Florida State Seminoles: J.J. Cosentino

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 26, 2014
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Sports on Earth put together a list of its 10 players under the most pressure as 2014 gets set to kick off, and the lone ACC representative is Virginia Tech’s Trey Edmunds. On the sophomore tailback:
“With [Logan] Thomas' mobility gone, the onus on the running backs is even greater to jumpstart an aimless offense that has coincided with a 15-11 record the last two years.”

Indeed, Virginia Tech needs some serious help on offense in virtually every phase, but finding some traction on the ground would be a huge first step.

Last year, Thomas, the quarterback, was responsible for 33 percent of Virginia Tech’s carries, 22 percent of its rushing yards (including lost yardage on sacks) and 45 percent of its third- and fourth-down conversions on the ground. The tailbacks, meanwhile, averaged just 3.98 yards per carry, second-worst in the ACC (ahead of only Wake Forest) and well behind the next worst team (NC State). For perspective, conference champ Florida State got a whopping 6.43 yards per carry from its running backs -- nearly 2.5 yards more every time a running back carried the football.

Edmunds, of course, is the face of the group after leading the way for Virginia Tech with 675 yards on the ground before getting hurt against Virginia, but his 4.07 yards-per-carry average ranked 31st among ACC players last year.

It’s tough to pin all the pressure on Edmunds, though. Other tailbacks need to step up, too. Virginia Tech needs to find a quarterback capable of keeping defenses honest. Receivers need to be more reliable to keep the Hokies out of unmanageable down-and-distance situations. Coordinator Scot Loeffler needs to be more creative with his scheme. And if anything, the real pressure here falls on Frank Beamer, who is on his second coordinator and has cycled through myriad running backs and still hasn’t found a definitive answer to Tech’s offensive woes.

Though Edmunds is the lone ACC rep on Sports On Earth’s list, it’s also worth noting the conference should shine a little extra light on their No. 1 choice, Jeff Driskel. Not only will the Florida quarterback’s season be defined by how the Gators’ offense performs, but two other quarterbacks who were stuck behind him on the depth chart -- Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy -- now have starting jobs in the ACC and could certainly upstage their former teammate.

More links, starting with a bunch of Jameis Winston news:
  • If Winston’s legend began when he chucked a football over a fraternity house, FSU’s newest quarterback, J.J. Cosentino, is well on his way to carving out his own mythology, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.
  • Tomahawk Nation ran the numbers on what it would mean for Winston to stick around at FSU through 2015, and it’s tough to make the case that he should.
  • And in Winston’s hometown of Hueytown, Ala., July 5 will officially be “Jameis Winston Day,” writes Yahoo.
  • Louisville has sold out its luxury boxes for its inaugural season in the ACC, so if you’re planning to attend a game, you’ll be stuck with the commoners.
  • With Jay Bromley gone, Syracuse is reshuffling its defensive line in hopes of finding some stability, writes Syracuse.com.
  • Backing the Pack did the research and came up with a rough estimate of the number of alumni each ACC school has playing in the NFL now. Not surprisingly, the results pretty accurately reflect the typical ACC recruiting rankings, too.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In the past two seasons, Florida State has punted 91 times in 28 games. Nationally, only Navy has employed its punter less often since the start of 2012, which is why it’s understandable that the Seminoles’ most glaring weakness has largely flown beneath the radar.

In fact, as Florida State prepared for the national championship game last season, confident fans routinely chalked up the punting game as perhaps the only area where Auburn held a distinct advantage, and how much could punting matter in a game like that anyway?

Of course, the Tigers proved a bit more difficult an opponent than those projections assumed, and as fate would have it, punting mattered a lot.

Had Kermit Whitfield not returned a fourth-quarter kickoff for a score, had Jameis Winston not rallied his troops on the final drive, had Kelvin Benjamin not snagged the game-winning touchdown with just seconds to spare, the one area of Florida State’s championship team that wasn’t talked about all season -- the punting -- might have been the single biggest reason the Seminoles came up short in Pasadena.

With FSU ahead 3-0 in the first quarter, Auburn's Steven Clark came on to punt, booming a kick that the Auburn coverage team downed at the 2. The Seminoles went nowhere on the ensuing drive, and Cason Beatty’s resulting punt was a line drive that Auburn's Chris Davis returned 22 yards to the FSU 22. Auburn took advantage of the field position for a touchdown that started a 21-0 run.

In the game, Clark punted six times. Five were downed inside the 20, none resulted in a return by Florida State. Beatty, meanwhile, punted six times as well. Only one was downed inside the 20.



In the end, punting didn’t cost FSU a national championship, and as the Seminoles get set to open spring practice in 2014, Beatty’s performance is again likely to fade into the background as bigger concerns on offense and defense grab the headlines. And, again, Jimbo Fisher has no obvious alternatives to his two-year incumbent punter in spite of a now-substantive track record of struggles. But as the quest to replace Timmy Jernigan or develop young receivers takes center stage, it's worth keeping an eye on how tied Fisher remains to Beatty and whether the Seminoles might start looking at giving some work to a walk-on.

On national signing day, Fisher was asked about the punting potential of quarterback recruit J.J. Cosentino, who has a big leg to go with his strong arm. Fisher didn’t laugh off the idea, and while it’s unlikely Cosentino’s redshirt would be burned for punting purposes, it’s a telling statement that fans -- let alone Fisher -- would even consider it.

So why should punting be a focus for Florida State in 2014? The numbers are gruesome.

First, in Beatty’s first two seasons as the Seminoles' punter, FSU has averaged 38.9 yards, which is the worst in the ACC and seventh-worst among AQ teams.

But more than simply the short kicks, FSU has looked awful trying to cover Beatty’s boots. Despite fielding a punt coverage unit with as many standout athletes as any team in the nation -- including several veterans -- Florida State allows 14.7 yards per punt return behind Beatty, the fourth-worst average in the nation. The Seminoles are netting just 35.3 yards per punt during Beatty’s tenure, easily the worst by any BCS-qualifying schools. (It's perhaps worth noting that Alabama leads the country in punting and net punting, while also averaging the fifth fewest punts per game.)

Two numbers have kept the Seminoles' punting shortcomings from being a serious issue -- first, FSU has punted so rarely; and second, that a relatively low percentage of Beatty’s (usually short) punts have been returned (24 percent, 20th nationally). But, as Florida State saw in both the NC State game in 2012 and the national championship game in January, a few bad kicks can dramatically change the outcome of a game and, in turn, the outcome of a season.

Beatty did show some improvement as a sophomore, adding roughly 3 yards per punt to his average, but at the same time, FSU’s coverage team surrendered nearly 7 more yards per return. In other words, the added distance on punts likely came at the expense of hang time. Meanwhile, just 28.5 percent of his punts were downed inside the 20 -- nearly half the rate he enjoyed in 2012.

Beatty’s struggles were a minor blemish on an otherwise sterling season in 2013, but the schedule gets tougher this season, and it’s unlikely Florida State will win all its games by an average of 40 points again. And, as last year’s national title game proved, it doesn’t take a season’s worth of bad punts to torpedo a team’s goals. Sometimes, it can come down to one bad kick.

FSU room to improve: Special teams

February, 14, 2014
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The celebration of a BCS championship victory is in the rearview mirror for Florida State, and Jimbo Fisher, Jameis Winston and Co. have already turned their attention toward adding another trophy in 2014. So as Florida State preps for spring practice, we’re digging into the biggest questions, position battles and storylines facing the defending national champs.

This week, we’ll look at the five position groups with the biggest question marks looming in advance of spring practice.

Previously, we reviewed the defensive line, running backs, linebackers and wide receivers.

Last up: Special teams

Projected starters: Roberto Aguayo (K/RS So.), Cason Beatty (P/Jr.), Kermit Whitfield (KR/So.), Jesus Wilson (PR/So.)

[+] EnlargeRoberto Aguayo
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State kicker Roberto Aguayo was nearly perfect on field goals (21 of 22), converted on all 94 PATs and could force touchbacks with his kickoffs.
Special teams are something of a broad category, and in several areas, Florida State was a monster in 2013. Whitfield was a revelation in the kick return game, racking up 36.4 yards per return, including two touchdowns. Aguayo was just as impressive in his first year as the team’s kicker, connecting on 21 of 22 field goals. But in other areas, there was an obvious shortcoming. Kenny Shaw handled the bulk of punt return duties, and while he was consistent, he was rarely great. He averaged 9.7 yards per return -- down about 5 yards from the team’s average in 2012. Meanwhile, Beatty continued to struggle in his second year as the team’s punter, finishing last in the ACC in net punting (35.4 yards/punt) in 2013, with his struggles particularly exposed in the BCS title game.

Strength in numbers: Karlos Williams (Sr.), Ryan Green (So.), Rashad Greene (Sr.)

Williams was a fixture in the kick return game throughout the past three seasons, but with his new role as the starting tailback (and only RB with much experience), it remains a question how much Fisher will utilize him on special teams. Greene was a playmaker as a punt returner in 2012 but muffs forced him to the bench. With Shaw gone, he could get another look this year. While there’s a plethora of speed throughout FSU’s roster that could find a role in the return game, Green is among the top options among the younger players.

New on the scene: Ja'Von Harrison (Fr.), Trey Marshall (Fr.)

Fisher’s focus on recruiting speed at the skill positions means there are plenty of options in the return game both on the current roster and among the new faces inked in the Class of 2014. Harrison and Marshall are among the top choices and both figure to get a look on scrimmage downs and coverage teams as well, adding some incentive to forego a redshirt.

What to watch: The battle to replace Shaw as punt returner should make for some interesting battles both in spring and fall camp, but Florida State has so much talent on the roster that the options are plentiful. The bigger question is how much Fisher will rely on veterans in those jobs -- particularly Williams and Greene -- given their significant roles on scrimmage downs. The one area where Florida State has a real concern and, likely, no clear alternative on special teams is at punter, where Beatty showed only minimal improvement in his second full year as the starter. It’s possible Fisher could give a look to a walk-on, and he at least gave some lip service to QB J.J. Cosentino's history punting (a highly unlikely scenario for myriad reasons), but odds are it’s Beatty’s job still, regardless of his previous struggles. In 2013, the punting woes were easily overcome by an avalanche of blowout wins (FSU averaged 3.0 punts per game, fewest in the nation), but as the schedule improves in 2014, that’s a luxury the Seminoles can’t assume they’ll have again this season.
It was an off-hand comment from Jimbo Fisher on national signing day that first drew the attention of Florida State fans, but Jameis Winston added validity to the notion on Thursday, saying he planned to play two more years in Tallahassee before heading to the NFL.

The plan comes as a surprise to many outsiders, given Winston’s status as a likely first round pick in the 2015 draft -- and, perhaps, the first selection overall. But for Winston, it’s not entirely unreasonable.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesIf Jameis Winston sticks to his plan to play two more years at FSU, the ramification could be far-reaching.
The Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t mind going against conventional wisdom, with his return to the baseball team this spring providing the perfect context. Since his recruitment, Winston has insisted he wants to be a two-sport star, playing both football and baseball professionally before his career is over. That’s part of what brought him to Florida State in the first place. After his exceptional 2013 football season, it seemed reasonable he’d shift his focus entirely toward football and avoid the risk of injury on the baseball field. For Winston, however, that was never a consideration.

Winston will take a similar approach toward his decision regarding the NFL draft. Baseball remains a priority for him, and if staying through the 2015 football season allows him to continue to develop on the diamond, it’s entirely possible he’ll stick around. And for now, that appears to be the plan.

But what would it mean for FSU to have Winston in garnet and gold for an extra year? A few key points to keep in mind:

The depth chart

If Winston planned to leave for the NFL as soon as he’s eligible, that would’ve meant a chance for Jacob Coker to start for Florida State in 2015, but clearly that possibility wasn’t enough to keep him in Tallahassee. Coker plans to transfer to Alabama at the end of this semester, and given Winston’s plans to stick around for two more years, Fisher understood Coker’s rationale.

"He wants to graduate and he wants to play. He's got two years left and he's a year behind Jameis. Could he battle again? Yes. But I understand,” Fisher said. “I’m very supportive of it. I think the guy is a good player. I think he's going to be a good quarterback and we had a great conversation about it.”

Should Winston stay, it also makes FSU’s one-quarterback haul on signing day a little easier to tolerate. Treon Harris, a longtime FSU commit, flipped to Florida on Wednesday, leaving J.J. Cosentino as Florida State’s lone QB signing. That might be a concern if Winston departs following the 2014 season, but another year for the Heisman winner allows FSU to pad its QB depth with next year’s recruiting class, too.

While Sean Maguire likely will be the No. 2 for Florida State in 2014 and 2015, Cosentino also gets an extra year to develop his skills, too, and Fisher said the QB from Western Pennsylvania has ample upside when his time finally arrives.

The recruiting buzz

Winston’s plans to stay through 2015 actually might have hurt Florida State’s hopes of inking two quarterbacks in this year’s signing class, but just the notion that the star QB will be in Tallahassee for two more seasons is certainly a big selling point for other offensive talent.

FSU already inked three top receivers this year in Ermon Lane, Travis Rudolph and Ja'Von Harrison, along with highly touted running back Dalvin Cook. The opportunity to spend two years playing with Winston was certainly alluring.

But even the notion that Winston might be back for 2015 provides Fisher with another selling point on the recruiting trail this coming year. If Class of 2015 recruits believe he’ll be around for their freshman season, it’s one more reason to think FSU is a great landing spot.

“I also think getting them here and getting them to play with him is tremendous, especially when we have a need at that position,” Fisher said of his wide receiver recruiting. “Those guys have a chance to make an impact and be able to play with him.”

The 2015 season

Winston’s return for his redshirt junior campaign would mean a lot to a Florida State offense that figures to endure a massive overhaul in 2015. Of the 10 other projected offensive starters this season, as many as nine figure to be gone in 2015, including the entirety of the offensive line.

That’s perhaps a reason for Winston to reconsider his plan moving forward. While his talent and football acumen certainly won’t diminish with an extra year in college, the risk of injury is a real concern, and with five new starters on the offensive line in 2015, the potential for an injury diminishing his draft stock becomes all the more likely.

But if Winston does come back in 2015, it allows for some stability for an offense that will be saying goodbye to Rashad Greene, Nick O'Leary and Karlos Williams, among others.

The reality

The problem with all this supposition about Winston’s future is that he’s still 11 months away from having to commit to any definitive decision, and a lot can happen in that time. While Winston might be completely sincere in his plan to stay through 2015 now, the lure of first round money in the NFL and the risk of spending another year playing two sports in college could certainly change his mind. If he does, FSU is still in good shape with Maguire and Cosentino. If he doesn't, the Seminoles fans get an extra year with a once-in-a-lifetime player.

At this point, there’s no reason for Winston to offer any possibility other than his stated commitment to remain at Florida State. But what Winston and Fisher believe today doesn’t matter all that much. If his plans haven’t changed by January 2015, however, it’s an enormous boon for Florida State.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The words were likely the same as the ones spoken by every other coach in the country, Jimbo Fisher was quick to admit Wednesday, but that didn’t make them any less true.

[+] EnlargeErmon Lane
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsErmon Lane, the No. 2 WR in the nation and No. 22 prospect overall, was a nice late addition for FSU.
Florida State’s 2014 signing class had a little bit of everything, and that made it easy to love. There were the high-profile stars, including receiver Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) and defensive end Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page). There were the late additions, from receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Senior) to tackle Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central). There was strength in numbers, including huge hauls on both sides of the line, and there were unique talents such as defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee), who Fisher raved might be one of the five best players in the country.

The Seminoles inked at least one player in every position group -- and a long snapper to boot -- with Fisher heaping praise on each one.

“The first thing is you need the ingredients to bake the cake,” Fisher said. “We have the ingredients.”

The class wasn’t the most high-profile. While Florida State did nab 13 ESPN 300 prospects and two more top junior-college transfers, it didn’t rack up a heaping quantity of five-star studs like Alabama did. The Seminoles grabbed some prized late additions, too, but also lost QB Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) and defensive lineman Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda), both longtime commits. But it was the grunt work on players such as Christmas that had Fisher so excited about the future Wednesday.

“If Christmas would have gone to [more] camps, he would be been the No. 1 or 2 player in the whole country,” Fisher said. “Everybody we asked, the first guy to come out of their mouth was [Christmas]. ‘That's the best football player we've played against in 10 years.’ Everybody. I never had so many coaches tell me he was the best player. Even coaches from Miami and the players in Miami. When guys in Miami give you credit, they don't give nobody credit.”

The same was true at quarterback, where Fisher spent his time raving about J.J. Cosentino (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic) rather than lament the loss of Harris. The 6-foot-4 QB from western Pennsylvania could wind up the heir apparent to Jameis Winston in a year -- or two years, as Fisher optimistically projected Wednesday -- and might already have the best arm of anyone on Florida State’s roster.

Highly touted running back Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) is already enrolled, but Fisher raved Wednesday about the versatility of three-star prospect Jonathan Vickers (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian). Rudolph and Lane were two of the top six receivers in the nation, but Fisher heaped praise on Ja'Von Harrison (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen), too.

“He has a ton of juice,” Fisher said. “He can accelerate. He can make you miss. He can punt return, play defense, blocks very well. He has great length, size. I think Ja’Von has a big-time future.”

Florida State wrapped up the day with the No. 3 class in the country, the fifth time in as many years Fisher has nabbed a top-10 class. But Fisher wasn’t concerned with the final ranking.

“There's not a guy in here, even from a size standpoint, I don’t think will have a great future,” Fisher said. “Tremendous."

ESPN 300 QB flips from FSU to UF

February, 5, 2014
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Florida State was the beneficiary of most of the flipping from Florida recruits among the Big Three in-state schools, but the Gators pushed back some on signing day.

ESPN 300 prospect Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington), ranked No. 7 among dual-threat quarterbacks nationally, signed with Florida on Wednesday. He had been committed to Florida State since July.

[+] EnlargeTreon Harris
John Albright/Icon SMIESPN 300 QB Treon Harris could contribute at a number of positions for the Gators.
Earlier in the morning, ESPN 300 athlete J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) stuck with Florida over FSU and Miami.

The Gators already had a 2014 quarterback in Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School), but the 5-foot-11, 186-pound Harris gives Will Muschamp a litany of options in Gainesville. Harris could get a chance at quarterback, but he could also ultimately end up at receiver or cornerback.

Harris, No. 163 in the ESPN 300, has legitimate 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, so the Gators hope he is an immediate playmaker if he does land on offense. Florida's offense was one of the worst units in the country last season, and much of that had to do with the lack of explosive plays in the passing game.

"Undersized at the QB position but a dynamic player with the football in his hands," ESPN national recruiting analyst Craig Haubert said. "[He] could possibly move to corner for the Gators."

For Florida State, this is a bit of a tough blow as the Noles were willing to allow Harris to try quarterback before moving him to another position. And Harris’ senior season began making believers out of several people that he could be a quarterback at the college level. However, the Noles still have ESPN 300 quarterback J.J. Cosentino (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic), and Jimbo Fisher has not struggled to recruit and develop quarterbacks. Florida State should rebound quickly from Harris’ decommitment.

Harris’ commitment to the Gators might hurt Auburn most. Harris fits the mold for what Gus Malzahn is looking for in a quarterback.

Recruit reaction: Miami-Florida State 

November, 3, 2013
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State could not afford a slip on up on Saturday night if the national title hopes surrounding the program were to stay intact. And while recruiting is a different animal, beating their in-state rival at home in front of so many visitors was of extreme importance if the Seminoles would like to have a shot at the No. 1 overall recruiting class.

After their 41-14 win over fellow top-10 team Miami, both possibilities remain.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher entertained a list of prospects whose quality might not have been matched yet this year and was headlined by cornerback and No. 9 recruit Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover).

The Seminoles have emerged as the clear threat to Alabama for the five-star’s services. According to quarterback commitment J.J. Cosentino (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic), Humphrey was enjoying himself.

"Humphrey is definitely loving it," Cosentino said.

Nearing the final whistle, Humphrey noticed that the crowd had a message for Alabama.



As thorough as the visitor list was, some expected recruits were unable to make the trip. Logistics often get in the way for at least a couple each weekend, so it wasn't a surprise.

Among those not present were River Ridge, La., John Curtis Christian teammates Malachi Dupre and Mattrell McGraw. Though they weren't in attendance, they still took notice watching the game on television.

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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ACC recruiting storylines: Oct. 24 

October, 24, 2013
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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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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: the LSU-TCU game this weekend in the Metroplex has major recruiting implications for both the Tigers and Horned Frogs; Florida State QB commit J.J. Cosentino is working to bring even more Pennsylvania talent to Tallahassee; and Washington will unveil the new Husky Stadium to a host of impressive visitors.

LSU, TCU have chance to make Lone Star statement
On Monday, I wrote about the top college football games recruits will watch closely each week, and one game that I had a tough time leaving off the list was the LSU-TCU tilt Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. LSU has always recruited well in the Lone Star State, and a victory against a quality team in front of a lot of Texas recruits surely will give the Tigers even more fuel for future efforts. For the Horned Frogs, it’s the perfect opportunity to make a major statement to recruits that they’re ready for prime time. Gary Patterson is one of the best recruiters in the nation, and the way he can find under-recruited kids in Texas is something to marvel at. But since arriving in the Big 12, Patterson has won some bigger recruiting battles against the upper-echelon Big 12 programs. A win against LSU will make it easier to win more of those battles.

Summer recruit wrap: Florida State 

July, 23, 2013
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NoleNation looks at 10 themes of Florida State's 2014 recruiting class to date:


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ESPN 300 analysis: Florida State 

June, 17, 2013
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As far as Florida State is concerned, there are plenty of notable and recognizable names in the newly released ESPN 300.


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Florida State's 2014 quarterback commitment J.J. Cosentino (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic) just can't help himself.

He likes being in Tallahassee, he likes being around Florida State, and he was back just last week.

The coaches, of course, were happy about that, too.


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Tales From The Road: Florida State 

May, 15, 2013
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Each week Tale From The Road will provide news updates about where FSU coaches are visiting and what prospects are standing out.

This week's targets: Florida State commitment Delvin Purifoy (Pensacola, Fla./Catholic) was visited by his future position coach, Charles Kelly. Purifoy is the nation's No. 6 outside linebacker and No. 106 prospect overall in the ESPN150. The nation's No. 2 wide receiver, Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), said that he had two Seminoles coaches come by to check in on him. He's teammates with safety Mattrell McGraw who also holds a Florida State offer.

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Jameis Winston's ascent to Florida State's heir apparent at quarterback, and Clint Trickett's subsequent transfer from the program, have changed things for the Seminoles' recruiting tactics at the position for 2014.

J.J. Cosentino is the first and only commitment for Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher at quarterback so far. But FSU very well could take two.

So who will be the second?

Targets

J.J. Cosentino (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic), 6-foot-5, 220 pounds


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College Football Minute: Sept. 23
A Heisman contender says Jameis Winston needs to mature, Michigan tries to weather the storm and Tennessee dismisses a player after allegations of domestic violence. It's all ahead in today's College Football Minute.
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