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Fisher has turned recruiting success to NFL success

4/30/2015

Florida State could end up setting more NFL draft records this weekend with potentially 29 players selected over the past three years.

Ask Jimbo Fisher whether he envisioned that type of success when he was elevated to head coach and he shakes his head.

"You'd like to say you would, but you didn't know," Fisher said recently. "I knew we could get good players, and I knew we knew how to develop them. I didn't know if we could get that many. That's a tribute to our coaches, our assistant coaches, the atmosphere and environment at Florida State, and to showing these kids we're willing to do whatever we have to do to help you go where you've got to go as a person, as a student [and] as a player."

What has been truly remarkable about this run is the way Florida State has taken top-tier recruiting classes and developed those players into NFL talent. Recruiting classes mean nothing without player development. Let's take a look at the class of 2011 as an example. That year, Florida State had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.

Four players have already been drafted from that group -- Timmy Jernigan (second round), Kelvin Benjamin (first round), Devonta Freeman (fourth round) and Tank Carradine (second round). Up to six more will be drafted this weekend -- Karlos Williams, Nick O’Leary, Bobby Hart, Rashad Greene, Josue Matias and Tre Jackson. Six others remain on the roster, including starters Tyler Hunter, Terrance Smith, Nile Lawrence-Stample and Derrick Mitchell.

Now let's take a look at Texas for a comparison. The Longhorns had the No. 5 recruiting class in 2011. Nobody from that class has been drafted yet. Quandre Diggs is the highest-rated Texas draft prospect from that class, ranked No. 141 among all players. So you can see why the Longhorns have stumbled. Player development has simply not been there the way it has been in Tallahassee.

Watch for the Florida State Class of 2012 next. That group, rated No. 2 in the country, has sure-fire 2015 draft picks Jameis Winston, Mario Edwards, Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams. Sean Maguire and Roberto Aguayo also signed in that class. Menelik Watson was already drafted from the group, in the second round in 2013.

"You don't think of it that way," Fisher said, referring to all the draft success. "Just get these guys, develop them and do what's best. Sometimes when you're doing your job, you're driving down the road with blinders. You don't really realize what's being accomplished. Hopefully, it's just the beginning, and we can continue it."