Defensive tackle Shavar Manuel's flip from Florida to rival Florida State on national signing day Wednesday was a strategic move two weeks in the making that the Seminoles were well aware of, according to an FSU assistant coach.
The 6-foot-4, 280-pound four-star recruit from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, had been told, according to defensive ends coach Brad Lawing -- who coached at Florida in 2013 and 2014 -- to "play the game" and "tell the damn Gators anything they want to hear."
Manuel, the 72nd-ranked player in the ESPN 300 and 10th at his position, had committed to Florida on Jan. 5.
"Shavar had told me the night before, 'I'm a Seminole,' and then he committed to Florida," Lawing said during FSU's annual signing day party, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "I called him up, asked what's going on, and he said, 'I'm just getting some pressure from people.'
"So he didn't just flip tonight. We've known about this for about two weeks."
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher told FM 96.9 The Game in Orlando, Florida, that he wouldn't define Manuel's flip as choreographed but said the Seminoles felt "very good" about their chances of picking up the defensive tackle.
"He always was wanted here," Fisher said. "He loved Florida State back in the spring and a couple of years before that. He felt very comfortable here.
"I don't know why he flipped to Florida, and we called and asked if it's over, and he said, 'No, I want you to keep recruiting me,' so we kept recruiting him normally and he ended up flipping to us."
Amid the hoopla surrounding many letter-of-intent signings, Shavar inked his, on Lawing's advice, at his house in private, away from the influence of anyone beyond his family, according to the Sentinel.
"He was good to his word, and he is pumped up to be at Florida State," Lawing said.
Florida State began signing day at No. 3 in ESPN's class rankings but vaulted LSU to finish No. 1 after also landing ESPN 300 prospects Carlos Becker, Landon Dickerson, Dontavious Jackson and Brian Burns.
"Our coaches did an outstanding job of building personal relationships, some of which are two, three or four years old," Fisher said. "It really doesn't matter where we rank. I want to rank the classes after they leave. But I'm aware of where we're ranked at, and it's a testament to how hard our staff worked."
Information from ESPN's Jared Shanker and Jeremy Crabtree was used in this report.