Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
Losing key players from a top-5 defense that is fresh off of a National Title is inevitable. What might not be expected is a freshman coming in and having an instant impact on such a prestigious unit. Last season it was the combination of Jalen Ramsey and Nate Andrews who immediately contributed to the defensive secondary. Who could be those guys this season?
Trey Marshall- Marshall is a player that jumps out at me not just because of his ability, but because he comes in at a position of need. With Terrance Brooks vacating his safety spot, new Defensive Coordinator is going to be looking for someone to come in and roam the deep parts of the field. While Tyler Hunter and Nate Andrews are the heavy favorites to win the starting spot, Marshall has a chance to show he is ready to get some playing time in relief of the starters. He’ll have a leg up on most freshman as he is already enrolled and learning the playbook. He showcased his unbelievable speed at the Nike Sparq camp earlier in his senior season by running a 4.34 40-yard dash. He plays very similar to the way Terrance Brooks played because he can come up and play in the box. Marshall shows more physicality on film than what Brooks did when he came in his freshman year. What will get Marshall on the field early is the fact that he hits like a linebacker but flies around like a defensive back. Look for him to be on the starting special teams units from day 1.
NFL Comparison: Eric Weddle- Chargers
Demarcus Christmas- Christmas is one bad dude! He has the solid frame you look for in a defensive lineman, measuring in at 6’3 285lbs, and runs his 40 in the 4.6 range. With the physical tools to play right away, he has also shown some loyalty to Florida State throughout his recruitment. After he committed to FSU he did not play the game that most recruits play by flipping back and forth on their decision. In fact, he did not take one visit to any school besides Florida State. Jimbo Fisher loves his ability, and even commented that he would be a 5-star, top recruit if he were to go to any of the camps and showcase his skills. He turned down an opportunity to play in a high school all-star game because he felt like he had nothing to prove. Christmas has the ability to play defensive-end in this 3-4 based scheme because of his incredible burst, and blend of power. I think his emergence will allow Eddie Goldman to play a lot more on the interior than he was able to last season. Look for Christmas to get significant playing time this season on the line, especially with the constant rotation of linemen.
NFL Comparison: Corey Liuget- Chargers
Derrick Nnadi- This was a signing day signee that surely got some Seminole fans jumping for joy. Nnadi is a very good defensive tackle with a quick first step and impressive hand use for a young lineman. He had a good week of practice at the Army All-American game and looks to carry over that momentum to FSU’s camp. With Timmy Jernigan, Demonte Mcallister and Jaccobi McDaniel departing, the Seminole coaching staff will look for depth behind the projected starters. Nose Tackle is still up for grabs, but beating out Nile Lawrence-Stample would be a tall task to ask of Nnadi. However, with the heavy rotation of lineman, we could see a good amount of this freshman in the upcoming season.
NFL Comparison: Marcell Dareus- Bills
Florida State will once again field a defense that will rank in the top-5 nationally; so getting playing time is a real premium with this group. I expect all three linebackers that are being brought in (Kain Daub, Delvin Purifoy, and Jacob Pugh) to contribute in some way, namely special teams. There are a couple of defenders that could be very good after a redshirt year to develop and adjust to the higher level of competition. It should be fun to watch these young guns emerge and develop in to future stars as the season and their careers progress.
Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
The Seminoles closed out the recruiting gauntlet with a top five class, loaded with talent at every position. Florida State proved last year that the best players will play, no matter what grade they are in. Seniority simply doesn’t exist under Jimbo Fisher, as he believes that you must earn your right to play between the hashes of Bobby Bowden Field. Last season we saw an immediate impact from true freshmen on both sides of the ball. Defensive backs Jalen Ramsey and Nate Andrews contributed immensely on the defensive side of the ball whereas the impact of the speedy Kermit Whitfield was felt on offense and special teams. Looking at this year’s recruiting class here are the offensive players that I think will earn significant playing time this upcoming season.
Dalvin Cook- When I mention Reggie Bush and C.J. Spiller, I’m not just rattling off 1st round NFL draft picks, I’m just naming players that Cook has been compared to. This Miami native brings unbelievable speed and agility to the table, and has played against arguably the toughest high school competition in the country. Karlos Williams is the only running back returning with significant playing time under his belt, so Cook will have as good a shot as any of the other two backs to fight for the backup spot. The Noles rotate their running backs enough to guarantee that this early enrollee will see some carries this season regardless of where he lands on the depth chart. Cook also has the advantage of going through spring ball, which should give him extra time to get a grasp on Jimbo Fisher’s extensive playbook. Expect big things and big plays from this homerun hitter this fall.
NFL comparison: C.J. Spiller- Bills
Travis Rudolph- Another South Florida athlete that is expected to contribute to the Seminoles offense from day one is this gifted receiver. After setting the Under Armor All-American game and practices on fire, Rudolph was bumped up to the number one wide receiver prospect in the nation on Rivals.com. He plays almost identically to Rashad Greene in that he is a polished route runner who is dangerous after the catch. In the Under Armor events Rudolph was lethal on his underneath routes, where he can make something happen after the catch, as well as on his deep routes where he constantly gave headaches to the top cornerbacks in the country. With Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw departing to the NFL, it will be pertinent that this true freshman gets in the rotation from day 1. He has all of the tools to be effective at this level but depending on how quickly he can pick up the playbook will determine how soon he sees the field. With unproven wide-outs ahead of him, there is no question in my mind that he will contribute to the offense.
NFL comparison: Reggie Wayne- Colts
Chad Mavety- Mavety was the coaches top ranked offensive lineman in the recruiting process, so pulling in this JUCO stud was very beneficial to the offensive line unit. While 4 out of last year’s 5 starting offensive lineman return this upcoming season, the depth behind them is scarce. FSU brought in 6 offensive lineman in this recruiting cycle, and all of them have an opportunity to be on the two-deep depth chart come August 30th, but Mavety has the upper hand because of his JUCO experience and college ready body. Expect him to be the first tackle off of the bench in case of an injury to Cam Erving or Bobby Hart. Mavety is an exceptional run blocker but could use some work in pass protection. Expect Coach Trickett to work with him extensively to improve that in fall camp.
NFL comparison: Joe Staley- 49ers
Although these are the players that I expect to contribute the most in the fall, a class as talented and deep as this one will include many athletes that are simply too good to keep off of the field. Expect a couple of these freshmen to be playing on special teams and get some quality reps in mop up duty when a game gets out of hand. There are a couple of players that just missed the list as early contributors like 5-star wide-out Ermon Lane and JUCO offensive lineman Kareem Are, who is already on campus.
Check back next week for the defensive impact recruits.
Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
The first Wednesday in February brings a mixed bag of emotions for college football fans every year. You’re favorite team is clawing off their archrival to keep their current commitments, but also fighting to gain the signature from other talented players across the country. The recruiting battle is a dirty process and these 17 to 18 year old kids are being tugged and pulled in so many different directions, that their commitments mean nothing until they sign the dotted line on signing day. To win the games in the fall, you have to win the war in February.
Florida State head coach, Jimbo Fisher, has been known as an ace recruiter since his days as an offensive coordinator at LSU. This year Fisher and his staff put together another phenomenal class that is oozing with talent and immediate depth. I view recruiting as a war; and with every war there are battles that are won and lost. Let’s take a look at the Seminoles wins and losses this Signing Day (I’m only showcasing decisions made on Signing Day.)
Loss- Treon Harris (4-star Quarterback)- Harris is a bit undersized for your typical quarterback, but what he lacks in size he certainly doesn’t lack in talent. Fisher was the first coach to promise Harris the opportunity to play quarterback at the next level and Harris jumped on that promise with a commitment to FSU. His 7-month long commitment ended with a signing day flip to the Florida Gators. Harris’ play is comparable to a Johnny Manziel or even a Michael Vick because of his dual threat ability. This is a guy who was being recruited as a defensive back and a wide receiver by other schools. This tells you how dangerous he can be in space. Hopefully Harris won’t be a thorn in the Noles side for years to come.
Loss- Dexter Wideman (4-star Defensive Tackle)- This one doesn’t sting quite like Harris’ flip. Florida State happens to have a solid amount of depth at the defensive tackle position especially with the signing day addition of 4-star Derrek Nnadi. Wideman proved that he was a very talented lineman with a quick step, dominating the Carolinas Shrine Bowl and with his impressive play in the Under Armor Game. Although the Noles would have loved to keep him in this class, the South Carolina native’s flip to South Carolina was not totally unexpected.
Win- Derrick Nnadi (4-star D-Tackle)- The Seminoles coaching staff once again went up to the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area to get elite talent. Nnadi was considered a heavy lean to Virginia Tech, but in the end, D-tackle coach Odell Haggins, got his guy. With the loss of Wideman to the Gamecocks, gaining Nnadi was essential. Nnadi has one of the quickest first steps from any of the lineman in the 2014 class. The Army All-American uses his hands very well for a high-school player and could see playing time this season.
Loss- Malachi Dupre (5-star Wide Receiver)- I don’t know if you can call this one a true “loss,” as Dupre was never committed to FSU and was merely a dream addition. Dupre chose the hometown LSU Tigers over the Noles on Signing Day. Dupre would have been strictly a luxury pick-up as Fisher already has two 5-star wide-outs in this class and tons of talented wide receivers on the roster.
Win- Javon Harrison (4-star Wide Receiver)- This is a player that the coaches wanted in this class badly but had to shuffle some things around in order to squeeze him in. Harrison is extremely electric with the ball in his hands and is not only a tremendous wide-out, but also a dangerous return man. Harrison flipped from his Virginia Tech commitment on Signing Day to add to the Noles already impressive receiving corp.
Loss- Lorenzo Carter (4-star Defensive End)- Carter choose the Georgia Bulldogs and left the Seminoles without their “cherry on top” this signing day at defensive end. FSU signed two D-ends in this class but would have loved to snag a talented pass-rusher who could play a similar role to the one vacated by Christian Jones. Overall Florida State will be fine with their current depth at this position but would have loved to add the talent that Carter brings to the table.
Win- Roderick Johnson and Derrick Kelly (4-star and 3-star Offensive Tackles respectively)- Johnson was considered a Seminole silent commitment since mid-season but the pen finally hit the paper and he is officially a Nole. Kelly on the other hand saw teams begging for his commitment after a stellar senior season, while the Noles were waiting for room. Kelly was given an official offer Tuesday night after a scholarship opened up and wasted no time pouncing on the offer to play for his dream school. After an abysmal offensive lineman recruiting class last year, the coaching staff rendered their focus to this unit and signed seven offensive line recruits.
Recruiting is such a grueling process that once the coaches sign their 2014 recruiting class, the calls will start going out to the 2015 class. With this year’s Signing Day in the books, the Seminoles have closed out another top-5 class under Jimbo Fisher. It looks like the days of being in contention will be here for years to come.
(All rankings are based off of Rivals.com)
Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
Right when the Florida State football program was at the pinnacle of the college football world, Jeremy Pruitt delivered a pummeling blow that stunned the FSU community. The first year defensive coordinator got his ring, packed his bags, and headed for Athens to become the defensive coordinator for the Dawgs. It was no secret that Pruitt eventually wanted to end up coaching in the SEC, but after one extremely productive year the defensive mastermind darted out of town with two years left on his current contract.
The whole situation is quite eerie. Pruitt and Jimbo Fisher reportedly had a great “working relationship,” and Pruitt had arguably the most talented defensive roster in the nation at his disposal, so why did he leave? It just doesn’t add up.
1010XL’s very own Rick Ballou gave a little insight as to why Pruitt departed with such slyness. Without going into too much detail it sounds like an issue dealing with his fiancé and possibly of other women involved with FSU’s athletic department. Regardless of the truth to those rumors, there is one thing we know for sure and that is: Pruitt is gone.
There is no more time to worry, or wonder why he left, its time to go out and get a coach to replace him. Ok, Pruitt was a spectacular coach, especially with the defensive backs (the Seminoles had the #1 pass defense in the country) but make no mistake about it, he was handed the best defense in college football when he initially inked his contract to come to FSU.
With Signing Day just weeks away, it is imperative that Jimbo Fisher snags a D-coordinator soon to keep the top recruits interested in the Noles. The longer it takes to make a hire, the more anxious recruits become about going to play for a coach that they have not developed a relationship with yet. Fisher has shown his ability to lure top assistants to join his staff in years past, especially last year when he replaced six assistant coaches. He has constantly hit home runs in the past with his hires and I’m sure he will do the same with this open position.
With Fisher’s track record of hires, the Seminole faithful should not have a worry in the world as to how this defense will perform next year. Last off-season when Fisher was looking to hire a defensive coordinator to replace Mark Stoops, he made it clear that he was looking to bring in a young coordinator that likes to blitz and play aggressive. Look for this hire to again follow that criteria based off the success that the Seminoles defense had this past season with that scheme.
Make no doubt about it, Jeremy Pruitt was an outstanding coach, but with the defensive talent that remains on the roster, Jimbo Fisher himself could call the plays and the defense would still be successful. Whichever direction Fisher goes on this hire, rest assured that the Noles defense will be at the top of the charts in 2014.
Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
For all of those people out there questioning the Seminoles because of their strength of schedule or lack of a close victory, the Auburn win Monday night should have alleviated all of their doubts. The Seminoles played their worst possible game for almost three full quarters and still pulled out the victory.
Don’t think that it was smooth sailing for the Seminoles in the Rose Bowl because without a couple of critical plays, Toomer’s Corner would have been covered with toilet paper in wake of the Auburn victory. The Tigers had jumped out to an early 21-3 lead, and the Seminoles were clearly rattled, as this was their largest deficit faced all season. Jimbo Fisher’s squad was in desperate need of a momentum shift and he had just to play to turn things around. Fisher proved his guts and called a fake punt on their own 40-yard line to change the momentum of the game. Dan Hicks received the snap and pitched it to a reversing Karlos Williams who scampered to the left and darted past the first down marker. This play fired up the FSU sideline and gave the Noles hope of erasing the 18-point deficit that loomed on the scoreboard.
The fake punt gave the Noles hope, but the play that changed that game was the kickoff return from freshman speedster, Kermit Whitfield. With a clear hole to the endzone Whitfield flashed his track speed and ran past the Auburn defender to the promised land. Whitfield’s return gave FSU the lead late in the fourth quarter, but Auburn wasn’t done. The final jab from the Tiger offense following the Whitfield return later became a blessing in disguise for the Seminoles. Auburn was driving in hope of regaining the lead and sealing their fate as national champions, but they scored too fast! Tre Mason took a run 37 yards to the house with 1:19 seconds left on the clock. Jimbo Fisher’s offense has been unstoppable this entire season with 1:19 two time outs I had an eerie feeling that Jameis Winston could lead the Seminoles down the field for a touchdown.
Sure enough, Jameis Winston capped his Heisman trophy season with a game-winning touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left in the game. Florida State ended the season with a perfect record, shattering team and individual records along the way. Devonta Freeman became the first FSU running back since Warrick Dunn in 1996 to break the 1,000-yard mark, and if having a 1,000-yard rusher wasn’t enough, Rashad Greene and Kelvin Benjamin both went over 1,000 yards in receiving yards this season.
Sadly the dream season has finally come to an end for Seminole fans. To think that Jimbo Fisher has brought his program to the pinnacle of college football in just 4 short seasons makes the college football world think of one word to describe the direction of the program that Fisher is creating in Tallahassee: Dynasty.