NCF On The Trail: Jacques Patrick

While the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual was a forgettable one for Dalvin Cook, his freshman season as a whole will be talked about at Florida State for quite some time.

Without Cook's emergence in the second half of the season and MVP performance in the ACC championship game, the Seminoles likely would not have made the inaugural College Football Playoff in the first place.

One of the elite prospects of the 2014 class, Cook was able to get a jump-start on his college career when he enrolled at Florida State in January of last year rather than the summer, which is when most signees officially step on campus full time. Although Cook suffered a shoulder injury that cost him all of spring practice, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said it was pivotal having Cook in team meetings and learning the nuances of a complex offense. It clearly paid dividends in the fall.

Fisher hopes the next crop of early enrollees, which arrived this past weekend, can provide a similar impact. Few programs play more freshmen than Florida State, and it will certainly need a boost from its 2015 class with significant losses coming at nearly every position.

The good news is that once again Fisher's haul is an impressive one, and the Seminoles' top four commitments are all on campus. Five-star defensive end Josh Sweat, five-star and No. 1 athlete George Campbell, No. 1 safety Derwin James and No. 3 running back Jacques Patrick highlight the Seminoles' No. 2-ranked class Insider, and they're all on campus.

Sweat, No. 5 in the ESPN 300, suffered a torn ACL during his senior season, but he'll now be able to rehab with the Florida State staff. While it's unlikely he will participate in spring practice, the weakside defensive end should be ready in the fall and can provide an immediate pass rush on third down. The Seminoles struggled all season to consistently rush the passer.

With the loss of Nick O'Leary and Rashad Greene, FSU's career leader in receptions, the Seminoles have a significant void to fill at receiver. Campbell, ranked No. 10 nationally, was a 6-foot-4, 190-pound athlete rather than a receiver initially, but reviews from his senior season and Under Armour All-America Game practices suggest Campbell's hands have improved significantly.

"There has not been a 6-foot-4 vertical receiving threat in the Under Armour All-America Game who runs as well as George Campbell since A.J. Green in 2008," Tom Luginbill,'s senior national recruiting analyst, wrote last week. "The knock on Campbell has been consistent ball skills, but all he did was pluck the ball nicely and take the top off the defense. Campbell falls out of bed in the morning and runs a sub-4.4 40-second dash, and he will be a nice complement to the more physical, stoutly built Da'Vante Phillips."

The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Phillips, No. 58 in the ESPN 300, is also enrolled early. He comes from Miami Central High School, the alma mater of Cook.

Patrick will provide a bigger complement to Cook and Mario Pender in the backfield. Patrick is 6-foot-3 and 233 pounds, so he could immediately see time in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Although Florida State failed to effectively run the ball at times this season, the Seminoles performed well in short yardage with the senior Karlos Williams. Patrick might fill that role.

Then there is James, the top-ranked safety and a player who has impressed evaluators at every camp, combine, practice and all-star event. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound James has been committed to Florida State for nearly three years, and his loyalty could be rewarded with early playing time. Luginbill labeled James "The Punisher" for his physicality and speed. Luginbill called James a "headhunter," and fellow recruiting analyst Craig Haubert said the NFL coaches at the Under Armour All-America Game practices could see James turning into an elite linebacker. The Seminoles are in need of an upgrade at linebacker.

Eighth-ranked dual-threat quarterback De'Andre Johnson is also on campus as well as four-star safety Calvin Brewton.

UA practice notebook: Day 3 

December, 31, 2014

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Todd Wofford knows a good football player when he sees him.

As the coach at Central Gwinnett High School, Wofford has worked with some special players over the years, including ESPN 300 outside linebacker and current Alabama commitment Adonis Thomas and current Ohio State linebacker Trey Johnson. So it speaks volumes when he gushes about the running back talent he is tutoring this week at the Under Armour All-America Game.

For the longest time it looked like Alabama was going to run away with the title for the top-ranked class, but here comes Florida State. Plus, why the hype around Josh Sweat?

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SEC's top recruiting visits 

November, 14, 2014
The Mississippi State at Alabama game looks to be loaded with big-time visitors. Georgia is also expecting several ESPN 300 prospects for its game against Auburn and Florida is hoping continue its momentum against South Carolina in front of several recruits. Here’s a closer look at some of the top visitors in the SEC this weekend.

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UA jersey tour: Deondre Francois

November, 7, 2014
BRADENTON, Fla. — ESPN 300 quarterback Deondre Francois was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Friday afternoon morning in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of friends, coaches, teammates and media members at the IMG Academy field house in Bradenton, Florida.

The fourth-ranked dual-threat quarterback and the No. 54 player overall in the ESPN 300 said he felt honored to be selected to one of the top all-star games in the country.

“It means a lot to me,” Francois said. “It’s like a dream come true. I’ve been waiting on this for a long time. I’ve worked hard for this since my freshman year."

Francois has been committed to Florida State since July. The four-star quarterback has never wavered in his promise to the Seminoles and, to his surprise, schools have backed off recruiting him since he committed to the Seminoles.

“Since I committed, no teams have been coming after me — at all. Which kind of surprised me, because a lot of teams were coming after me. But that’s making it easier on me and on Florida State since no other teams are still coming after me.”

Francois transferred from Olympia High School in Orlando and is coached at IMG by former Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke. Francois said his experience with Weinke has helped him grow on and off the field.

"With coach Weinke, he’s been a great help,” Francois said. “I’m so glad I came here. I don’t regret coming here at all. He helps me with throwing the ball, running the ball and especially being a leader because of where he came from. He knows the game inside and out, and in this pro-style offense, it helps me so much and prepares me for the next level.”

Six questions with Deondre Francois

Who was the best player you ever saw play in the Under Armour game?

Francois: Marvin Bracy recently. I remember A.J. Green, Jameis Winston and Sean White from last year. He did a great job.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class, who would it be?

Francois: Probably Jacques Patrick. We’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve played together for a long time; since little league. We both committed to Florida State and we are really good friends.

What's your earliest football memory?

Francois: I remember when I was on peewees back in Orlando, and we scrimmaged the older junior team. I was about 8 years old and the other kids were about 13. I ran the ball on the bootleg around and the other guy hit me so hard and I got injured and pulled my groin. I was hurt; I was out. I’ll never forget that.

If you could take on a professional athlete in their sport, who would it be and why?

Francois: Probably Russell Wilson. I look up to him the most. I want to model my game after him, on the field and off of it.

What’s something about yourself that not many people know about?

Francois: I’m just really outgoing. I’m quiet around people I don’t normally talk to, but when I’m around my friends, I just like to dance and just to have fun.

What do you want to improve on the most before you get to college?

Francois: On the field, I just want to work on my feet. Get in the playbook more and watch more film. I just want to get better at everything. I’m never too good to stop working on it. I want to get better at throwing the ball, running the ball and making decisions.

Kansas State and TCU battle in one of the biggest games of the weekend, and Horned Frog coach Gary Patterson said both teams have been built off a comparable recruiting philosophy. Could landing ESPN 300 Junior recruit Jovanny Garcia start a trend for Minnesota?

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Florida State Seminoles have been on a tear. The success extends from the field, where the Seminoles have won 24 straight games and a national championship and have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner leading their potent offense, to recruiting, where they continue to stockpile top prospects.

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UA jersey tour: Jacques Patrick

October, 27, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. -- ESPN 300 running back Jacques Patrick was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey monday evening. The ceremony took place in front of family, friends and teammates at Timber Creek High School's gymnasium in Orlando, Florida.

The 42nd-ranked prospect in the country, who committed to Florida State following his jersey presentation, said he is honored to be selected to the prestigious game.

"It means a lot to be selected for this game," Patrick said. "I was in the youth game and now I'm playing in the high school game and it means a lot and it showed I continued to work hard over the years and get better. Hard work pays off and I'm a strong believer in that."

Patrick chose the Seminoles over Texas A&M, Alabama, Florida and Ohio State and said head coach Jimbo Fisher played a big role in his decision.

"Florida State is a school I've always felt comfortable at, a school that I always felt I'd have an opportunity at," Patrick said. "The coaches have been recruiting me since my freshman year. They've recruited me hard. Coach Jimbo [Fisher] he's the head coach, but he's taken time out of his days to call me and personally recruit me and that means big when the head man wants you the most out of all the schools. I'm glad I made the choice."

Eight questions with Jacques Patrick

What aspect of the Under Armour game are you most looking forward to?

Patrick: I'm looking forward to just being around some great players and hopefully allow me to elevate my game to another level. Hopefully I can put on a show for my Orlando people.

Who are your role models on the football field?

JP: My role models on the football field are Peyton Manning and guys like that. They just have great class and that's how I want to be. Have class on and off the field.

What are your dreams outside of football?

JP: I want to make it in the sports broadcasting world. Hopefully make it on "College GameDay" one day like Desmond Howard and those guys.

Who do you credit for allowing you to chase your dreams?

JP: My family because without them none of this would be possible and God obviously, my coaches.

Who was your favorite player in the Under Armour game growing up?

JP: Braxton Miller was my favorite. I was playing in the youth game the year he played. I got to see all those guys and Karlos Williams.

What's your earliest football memory?

JP: When I was seven years old, when I first started playing, I tried to catch a sweep and didn't know what I was doing and the kid took advantage of me and knocked my helmet clear off. I quit football for a while after that.

If you could start a team with any other player in this class who would it be?

JP: I'd go with Deondre Francois, my quarterback with the Noles.

What number do you wear in high school?

JP: 10. That was the first number I wore in little league and hopefully Sean [Maguire] will let me wear it at Florida State.

Scout's Take: RB Jacques Patrick to FSU 

October, 27, 2014

Under Armour All-American Jacques Patrick has committed to the Seminoles. Below, see how the ESPN 300 running back can add to Jimbo Fisher's offensive firepower:

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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

September, 16, 2014

As always, there was a ton of recruiting news from around the SEC this past weekend. Ole Miss picked up a commitment, while the Rebels, Gators and Gamecocks all had big visitors for their games Saturday. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

September, 9, 2014
The ACC once again had a weekend on the recruiting front without a number of big-time official visitors or a large number of commitments. With that said, Florida State made national news Friday, and the nation's No. 1 prospect made his first official visit -- which impacts the ACC.

Biggest commitment: Florida State

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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

September, 2, 2014
The college football season is officially underway with the first week of games now in the rearview mirror. While the opening weekend was a slow one with the first official visits on tap this weekend, one team did pick up a key quarterback commitment while another program hosted a number of top targets for unofficial visits.

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The Sound Mind Sound Body camp was full of top prospects from all over the country. The recruits, ranging from the 2015 to 2017 classes, came in for a two-day camp with on-the-field instruction and off-the-field speakers.

College coaches from nearly every Big Ten team, Stanford, Notre Dame and MAC schools were on hand to take in the event, and some were given the opportunity to speak to the prospects.

The coaches took advantage of the face time by spending time with top targets, including defensive end Jashon Cornell, running back Jacques Patrick, wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and others.

Given the nature of the camp there was plenty of recruiting news and visit updates from those top recruits.

Patrick takes in Michigan
Michigan is still in pursuit of a top running back after losing Damien Harris to a decommitment earlier in the year. Mike Weber and Jacques Patrick have been two big targets, along with Harris, and Patrick made his annual trip up to Michigan to see the campus and take in the camp.

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IMG Southeast Regional notebook 

March, 31, 2014
BRADENTON, Fla. -- South Florida has always been known for producing top talent and elite seven-on-seven teams but it was two teams from Jacksonville (Fla.) that battled in the finals of the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional Championships on Sunday.

The Pro Impact team, led by LSU commit and the No. 3-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300 Kevin Toliver II and defensive back Derwin James Jr., a Florida State commit, upset River City, which featured FSU quarterback commit De’Andre Johnson and South Carolina commit Sherrod Pittman, 23-14.

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Orlando/Miami NFTC awards 

March, 17, 2014

Florida prospects had a big opportunity to shine this past weekend with a pair of NFTC events taking place in the state. The packed weekend kicked off on Saturday in the Orlando area with a talented group that included two top-10 ESPN Junior 300 prospects. The action moved south Sunday for the Miami NFTC, which featured a strong group of skilled prospects. There were many good performances throughout the weekend, and here are the Recruiting Nation NFTC Awards highlighting some the top and most notable performers.

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