust has settled, and another exciting National Signing Day is in the books. Today was no different than signing days of the past. There was shock and awe, disappointment, jubilation, and many moments where you couldn't help but scratch your head (ie, Deontay Greenberry). While a top ranked recruiting class, doesn't necessarily translate into a top ranked football team, winning battles in the recruiting trenches, can go a long way towards success on the field. Many programs around the country, put the wheels in motion towards success on the gridiron by adding depth to their squad, filling needs, or simply by signing a game changing athlete here or there.
Before we close the door on the 2012 recruiting class, and look towards the 2013 class (recruiting never stops), we must take a final look at this year's class, primarily amongst Florida's big three universities. There is no greater recruiting hot bed than the state of Florida. That has been proven year after year with the number of blue chippers that have signed and excelled at D1 programs. On any given Friday night during the fall, you can make your way from Dade County, all the way up to Jacksonville, and find a great deal of special athletes putting their talents on display.
Being that the state is so fertile, it makes it so each of the big 3 (FSU, Miami, and Florida) can land their fair share of talented prospects, this year was a prime example of that. Today, Florida State, Miami, and Florida were able to secure top ten recruiting classes. We will take a look at the pros and cons of each class, starting of with the Miami Hurricanes.no comments
Thoughts on Offensive line recruiting
I’ve decided to address this issue since there has been much fuss about Florida State's offensive line recruiting during the 2012 cycle. While there has been much frustration expressed amongst Nole fans, I'm not sure if Florida State's offensive line situation as a whole has been put into proper context. In my opinion it is more of an issue of developing the young linemen already on the roster and cultivating sufficient depth as opposed to any supposed recruiting failures by the staff this cycle. A lot is being made of Florida State's struggles landing offensive line commits this year. That frustration was exacerbated with the de-commitment of mammoth offensive tackle Alphonse Taylor who committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide to play on the other side of the ball as a Nose Tackle.
The reality is that the Seminoles were simply not going to land an outstanding offensive line class this cycle after having landed nine offensive line commits in 2011 (Prior to the transfer of Tackle Jordan Prestwood to Notre Dame). It is indeed rare for true freshmen to make a meaningful contribution in their first year so there simply are no 'quick fix' options available via current high school prospects to help alleviate the problems that existed along the offensive front this past season. I am of the thought that it might be more prudent to see how Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett is able to develop both the cohesiveness and overall performance of the offensive linemen who are already on the roster. That proposed development is something that can be augmented with whatever newcomers do indeed arrive. The player development aspect of the equation will be something to further evaluate as we head into spring. It would also be nice if the Noles managed to stay healthy upfront during the 2012 season as well
Florida State should bring back a minimum of twelve scholarship offensive linemen heading into spring. It is absolutely imperative in my opinion that the Noles add a minimum of three additional linemen to ensure the ability to go at least three deep at every offensive line position as they go into fall camp. With all that being said, let’s take a brief look at a few of the offensive line prospects still left on the board:
Saddleback Community College
Mission Viejo, California
Watson is a JUCO player who has played football for only a year but carries a tremendous amount of upside due to his size and his background as a basketball player. Watson proclaimed the Auburn Tigers as the leader for his services after his official visit to the 'Plains'. We're likely to get a better read of the Seminoles chances of landing Watson once he visits Tallahassee. He does plan on visiting the Oregon Ducks later in the process however, who have already landed a commitment from Watson's JUCO line mate Kyle Long.
Corona Del Sol High School
Peat reportedly struggled in Orlando during the Under Armour All Star Game practices. During the course of the game however, Peat was by far the most effective blocker on the Black team holding his own against Florida State defensive line commit Mario Edwards Jr. As most who follow recruiting would know, Peat's older brother Todd Peat Jr. is a freshman defensive tackle for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Peat has handled the recruiting process very well in my opinion, having given multiple programs a legitimate shot at landing his signature come signing day. But at this time most signs point to him joining his brother in Lincoln, Nebraska, none the least of which is the late November commitment of his teammate and cousin, Avery Moss to the Cornhuskers.
Lakeland High School
I'll go out on an Island by myself on this one: Most insiders expect Goodman to land in Tempe, Arizona with his twin brother Devin who is a freshman offensive lineman for the Sun Devils. However, reading the tea leaves on this situation I would have to believe that Evan is very much in play having initiated contact with the staff and plans of being accompanied by his family on an unofficial visit to Florida State this month that will be on his own dime. I could be wrong, but personally I'm confident that the staff has a legitimate chance to flip Goodman. We'll see
Prattville High School
Gulledge is presently committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide as defensive linemen. Apparently not much contact has been made with this prospect by the staff in recent weeks. Although Gulledge is a current teammate of Florida State defensive tackle commit Justin Shanks and 2013 OL commitment Austin Golson (6'6, 275 lbs.)no comments
Recruiting quick hitters
Davonte Neal: Cornerback
Chaparral High School
Neal is a new face to pop up on the radar of most Florida State fans but he is a well-known commodity on the recruiting trail due to his play making ability which allowed him to notch 1317 yards (On 100 carries) and 16 touchdowns rushing and 1113 yards (On 62 catches) and 14 scores receiving. A feature offensive player, Neal shined this summer in the nationally televised 7 on 7 Showcase “Gridiron Kings” as a cornerback alongside UCLA commit Marcus Rios. The Florida State staff has reportedly spoken with Neal in hopes of securing an official visit from the speedy athlete. His recruitment has been fairly quiet but Neal seemed to be a prime target of the USC Trojans before Pasadena, California cornerback Kevon Seymour committed to USC during the US Army All Star Game this past Saturday. Although he currently plays high school ball in Arizona, Neal is actually an Akron, Ohio native whose only official visit has been to Notre Dame but plans on visiting the Arkansas Razorbacks January 13th before visiting the Buckeyes January 20th. Neal has yet to determine where his January 27th official visit will be and will most likely take a fifth and final trip after national signing day so whoever secures his services will have to exercise a bit of patience. It is understood that Florida State is presently in contention for that visit. In this era of super-sized athletic wide receivers the prospect of a five foot nine cornerback would give some fans a bit of pause. Neal is the outlier in that case as he is an exciting and aggressive athlete that Florida State fans should covet in my opinion.
*Update: It appears that getting Neal on campus for a visit will be a bit more difficult than anticipated, as it appears Ohio State, Miami and perhaps both AZ schools will be getting official visits. Whether or not the coaches will spend as much energy to make this happen, with things looking increasingly better with Ronald Darby is yet to be seen.
Evan Goodman: Offensive line
Lakeland High School
Goodman is a prospect that is committed to Arizona State where his twin brother Devin is presently enrolled as a freshman and a member of the Sun Devil football team. At the moment Goodman is still committed to Arizona State presumably in large part due to his brother's presence. However, Goodman (Who incidentally has a lot of FSU fans in his family) officially visited Florida State September 16th for the Oklahoma game and has initiated further contact with the FSU staff. As it stands, Goodman will make one last trip to Tallahassee with family in tow giving the Noles one last impression to sway his commitment. Goodman would be a welcomed addition given the difficulty Florida State has had in securing offensive line commits this cycle (This has more to do with the large size of Florida State's offensive line class last recruiting cycle as much as anything else in my opinion).
Ronald Darby: Cornerback
Potomac High School
Oxen Hill Maryland
As most probably know by now, Darby was a longtime Notre Dame commit who de-committed from the Irish this past weekend. Also, Darby is a track athlete who is good friends with Florida State commit and top high school track star Marvin Bracy. With the news that top cornerback target Tracy Howard has the University of Florida and LSU both ahead of the Noles in the quest for his services, Florida State's pursuit of Darby has heated up. Darby's situation is similar to current quarterback commit Jameis Winston in the fact that he is a multi-sport athlete who most likely would have to feel equally good about the standing of both of his chosen sports at a school before giving his commitment. In other words: A school's track program would have to appeal to Darby nearly as much as its football team. Fortunately for Florida State its football and track programs are of both of high caliber. It also doesn't hurt that Darby spent the week in Orlando at the Under Armour game around his good friend Bracy, who likely reminded him several times of this fact. UF and Clemson were both thought to be major players here, but the biggest competition now appears to be Maryland, with ND still being a presence.
Reggie Northrup: Outside linebacker
First Coast High School
Northrup is a linebacker from Jacksonville's First Coast high school which has seen several recent prospects make their way west to Tallahassee to suit up for the Noles. The situation with Northrup however is a bit different due to the fact that Northrup didn't seem to be as heavily pursued as some recent top players from the Buccaneer program. This was exploited as Al Golden and the Miami Hurricanes secured an early summer commitment from the 6-2 210 pound product. Northrup however proved his mettle in the presence of the Florida State staff the very next month at the second session of the Jimbo Fisher camp as he secured a formal offer from Florida State. His stock has only risen since then as he put the finishing touches on a campaign in which he registered 165 tackles with 39 ½ going for loss, giving Leesberg(Fla) High School linebacker and Stanford commit Noor Davis legitimate competition for the unofficial title of 'best linebacker in the state' for this past season. Some Cane insiders have listed his commitment status as tenuous at the moment and Northrup appears to be looking around. Northrup has scheduled an official visit (His fifth and final) to FSU on January 20th. Now, understand that the prospects of flipping this commit have improved over the past few weeks, but it isn't quite a done deal at this point.no comments
Now that we are in the "quiet" period, we'll catch up with a few commits and targets to get an idea of where they presently stand.
Alphonse Taylor OL 6-6 340 Davidson (AL) high school
As of the time of this writing, Taylor is still de-committed to FSU. However the big offensive lineman took a visit this past weekend to Tallahassee with family to reassess things and ultimately determine his next course of action. Some are split as to Taylor's actual reasons for de-committing but the general consensus is that he would play along the defensive line for Alabama while he was only being recruited as an offensive lineman for Florida State. However, it isn’t totally clear at this time whether the Crimson Tide would even have room for Taylor in their recruiting class. Alphonse is an early enrollee candidate so hopefully this saga finds a resolution soon
Kyle Long OL 6-7 290 Saddleback Community college (Mission Viejo, California)
Long committed to the University of Oregon over the weekend. This is a development that occurred approximately a week after going on an official visit to Eugene, Oregon with his parents. The JUCO lineman who plays for Saddleback (CA) community college is only eligible to play one year of college ball but is expected to file an appeal with the NCAA in hopes of being granted an additional year.
Menelik Watson OL 6-7 312 Saddleback Community college (Mission Viejo, California)
Watson is a JUCO target for the Seminoles whose recruitment has picked steadily over the past month. He has officially visited the University of Washington and traveled to Auburn for another official visit this past weekend where he named them his leader. It would probably be best advised to wait until after Watson’s official visit to Florida State to assess the Noles chances of landing the athletic lineman.
Mario Edwards Jr. DE 6-4 280 Denton (TX) Ryan high school
Edward took a recruiting trip to the University of Texas recently. And of course, the rumors surfaced again in regards to Edwards and the standing of his commitment to the Noles. From all accounts, Edwards Jr. enjoyed the trip and was indeed photographed flashing the "Hook em" horns sign. But I trust that this was all done simply in fun as Edwards was accompanying his high school teammate, good friend and Longhorn commit Alex De La Torre on his official visit. No real concern here.
PJ Williams DB 6-1 170 Vanguard high school; Ocala, Florida
After his official visit, there were murmurs coming out of South Florida that the Canes could possibly flip Williams, who was the first pledge of Florida State's 2012 recruiting class. Now PJ had been heavily recruited by the Canes since this past summer and was very interested in the Miami program (He was accompanied on his trip by family. Always a telltale sign of legitimate interest). However shortly after the trip PJ reaffirmed his commitment to FSU. Now most insiders probably won't agree, but this may be a situation worth revisiting just to be sure.
Eddie Goldman DT 6-4 310 Friendship Academy (Washington DC)
Florida State defensive line coach Odell Haggins had an in home visit last week with the nation's number one defensive tackle. And as always, Goldman's father Eddie Muhammad had nothing but glowing things to say about Haggins. However, Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban himself had an in-home visit with Goldman just two days later. The general feeling now is that Alabama has made up significant ground with the big interior lineman from Washington DC. This feeling actually goes back to the weekend of Goldman's official visit to the University of Miami. I would still say as of now that if there was indeed a "leader" for Goldman's services it would be Florida State. But make no mistake Alabama is definitely a significant player in this recruiting battle and will be so up until National Signing Day.
Evan Goodman OG 6-4 290 Lakeland (FL) high school
Now there have been a lot of things to like about FSU's pursuit of the Arizona State commit. Goodman has already taken an official visit to Florida State and will visit Tallahassee on his own dime in January. Add to that the period of uncertainty that surrounded the Sun Devil program after the firing of head coach Dennis Erickson and a relatively long search to find a suitable replacement. Now with that being said, Goodman is still committed to Arizona State, a new coach has been hired, and Goodman's twin brother Devin is currently a freshman on the Arizona State football team. All those factors lead me to believe Goodman may be a much harder pull than some Florida State fans are led to believe.
Tracy Howard CB 5-10 175 Miramar (FL) high school
Howard himself has been largely silent during the most recent stages of his recruitment as he has been focused on his high school team’s pursuit of the state championship. During his Miramar team’s championship game loss to Plant, Howard made an interception in the first quarter and ran back to the sideline doing the “Gator Chomp” signal. While much was made of this, the fact is Howard’s mother was accompanied in the stands by about six university of Florida coaches, including head coach Will Muschamp who was seated right next to Howard’s mother, Shaiy. After the game Howard expressed that he just acknowledging the coach’s presence with the gesture. More importantly, the standout cornerback expressed a strong desire to get to know Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher better. So, while many alarmists might feel the gesture signifies Howard leaning to the gators. It would probably be best not to place too much stock in such a thing. I do however feel two things; #1 The gators are going all out in their pursuit of Howard (Which is somewhat of a change recently from what I have been told in the past few months from speaking with UF sources) and # 2 The University of Alabama has made a significant move in making a play for Howard’s commitment. Howard was initially scheduled to announce his decision in January at the US Army All Star game. However, in an interview shortly after Miramar’s state championship loss Howard confirmed that he will take visits to both LSU and Alabama after the US Army game. Those will be his third and fourth official visits. His fifth visit will come down to either USC or the University of Florida. Howard acknowledged that has already visited Florida “several times”.no comments
This game was mismatch along the line of scrimmage with the Manatee Hurricanes having the edge on both sides of the ball. The disparity in that phase of the game carried the day as First Coast's freshman sensation, De'Andre Johnson was harassed to the tune of five sacks while Manatee Junior signal caller Cord Sandberg was extremely efficient all night, completing 13 of 17 passes for 180 yards and a score through the air, and an additional 78 yards and a score on the ground leading the Hurricanes balanced attack. Manatee's offensive line was able to generate a consistent push all night against the First Coast front four, opening lanes for Hurricane backs Leon Allen and Anthony Lauro. First Coast receiver Chris Black was held to only three touches during the championship contest. However, much of that was the result of the pressure being applied by the Manatee defensive line not providing sufficient enough time for the ball to be delivered to the Buccaneer star.
Prospects to Watch in 2012
The Buccaneers lose Alabama Crimson Tide commit; Wide Receiver Chris Black and his underrated partner on the outside, University of Troy bound Brandon Brooks; who notched over 1000 yards and 13 touchdowns during his senior campaign. Returning to lead the First Coast offense will be 2015 quarterback De'Andre Johnson. Johnson (6-0 165) is already a coveted collegiate prospect who amazingly, was able to navigate the Buccaneers to a state title game appearance just a year out of middle school. The young signal caller finished the 2011 season with over 2800 yards passing and 25 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. Johnson's emergence has already landed him a verbal scholarship offer from Clemson University.