02 February 2012
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.
Defensive line is definitely a position of strength with the Noles as that strength was fortified with the additions of Defensive ends Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher, and defensive tackles Eddie Goldman and Justin Shanks who health permitting should allow the front four to be remain a team strength for at least the next few seasons. In his time at Florida State it seems defensive coordinator Mark Stoops has a particular affinity for versatile defensive backs (Lamarcus Joyner, Terrence Brooks, Keelin Smith, and Tyler Hunter) who possess the ability to play either the cornerback or safety positions. Two of those hybrid type of players were found in Kenneth "PJ" Williams of Ocala, Florida and San Antonio, Texas athlete Colin Blake who may just end up being the find of this cycle.
Offensive line was a source of much frustration among Seminole fans this past season. However, most supporters needed to realize that problems at offensive line are much more effectively addressed via player development as opposed to a quick fix. Florida State understood this for bringing in two of the top 10 JUCO offensive linemen in powerful Swiss native Daniel Glauser and the huge but splendidly athletic Menelik Watson who originally hails from England. One of these two should be able to compete for a starting job along the offensive line while both should see significant playing time over the course of the 2012 season.
Early in the cycle wide receiver Chris Black and longtime Seminole target spurned Florida State in the summer to pledge to the Alabama Crimson Tide. While receiver was not a huge need at all for Florida State, Black had been recruited since the ninth grade by Florida State wide receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey. The primary target of offensive line coach Rick Trickett was Tempe, Arizona Offensive Tackle Andrus Peat. The Seminoles recruited Peat as effectively as could be expected considering the distance and the fact that Peat's older brother Todd Peat Jr. is a freshman defensive tackle at Nebraska. Surprisingly, Peat spurned the chance to play with his brother instead choosing to sign with the Stanford Cardinal to help round out their stellar offensive line class.
One that should have been pursued harder
While Wide Receiver wasn't a big need this cycle Florida State indeed, but would have done themselves well by landing Miami North western High School receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper is a smooth athlete who combines the size, hands, speed, body control and overall physical gifts necessary to blossom into a true #1 receiver at the BCS level. Early in the season Cooper made his commitment to the Alabama Crimson known shortly after gaining an All Star invite despite missing the almost all of his junior season due to a broken wrist. Cooper went on to score two touchdowns (one receiving TD and one punt return score) in the ESPN televised Under Armour All Star Game.
The will always be kids who commit to a team and then later find a more desirable opportunity elsewhere. This occurred on signing day with St. Petersburg, Florida defensive end Dante Fowler who choose to sign with the Florida Gators and Alphonse Taylor, who committed to play offensive line for Florida State during the summer but later opted to enroll early at Alabama University for the chance to play for the Crimson Tide's 3-4 defense at the coveted nose tackle position
Florida State was able to land the consensus number two class in the nation despite being limited on the scholarships they were able to issue. This combined with the fact that despite Dante Fowler Jr.'s signing day defection to the University of Florida, the Gators missed out on several late targets and will finish behind the Seminoles in the recruiting rankings even if they do manage to land Olney (MD) wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Miami, while landing a top ten class in the rankings, doesn't nearly have a class that replicates the overall quality of FSU's as there are only about eight of the their 33 commits who would realistically receive committable offers from Florida State. The only mistake in my estimation is that Florida State did not properly prepare itself in the event of Fowler's flipping to Florida. Something which had been rumored for a long time, came to fruition on signing day, and most likely had been in the works for a while. Indeed, offers were made to defensive ends such as Lawrenceville, Georgia (By way of England) Francis Kallon (A Georgia Tech commit for most of the 2012 cycle) and Leonard Williams of Daytona Mainland High School (Who ended up committing to USC). But the staff did not allow itself enough time to properly pursue either of the prospects due to the Florida State coaching staff reaffirming its commitment to Fowler Jr. and then Fowler Jr.'s reaffirming his pledge and subsequently flipping to Florida without giving the staff sufficient notice. Other than that, the Florida State staff flexed superior recruiting muscle for the second consecutive year in securing an elite class despite the efforts of several high profile programs attempts at poaching FSU's recruits.
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