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Friday, January 16, 2009
FSU and Miami building championship-caliber recruiting classes

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

If Miami and Florida State continue to add to and develop the speed and athleticism that is already in their current recruiting classes, then look out -- both of these programs will be back in business.

Florida State had the better season in 2008, but Miami's recruiting is a step ahead. If the Canes hire the right offensive coordinator and get the kinks worked out at quarterback, then Miami is going to be one of best teams in the country in the next two or three years. If they're not, then something is wrong, because all you have to do is look at the talent they're lining up, not to mention how many young impact players like Sean Spence are already on the roster.

Miami currently has seven -- seven! -- recruits committed who are ranked among the ESPNU 150, a list of the top 150 prospects in the country, and nine players who have earned a grade of 80 or higher. If you're not familiar with ESPN's grading system, you should check it out, because there is no other evaluation like it.

Players who earn a grade of 80 or higher are deemed outstanding prospects who can contribute as true freshmen. Miami had the No. 1 recruiting class a year ago, and it panned out. This one should too, thanks to the staff's late push on the recruiting trail.

Florida State is not far behind. It has to have helped to have coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher out recruiting when other head coaches cannot. Defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel is the real deal, and the No. 1 prep tackle in the country. Back to that grading system ... McDaniel has a 91, meaning our evaluators consider him a rare prospect who "has all the skills to take over a game and could be an impact player as a true freshman." Translated -- wow.

Both of these programs have improved their recruiting in the 2008 and 2009 classes. FSU jumped from No. 25 in 2007, when it had a very average class, to No. 12 last year and is currently No. 10. Miami is currently ranked No. 7. (Don't forget, though, who had the No. 2 class a year ago -- Clemson. This is the year for Da'Quan Bowers, Kyler Parker and Jamie Harper to remind us why, although Bowers has already lived up to the hype.)

The first step in earning a top 10 ranking in the BCS standings is building a top 10 recruiting class, and that's exactly what Florida State and Miami have been doing. They're in good company with the likes of USC, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio State, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and LSU -- all programs that were in contention for the national title the past few seasons.

If Florida State and Miami are getting the same quality players, then reason stands they should have the same chance.