Florida State Seminoles: Brock Ruble

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Three years ago, Jimbo Fisher was out of options. Injuries and ineffectiveness had rendered his offensive line a sieve, and as the 2011 season drew to a close, Fisher threw his hands in the air and sent four true freshmen onto the field to start Florida State’s bowl game against Notre Dame.

The last resort proved to be a stroke of genius. The group gelled and by the time the Seminoles secured the 2013 national championship, the offensive line was a strength. With five seniors projected as starters for 2014, the line promises to be the backbone of Florida State’s offense again.

[+] EnlargeRoderick Johnson
Cliff Welch/Icon SMIESPN 300 offensive tackle Roderick Johnson is the Seminoles' top-ranked offensive line signee for the 2014 class.
The problem, however, is the incredibly uncertain future after Tre' Jackson, Cameron Erving, Josue Matias and the rest of this veteran line wave goodbye.

Fisher clearly remembers the struggles of 2011, and he’s not eager to relive them again in 2015 and beyond. So while rebuilding the line is still a year away, the groundwork for that massive overhaul began in earnest Wednesday.

Florida State inked an impressive class on national signing day, reeling in 28 new Seminoles -- including five early enrollees -- and one quarter of that group is offensive linemen. It is one of the largest recruiting scores at the position in school history, Fisher said, and it’s a group with significant upside.

“We got size on the edges, in the middle and that can snap the football,” Fisher said. “From that standpoint, it’s a great group, and guys are just getting bigger and faster.”

There might not be room for the seven linemen FSU inked to get much bigger. The group already averages 6-foot-6 and 313 pounds, including juco transfers Kareem Are (6-6, 350) and Chad Mavety (6-5, 315), who Fisher believes can step in and play immediately.

Of course, finding reps for the fresh faces won’t be easy given the veterans already in place atop the depth chart, but Fisher understands it’s necessary if Florida State wants to avoid another season of linemen learning on the job in 2015.

“If those guys play well, there will be a lot of playing time,” Fisher said. “They’ll get a lot of playing time, and that’s why it was critical we got two junior college guys.”

If game-ready talent was necessary, developmental projects were significant for Florida State, too.

Fisher has racked up big recruiting wins in virtually every segment of the roster since his arrival in 2010, but the offensive line has remained a concern throughout. Part of the struggles to recruit top talent on the line lies with position coach Rick Trickett, who is far less interested in recruiting rankings than finding players malleable enough for him to build up from scratch.

Since Trickett took over the line in 2007, Florida State has signed just three offensive linemen ranked among the top 150 recruits. Jordan Prestwood left shortly after arriving. Ira Denson, last year’s prize recruit, could be on his way out, too. (Fisher said Wednesday that Denson was “still in school,” but didn’t elaborate on his status with the team.) Of FSU’s best line recruits in the Trickett era, only Bobby Hart remains embedded on the depth chart.

In fact, if Denson leaves, FSU will have just two scholarship linemen to show for its recruiting efforts in 2012 and 2013 combined and, before Wednesday’s haul, had just three linemen on the current roster set to still be with the team in 2015. Fisher praised the potential of redshirt freshman Wilson Bell and redshirt junior Ruben Carter, but there’s no doubt Wednesday’s new additions were a necessary influx of bodies.

“The guys who put their hands in the dirt on the offensive line, that controls the game,” Fisher said. “You can have all the skills in the world you want but you’ve got to win those battles up front and protect. Getting great offensive linemen is critical.”

Just how great this group ends up remains to be seen. Strong bodies with weak constitutions have a tendency to crumble under Trickett’s demanding approach. But the potential for this group is obvious.

Roderick Johnson is 6-7, 330 pounds and ranked as one of ESPN’s top prospects at tackle. FSU snagged him out of Missouri as one of Wednesday’s late additions to the class.

"Big Rod is a very athletic guy -- bends tremendously well for a guy 6-7 and 330 pounds,” Fisher said. “Great length and can bend his lower body, great flexibility and very intelligent. Very smart guy. Works very hard. I think the sky is the limit for the guy.”

Corey Martinez ranked just a tick behind Johnson as an ESPN 300 member, too. It’s the first time FSU landed multiple ESPN 300 linemen in the same class since Prestwood and Hart came aboard in 2011.

At 6-9, Brock Ruble is one of the tallest recruits in the nation, while Are and Movety were both among the top junior college linemen in the country. The Seminoles also added three-star center Alec Eberle.

Replacing the five seniors projected to start in 2014 will be no small task, but the first step in the process was providing Fisher and Trickett with some building blocks. Wednesday’s recruiting haul did that, and Fisher hopes that means there won’t be another season like 2011 on the horizon.

“Those guys will get a lot of playing time this year, and we’ll develop them,” he said. “They’ll have been able to play, and they’ll all be sophomores and juniors [in 2015] and they’ll fit in.”

ACC recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

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The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it, so too is national signing day.

ACC programs are scrambling to firm up their commitment lists and add to them as well. Here are a few top storylines for the conference:

Seminoles add more help along OL 

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Florida State quickly went from an offensive line crisis to an offensive line conundrum.

Coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff received a commitment from three-star tackle Brock Ruble (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) during a ceremony at his high school Friday. He committed to the Seminoles over offers from Maryland and NC State.

Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

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Another quiet week in the ACC for commitments, but the wheels of recruiting kept turning as more offers and important visits took place over the weekend.

Biggest offer: Florida State went across the country to issue its newest offer. Kieffer Longson (San Ramon, Calif./Dougherty Valley), a 2015 offensive tackle, looks poised to be one of his class' top linemen prospects in California. That position was further strengthened by the addition of an Ohio State offer, too. None of the in-state schools have offered, but Cal, UCLA and USC are all interested at this point.


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Recapping FSU's official visitors 

October, 28, 2013
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Florida State hosted four players on official visits this past weekend for the NC State game. Two were from the junior college ranks and have played for big programs before.

More details on each below.


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Terps turn loss into recruiting win 

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The biggest winner from the ACC this weekend might be a loser.

Maryland suffered a close defeat at home to No. 9 Clemson, but the Terrapins picked up a solid commitment from in-state 2015 offensive guard E.J. Donahue (Frederick, Md./Linganore). The three-star junior was in College Park for the game and tweeted the news.

It was important for Donahue to remain in Maryland and play for the local Terrapins.



The scouting report for the 6-foot-5, 330-pound lineman states that he could play tackle too. From the moment he steps on campus, he will bring solid size and a physical presence.


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Recruits watching NC State-Florida State 

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It is not the sexiest matchup on Florida State’s schedule. It is sandwiched by Clemson last week and Miami on Nov. 2. But the Seminoles have a litany of visitors coming to Tallahassee, Fla., for the NC State game, including the top commitment from a rival school.

Following the 51-14 prime-time drubbing of Clemson last weekend, the Seminoles’ arrow is pointing up with recruits. There will be four official visitors on campus. Here are 10 prospects who will be watching Florida State closely Saturday, whether from the seats in Doak Campbell or at home on the couch.

[+] EnlargeDalvin Cook
Tom Hauck for Student SportsDalvin Cook remains committed to Florida, but could Florida State pry him away?
RB Dalvin Cook (Miami/Miami Central): He contends he is 100 percent committed to the Gators, but Cook is making the trip north to Tallahassee for an official visit this weekend. It is the second of three official visits scheduled to locations other than Gainesville, Fla. The Gators’ offense is sputtering. On the opposite side of the spectrum are the Seminoles, who have impressed the No. 4 running back nationally with a high-powered offense led by Heisman candidate Jameis Winston. A successful visit to Florida State and another flop by Florida and Cook’s commitment to the Gators could be in question.


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ACC recruiting storylines: Oct. 24 

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The recruiting week in the ACC has centered around two states, as both Florida and Virginia programs added commitments while Miami has learned its NCAA fate.


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ASHBURN, Va. -- Offensive tackle Brock Ruble (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) has been in high demand lately.

Since the holidays, the 6-foot-9 prospect said he usually leaves school with a white trash bag full of letters. Not too shabby for a first-year starter.


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