Thursday, February 28, 2008

Team Recruiting Countdown: No. 12 Florida State Seminoles

No. 12 Florida State Seminoles (ACC No. 3)

2008 Haul: 30 signees, 3 Athlon Consensus 100

Scouting Report:

2008 marked a bit of a shift in recruiting philosophy for Bobby Bowden and his staff. In previous season, Bowden relied heavily on closing strong with a few Signing Day upsets to land a top-10 class. This season, they went out early in the recruiting calendar and put together a strong class right from the start.

Offensive line help was an obvious priority. It seems that the offensive line has received the most flack for the downturn in FSU football in recent years, and rightly so. The running game has been anemic and the O-line has been porous to say the least. Bowden and staff landed six prospects in this class to help fix this problem. Offensive line guru Rick Trickett recruits a smaller, more agile lineman for his system. Seminole fans will have to wait and see if these lower ranked prospects really fit his system better than the top talents in the nation. Zebrie Sanders (Clayton, Ohio) is the only highly ranked blocker in this class.

The other issue on this team has been the offensive skill position players. Where are the Anquan Boldin’s and Javon Walker’s of the world? This class should remedy that issue. Jarmon Fortson (Columbus, Ga.) is a star in the making and has performed on every big stage he has played on. JUCO wideout Corey Surrency (Torrence, Calif.) is also ready to come in and contribute immediately. FSU went a long way for the play-making A.J. Alexander (Altoona, Penn.) and fans will not be disappointed.

At running back, the ’Noles landed arguably the top JUCO running back in the nation. Tavarres Pressley (Torrence, Calif.) looks as close to Darren McFadden on film as any recruit has in the past few seasons. He has explosiveness that few players demonstrate on a football field. He can score from anywhere on the field. Look for Pressley to immediately upgrade the mediocre tailback situation.

One thing that has never been an issue for Florida State is the defense. Once again, the Seminoles reload. JUCO talent Markus White (El Dorado, Kan.) and Everett Dawkins (Duncan, S.C.) should be the next two in a long line of talented FSU D-lineman. A pair of Nigel’s will get their shot at continuing the long-standing tradition of linebackers in Tallahassee. Nigel Bradham (Crawfordville, Fla.) and Nigel Carr (Jacksonville, Fla.) are both special athletes and will be the next two stars on the FSU defense.

Two very talented quarterbacks stepped onto campus a short time ago and have not met expectations. Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee never lived up to recruiting hype, but the quarterback coming in this season is the real deal. E.J. Manuel (Virginia Beach, Va.) is as talented a player at the quarterback position since Adrian McPherson. The major difference? Manuel is an incredibly mature young man. He is a smart kid and is already a strong leader on and off the field – something McPherson clearly lacked.

Florida State has once again proved its national appeal. Yes, they landed 15 talented kids from the recruiting behemoth that is the state of Florida. But the ’Noles went into 10 other states for players. They landed four from Georgia, two each from California and Pennsylvania and one each from Kansas, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Ohio and New Jersey.

Top Prospect: E.J. Manuel – QB – Virginia Beach, Va. (6-4, 220) AC100 No. 21

Of all the quarterbacks in the 2008 class, Manuel might be the most ready to play high-level football the earliest. Mentally he is a pure leader — on and off the field. He goes through his progressions very naturally. He also has supreme talents. He has a strong arm and can make every throw on the field. But unlike most quarterbacks coming into college, the shorter touch pass is not a struggle for Manuel. (Watch film of Matt Stafford at Georgia his freshman year) Touch is something very few high school kids really have.

Manuel might also be the most mobile pro-style quarterback to come out of high school in some time. He has learned very early how to ‘run-to-throw’ instead of running to run. Steve Young perfected it.

He will need some time under center as he has been in the shotgun most of his young career. Jimbo Fisher will also be able to fix his throwing mechanics. He needs only to add consistency.

Best of the Rest:

Nigel Bradham – LB – Crawfordville, Fla. (6-2, 227) AC100 No. 14
Nigel Carr – LB – Jacksonville, Fla. (6-3, 224) AC100 No. 59
Zebrie Sanders – OL – Clayton, Ohio (6-5, 280)
A.J. Alexander – ATH – Altoona, Penn. (6-0, 180)
Jarmon Fortson – ATH – Columbus, Ga. (6-3, 220)
Everett Dawkins – DE – Duncan, S.C. (6-2, 250)
Terrance Parks – CB – Fairburn, Ga. (6-1, 200)
Moses McCray – DT – Tampa, Fla. (6-1, 270)
Tavarres Presley – RB – Torrence, Calif. (6-0, 210)*
Corey Surrency – WR – Torrence, Calif. (6-4, 210)*

Sleeper: Avis Commack – WR – Jacksonville, Fla. (6-4, 190)

This long, lanky prospect is solid all-around player. He is not great at any one thing but does everything well. He has good hands, runs decent routes, shows deceptive speed – both with and without the ball – and has the size to be an impact player in the vertical passing game. Commack could give the higher ranked wideouts in the class a run for their money.

* - El Camino C.C.

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