Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Recruit and return: Florida State
By Jared Shanker
Florida State played in the first BCS championship game. It could play in the first championship decided by a playoff, too.
Monday, they beat Auburn for the final BCS title. The Noles will go for a second straight title in 2014 and they bring back several key pieces next season, most notably quarterback Jameis Winston. They will suffer some departures from central players, but a loaded recruiting class ranked in the top five should add depth throughout the roster.
Key losses: FB Chad Abram, OC Bryan Stork, RB James Wilder Jr.*, TE Nick O’Leary*, WR Kenny Shaw, WR Kelvin Benjamin*, DE Demonte McAllister, DT Jacobbi McDaniel, DT Timmy Jernigan*, LB Christian Jones, LB Dan Hicks, LB Telvin Smith, S Terrence Brooks, DB Lamarcus Joyner, CB Gerald Demps.
Instant impact freshman: Winston was hardly harassed in the pocket this season, but when defenses did collapse on him the fleet-of-foot quarterback was able to pick up yardage with his legs. That might not be the case with Winston’s successor as the Noles have a traditional pro-style backup in Sean Maguire and 2014 commit Cameron Erving could declare for the NFL, but if he stays the Noles’ entire offensive line will be made up of seniors in 2014. Junior college tackle Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau) is the No. 8 juco recruit and second among tackles, and the belief is Mavety can start right away if Erving declares. Even if Erving stays, both of the Noles’ backup tackles are seniors and both played in every regular-season game, so Mavety will certainly see the field in 2014.
Top 2014 recruits: The top part of Florida State’s class is littered with linebackers, and the good news is the trio will have time to develop before moving into starting roles. The Noles are stocked at linebacker and have a lot of young talent moving into starting spots in 2014. So 2014 recruits Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood), Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) and Delvin Purifoy (Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola Catholic) can learn from standout linebackers Ukeme Eligwe, E.J. Levenberry and Matthew Thomas. Cosentino, an ESPN 300 quarterback, could take over Winston in 2015, and Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) is coming in as an athlete but could be given a chance as a dual-threat quarterback. Mavin Saunders (Houston/Kinkaid) is a receiver in a tight end’s body and could become an early favorite for Winston if O’Leary declares for the NFL. If Devonta Freeman leaves then Jimbo Fisher can insert No. 4 running back Dalvin Cook, the Noles' top-ranked 2014 pledge.
Questions for signing day: The biggest question is just how good this class can get for Florida State. FSU can stand to add as many as six commitments by signing day, and it is in the top group for some of the country’s elite recruits. Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover) could sign with Florida State, as could No. 1 receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian). If Florida State can’t land Dupre, a nice consolation prize would be No. 2 receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead). Lane is committed to the Gators but recently posted a picture wearing FSU gear. Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) will commit after signing day, but the No. 3 offensive tackle is high on the Noles. FSU is considered the biggest threat to Maryland for the highly touted tackle. Four-star linemen Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central), who is an ESPN 300 recruit, and Frank Ragnow (Victoria, Minn./Chanhassen) have FSU either No. 1 or right near the top, too. This could be a special class in Tallahassee.
* Underclassmen expected to declare for NFL draft.