Golden Tate, No. 11 in 2007 class
Tate came out of John Paul II in Hendersonville, Tennessee, as a gifted athlete who projected to wide receiver, but he didn’t receive the gaudy number of offers as many other Top-10 level prospects. With that said, he committed to Notre Dame over Alabama, South Carolina and Ole Miss in December of 2006 in a recruitment that was expected to go the way of the Fighting Irish as long as he made the SAT/ACT test score needed. Tate was a member of the Notre Dame 2007 class that included Jimmy Clausen, Harrison Smith, Armando Allen, and others.
Tate was a role player as a freshman for the Fighting Irish. He saw action in 12 games, making two starts. He had six receptions for 131 yards, and returned 15 kickoffs for a 21.7-yard average.
As a sophomore in 2008, Tate became one of college football’s most dangerous receivers. In 13 starts for the Fighting Irish, he caught 58 passes for 1,080 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also finished the season with 1,754 all-purpose yards and 11 total touchdowns.
Tate’s junior season would be his best in South Bend. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound playmaker had 93 catches for 1,496 yards and 15 TDs, rushed for 186 yards and two scores, and returned a punt for a TD. He totaled 1,915 all-purpose yards and 18 TDs, earning First-team All-America honors and winning the Biletnikoff Award.
Tate decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2010 NFL draft. He was selected in the second round (No. 60 overall) by the Seattle Seahawks. He was selected to the 2015 NFL Pro Bowl.
Honorable mention: Jeff Luc, No. 11 in 2010 class. Luc signed with Florida State and played sparingly for two seasons before transferring to Cincinnati. He had 134 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 2014 as a senior, placing him on the map of NFL teams headed into the 2015 NFL draft. Eli Apple, No. 11 in 2013 class, and Jalen Tabor No. 11 in 2014 class. Both cornerbacks have the look of future NFL draft prospects at Ohio State and Florida, respectively.
The Wolfpack landed four-star tailback Johnny Frasier (Princeton, N.C.), who had been committed to Florida State and hadn’t even had NC State in his top five before the 2014 season began, as the Raleigh News & Observer notes.
Frasier is a big get for Doeren on a number of levels, but the success landing in-state talent may be the biggest takeaway. As Backing the Pack writes, Frasier is the fourth four-star prospect from North Carolina that Doeren has nabbed for this recruiting class, which is a great sign for the future of the program.
For Florida State, the loss was expected, but it means that early enrollee Jacques Patrick is the lone commitment the Seminoles have at running back for 2015, writes the Orlando Sentinel.
On the flip side, three of NC State’s top-five rated commits, according to ESPN, are running backs, and that is already a big position of strength for Doeren’s crew.
In fact, the success of NC State’s ground game in 2014 was one of the most under-the-radar stories of the year. A few tidbits:
- NC State’s 5.98 yards per carry ranked 13th nationally and eighth among Power 5 teams.
- Only four Power 5 teams had a lower rate of runs that went for a loss or no gain.
- Only four Power 5 teams had a better rate of runs going for at least 5 yards, and three of those played in New Years Six bowls.
- No team in the nation had a higher success rate converting third downs on the ground (66.1 percent).
Creating a more dynamic backfield is the next step for the Wolfpack’s ground game, which garnered the bulk of its productivity on consistency between the 20s, but lacked a home-run threat or a great red-zone runner. Frasier can probably help with the former immediately, but as Tom Luginbill notes, he’ll need to develop a bit more lower-body strength before he’s ready to make an impact with the latter.
A few more links:
- Florida State’s Tre Jackson won MVP honors for the South team at the Senior Bowl, writes Tomahawk Nation.
- Miami’s Ladarius Gunter had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, writes the Miami Herald.
- Pitt offensive lineman Artie Rowell has been a terrific ambassador for the Panthers and the ACC, writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- One reason Virginia Tech will be a trendy pick in the Coastal next season is the wealth of returning starters, as the Roanoke Times notes.
- With DeVante Parker NFL bound, Louisville landed a top recruit at receiver over the weekend, writes The Courier-Journal.
- USA Today takes a look at how former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is handling his first month at SMU.
- Morris’ arrival at SMU sent one QB commit looking elsewhere, and Kyle Kearns has now landed at Wake Forest, writes the Winston-Salem Journal.
The woman who accused Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexually assaulting her in December 2012 has spoken publicly for the first time about the case.
In a new documentary film, Erica Kinsman came forward publicly with her specifics about the alleged sexual attack by Winston and allowed herself to be identified and filmed.
Her account is one of several testimonies from alleged victims of sexual abuse on college campuses to be featured as part of "The Hunting Ground," which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The paper said she decided to go public in the film, to be aired on CNN and released in theaters, to share her side of what allegedly happened between her and Winston as well as tell her story in the context of heightening awareness of rape and harassment on campuses.
ESPN generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they choose to be identified or agree to tell their story, as Kinsman did.
The sexual encounter between Winston and Kinsman happened on Dec. 7, 2012. Winston's attorney has said more than once that the sex was consensual. No charges were filed against Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner.
Earlier in January, Kinsman filed a civil lawsuit against Florida State's board of trustees, claiming FSU had knowledge of her alleged sexual harassment and discrimination by Winston, and that it created a hostile educational environment for her. The lawsuit was filed the same day Winston declared for the upcoming NFL draft.
The suit says the university had an unreasonable response to her allegations. It seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.
How talented? Florida State could be in rarefied air once the draft is completed in early May. With a nation-leading five early entrants in the draft, Florida State is on course to have at least 11 players selected.
If that happens, Florida State will have 29 players drafted over the last three years, more than any other team since the draft was cut down to seven rounds in 1994. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last school that had at least 29 players drafted over a three-year period was Texas, with 31 taken from 1982-84.
Only two programs have had 28 players taken since 2002: Miami (2002-04) and USC (2008-10).
Those Miami teams are widely regarded as among the best all-time at producing NFL talent. Of those 28 drafted, 15 went in the first round. Florida State will not come close to that first-round number, having had four first-round picks in 2013 and 2014 with a handful projected for 2015.
But there is an interesting debate to be had between this recent Florida State stretch that produced a national championship, 29 straight wins and potentially more overall picks, and the Miami stretch that produced a national championship, 34 straight wins and more first-round picks.
Is the 2001 Miami championship team head-and-shoulders above the 2013 Florida State championship team? That question is worth discussion.
What is not up for debate is where this Florida State group stands compared to its other talented teams. This three-year stretch blows any other in school history away. Until now, its most drafted three-year group was 22 from 1993-95.
It goes without saying that coach Jimbo Fisher has done a tremendous job on the recruiting trail. Not only is he signing top-flight classes, he is taken the highly skilled players in those groups and developing them into professional talents at rapid-fire rates. Fisher can boast that better than just about anyone.
Here is a look at the recent three-year stretches Florida State, Miami and USC have put together in the NFL draft:
2002 draftees: 11
First round: Five -- Bryant McKinnie, Jeremy Shockey, Phillip Buchanon, Ed Reed, Mike Rumph
2003 draftees: Eight
First round: Four -- Andre Johnson, Jerome McDougle, Willis McGahee, William Joseph
2004 draftees: Nine
First round: Six -- Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams, Vernon Carey, Vince Wilfork
2008 draftees: 10
First round: Four -- Sedrick Ellis, Keith Rivers, Sam Baker, Lawrence Jackson
2009 draftees: 11
First round: Three -- Mark Sanchez, Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews
2010 draftees: Seven
First round: None
FLORIDA STATE, 2013-15
2013 draftees: 11
First round: Three -- EJ Manuel, Bjoern Werner, Xavier Rhodes
2014 draftees: Seven
First round: One -- Kelvin Benjamin.
2015 draftees: TBD
Most likely to be drafted: Jameis Winston, Eddie Goldman, P.J. Williams, Mario Edwards Jr., Ronald Darby, Cameron Erving, Josue Matias, Karlos Williams, Rashad Greene, Nick O'Leary, Tre' Jackson
To see the full list, click here.
1. James Conner, Pittsburgh
Position: Running back
Tough to go with anybody else at No. 1 after watching Conner bulldoze the competition en route to ACC Offensive Player of the Year and ACC Player of the Year honors. And, well, it is not every day that Tony Dorsett's long-standing school records are shattered. Conner led the league in rushing yards (1,765), rushing touchdowns (26), rushing yards per game (135.8) and scoring (156 points). His touchdown and scoring totals broke the Pitt single-season records Dorsett set in 1976. Conner had three 200-yard games and seven 100-yard games, often taking multiple defenders on his back along for a ride. He was downright dominant, and in a year of powerful backs, he deserves the No. 1 spot.
2. Jameis Winston, Florida State
Year: Redshirt sophomore
If there is one player on this list you would take with the game on the line, it would be Winston. But this list is an evaluation of the top performances week in and week out, and Winston was simply not consistent enough to merit the top spot this year. He made too many mistakes, whether he was trying too hard with an inexperienced receiving corps or just making the wrong decisions. But those mistakes do not diminish the fact that Winston remains one of the best (and most dangerous) players in the nation. Winston ended the season with an ACC-leading 3,907 yards passing, 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, all down from a year ago. But he did lead Florida State to a third straight ACC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
3. Vic Beasley, Clemson
Position: Defensive end
Beasley returned to school for his senior season and was even better -- despite facing more double- and triple-teams than at any point in his career. He won ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors and was a finalist for the Bednarik and Lombardi awards after racking up a team-high 21.5 tackles for loss, a team-high 12 sacks, nine quarterback pressures, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Nobody in the ACC was better off the edge than Beasley, and he was a nightmare for many teams to block.
4. Duke Johnson, Miami
Position: Running back
Johnson had the best season of his career because he was able to stay healthy and play all 13 games, finishing second behind Conner in the ACC in rushing with 1,652 yards. But Johnson led the league in all-purpose yards with 2,073, emerging as a much bigger pass-catching threat out of the backfield. When the season ended, he stood above all the other Miami greats on the career rushing and all-purpose yards lists. But maybe most impressive of all, he averaged 7.4 yards every time he touched the ball.
5. Gerod Holliman, Louisville
Year: Redshirt sophomore
There were plenty of questions about the Louisville secondary heading into the season, following the loss of Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor, two of the best players on the 2013 defense. But Holliman stepped right into the starting lineup and made an immediate impact in Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme, using his athleticism to make plays all over the field. When it was over, Holliman had tied an NCAA record with 14 interceptions and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in college football.
Jameis Winston, No. 14 in 2012 class
Winston came out of Hueytown High in Alabama as a highly coveted quarterback by the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Stanford, UCLA and many others. He signed with Florida State due in large part to a strong bond with lead recruiter and then-Seminoles assistant Dameyune Craig over home-state Alabama. Winston was part of a Florida State top-5 class that included Mario Edwards Jr., Eddie Goldman, P.J. Williams, Ronald Darby and Roberto Aguayo, among others.
After redshirting in 2012, Winston won the starting job over current Alabama backup Jacob Coker. He then put together one of the very best freshman seasons in history, leading Florida State to the BCS National Championship and a perfect 14-0 record. After passing for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns against 10 interceptions, Winston racked up the honors: 2013 Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Award, Manning Award, Archie Griffin Award, AP Player of the Year, consensus All-American and first-team All-ACC. Winston also doubled as a baseball player for the Seminoles as a right fielder and relief pitcher.
As a third-year sophomore, the numbers took a dip but the wins continued. Florida State finished the regular season undefeated before losing to Oregon in the first-ever College Football Playoff semifinals. Winston finished the season with 3,907 passing yards and 25 TDs to go with 18 INTs. Winston was named All-ACC first-team for a second time following the season.
Winston finished his two years as a starter with a 27-1 record. He passed for 7,964 yards and 65 TDs with 28 interceptions.
Following the season, Winston chose to forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL draft. He is a first-round projection, and that includes the possibility of going No. 1 overall.
Honorable mention: Devon Kennard, No. 14 in 2009 class. Kennard picked USC out of Desert Vista High in Phoenix, Arizona, over offers from many of the nation's best. He played defensive end and linebacker for the Trojans before being drafted in the fifth round, No. 174 overall, by the New York Giants. Jalen Ramsey, No. 14 in 2013 class, is a first-team All-ACC and second-team All-American defensive back for Florida State. He is expected to be highly drafted in the 2016 or 2017 NFL draft.
Among those drawing the most praise: Duke teammates Jamison Crowder and Laken Tomlinson, Pitt offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings, Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony and all four Miami players represented: tight end Clive Walford, receiver Phillip Dorsett, linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Ladarius Gunter. Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl, tweeted out practice award winners for the week Friday morning. Tomlinson, Anthony and Dorsett were honored.
ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay wrote this week that Dorsett's stock is on the rise, and he helped himself more than any other prospect during the week. His track speed has wowed scouts across the board. As McShay writes:
What stands out with Dorsett is that he has under-control speed. Some guys are burners in a straight line but can't gear down or get in and out of breaks under control enough to catch the ball. That isn't the case with Dorsett, who possesses every quality you want in a deep speed threat.
During the East-West Shrine game last week, former Miami defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo also turned heads. In all, five Miami players have made headlines in the last week for their play, leaving many once again to wonder how the Canes went 6-7 with so much talent. Add in running back Duke Johnson and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, and the potential exists for at least seven players off this team to get drafted.
Dorsett told ESPN.com Miami Dolphins reporter James Walker, “A lot of things didn’t go our way last year. I can say that,” Dorsett said. “A lot of things went the wrong way. We just got to get guys to really buy in. It’s not on the coaches, it’s on the players. Coaches coach and players got to go out there and play. That’s all I can really say about it.”
Earlier in the week, NFL Network expert Mike Mayock said Tomlinson and Crowder were the players of the day. The Chicago Sun-Times had a good profile detailing the friendship between Tomlinson and high school teammate Louis Trinca-Pasat, both at the Senior Bowl.
Two more who also have had a good week: Al.com notes Lorenzo Mauldin of Louisville made an impression, and Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett has made some plays despite his size being scrutinized.
Charles Davis of NFL Network said of Stephone Anthony, "He's a big-time player. Not many people around the country know enough about him."
Elsewhere around the ACC:
- Boston College offensive coordinator Ryan Day has been hired as the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterbacks coach.
- Florida State has reportedly hired former Florida assistant Brad Lawing to replace departed defensive line coach Sal Sunseri, who is off to the Raiders.
- Louisville will host six players on official visits this weekend.
- Two former North Carolina student-athletes, including football player Devon Ramsey, have sued the university and NCAA over the long-running academic fraud scandal that involved the athletic department.
- NC State coach Dave Doeren discusses the progress his program has made since he arrived.
- Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi picked up his third commitment in two days.
- Virginia Tech unveiled its plans to cover cost of attendance with the Pylons of Promise.
There are less than two weeks until national signing day, and five-star defensive end Byron Cowart is closing on his college decision. The No. 1-ranked player in the ESPN 300 had a top three of Auburn, Florida, and Florida State just last week, and now the 6-foot-3, 258-pound defensive end has dwindled his choices to two.
"I would have to say, just to be honest, Auburn and Florida are my top two schools," Cowart said. "I have to keep it professional -- I have to. Who knows, you see coaches and they go into the league, and when it’s time for you to get drafted you don’t want to have a bad name.
"A lot of guys say things that they back away from, and yeah I probably said 'yeah I like this school and I might end up coming here' but that’s probably how I was feeling at the time, but a lot of things happen and I just want people to know that I’m man enough to say 'thank you for recruiting me, but I might not go to your school.' But right now, truly, it will come down to Auburn and Florida. That’s just being honest."
That is somewhat of a surprise considering FSU coaches visited Cowart at his school on Wednesday afternoon and Cowart was scheduled to take his last visit to Florida State next weekend.
"The visit was good. It was different," Cowart said. "I haven’t had the heat put to me like that before. It’s crunch time, so they want me to come up for this last visit, but it’s like I already know what they can bring to the table, I already know what I can I get from Florida State the school. It’s just crazy, I just want to relax and get away, think and get my thoughts together, and that’s why I was like 'I don’t know if I’m going to do my last visit -- I don’t know if I’m going to go anywhere on my last visit.'
"I don’t want to make a mistake. Like my mom said, when you are rushing and you’re moving too fast sometimes you can make a mistake and go somewhere that you never even thought you would go. So I want to be in the right mind and be focused, and to know that this is the school I want to go to."
On the field, few teams had to scale steeper second-half inclines than Florida State and none had the potential history on the line the way the Seminoles did. It began with a near-upset defeat in the August opener, and by the end of September it was clear any loss would put Florida State on the College Football Playoff periphery and end an opportunity for back-to-back national championships.
"During the whole season, we would put ourselves in difficult binds that we always fought our way out of," departing defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said after the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. "My dad would always say, 'It only catches up with you when it catches up with you.' Tonight is one of those nights where I think we let the points add up too much."
The pressure can only build for so long before it finds an outlet, but the result should not overshadow a season unlike any other. For three months, Florida State dug its feet in and refused to give ground during a white-knuckle season. The Seminoles trailed nine times during the first 13 games, sometimes by as many as three scores.
There were times the offense was punchless and others when the defense was toothless, but the adversity fostered an inverse relationship. When one unit wasn't clicking, the other raised its game. There was luck too -- ricocheted touchdowns and goal-line penalties -- but few teams were better suited to take advantage.
The burden of a second undefeated season only grew heavier with the selection committee's rankings. The Seminoles nearly slipped out of the top four until, for the first time all season, they moved up to No. 3 -- in the final rankings. The Seminoles had fallen from No. 2 to No. 4, behind three one-loss teams, less than a week before the final rankings. Chair Jeff Long said the committee was not in the business of making statements, but the message was clear: Florida State had little room for error.
The pressure was felt in the locker room, which Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher admitted at the end of the regular season. Yet it never had an adverse effect in the win column. Their 13 wins to start the season extended their streak to 29 in a row, the fourth-longest streak since the 1968 season.
"It was a great run," Fisher said at the Rose Bowl. "What our guys accomplished and what they've been able to play and do and the quality of games in which they've been able to play in, it was an extremely great run."
Now the 2015 Seminoles face an entirely new kind of adversity. For the first time since 2012, Florida State is responding to a loss. Next year's starting 22 might feature just four players (with three starts among them) who played an active part of that 2012 team.
"Hopefully," Fisher said after the Rose Bowl loss, "we can put together another [streak]."
While the Super Bowl pits two quarterbacks who were both MLB draft picks, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady aren't the only signal callers who thrived in multiple sports . The potential No. 1 pick in this year's NFL draft, Jameis Winston, was also a baseball star for the Seminoles. And in the high school ranks, the nation's top-rated quarterback, Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray, could be an early-round MLB draft pick even though most expect him to play football in college.
Here's a look at six high school and college quarterbacks who have also excelled on the diamond:
6. Rashad Greene, Florida State
There’s never been any question about Greene’s talent, but in 2014 he firmly established himself as one of the great leaders in FSU history. Surrounded by an inexperienced group of receivers, Greene stepped up to become one of the most consistent targets in the nation and caught 99 passes for 1,365 yards -- with numerous game-changing plays along the way. His 74-yard touchdown against Clemson preserved FSU’s win streak, and he finished with double-digit receptions in three games and topped 100 yards receiving eight times. Greene wrapped up his career as FSU’s leading receiver in each of his four seasons.
7. Grady Jarrett, Clemson
Position: Defensive tackle
Jarrett was the vocal leader of Clemson’s dynamic defensive front, and few tackles in the country made a bigger impact on a week-to-week basis than he did. His 45 tackles paced all Clemson defensive linemen, and his 10 tackles for loss were the most by an ACC interior lineman. Jarrett was a key cog in the nation’s fifth-ranked rushing defense, and he helped solidify the middle for a unit that racked up 254 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.
8. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
Entering the season, fans were beginning to wonder if Paul Johnson’s option offense had run its course at Georgia Tech. Then Thomas was added to the fray, and everything changed. The sophomore proved a perfect fit for Johnson’s scheme and threw for 1,719 yards and 18 touchdowns while becoming just the second Tech QB in the past decade to top 1,000 yards on the ground. Thomas is one of just 13 Power 5 QBs in the past decade to top both benchmarks in a single season. Thomas helped Georgia Tech become the nation’s most prolific rushing offense and led the Yellow Jackets to an 11-3 season, a Coastal Division title and a win in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
9. DeVante Parker, Louisville
How do you make a case for a player who missed the first seven games of the year to rank in the top 10? With Parker, it’s actually pretty easy. A foot injury during fall camp sidelined Parker early, but the Cardinals’ receiver debuted Oct. 18 against NC State with nine catches for 132 yards, and he never slowed down. In his six games this season, he topped 120 yards five times, including a 214-yard performance against Florida State. Despite missing half the season, Parker finished seventh in the ACC in receiving yards, and among Power 5 receivers with at least 40 catches, none averaged more yards per reception than Parker, at 19.9.
10. Jamison Crowder, Duke
Crowder finished with 1,000 receiving yards for the third straight season, after turning in his fourth 100-yard game of the year in Duke’s bowl game against Arizona State. One of the ACC’s most consistent receiving threats in each of the past three seasons, Crowder was an all-purpose star who finished third in the ACC in receiving yards, second in receptions, first in punt-return yardage and sixth in all-purpose yards. Also, he was the only ACC player with multiple special-teams touchdowns this season.