Florida State Seminoles Thread
Florida State Team Report
Feb 6, 2009
The Seminoles returned to their roots in recruiting, proving home is where you can best woo hearts.
Of their 21 signees on national signing day, 13 were from Florida, including six from a tri-county area around Tallahassee.
“We reached a decision a couple of years ago—let’s try to work Florida more,” FSU head coach Bobby Bowden said. “The first thing you know you’re going all over the country and you’re ignoring the boys in your home state.”
Part of the new focus, however, is also a consequence of the Seminoles losing status nationally. During their dynasty era, the Seminoles fielded calls from prospects across the nation seeking to be recruited. But when the team began struggling on the field at the start of this decade, the recruiting slipped badly and FSU lost connections and favor with high school programs in Florida.
It is one of the biggest reasons for this program’s decline. The Seminoles once fought for every top player in Florida, then all of a sudden the Florida Gators were grabbing the state’s best players and others headed out of state.
“I always prefer to work from the inside out,” Bowden said. “I wish we could get 25 from Tallahassee. It would save a lot of money. We’re trying to get back more to our home state and we’re doing that. And it will probably reap good benefits from that, too.”
Efforts from offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who has also been the unofficial recruiting coordinator, has been a big factor, along with Bowden’s shakeup that injected some new coaches into the staff.
Florida State also made inroads this year in talent-rich Valdosta, Ga., located just 90 minutes from the FSU campus. For the first time since 1981, the Seminoles signed players from this area by landing star safety Greg Reid and defensive back Gerald Demps, both of whom went to Lowndes County High School.
Still, there were some notable misses. The Seminoles used to never lose a great player from the Pensacola, Fla. area, which is only three hours from their campus. But they missed on megastar running back Trent Richardson, the nation’s top-rated back according to most recruiting services. He signed with Alabama. This is a guy who would have been an easy catch 10 years ago, but the Seminoles had to fight to even get him to take an official visit.
Within their own town, the Seminoles also lost nationally acclaimed safety Jawanza Starling, a Tallahassee-Lincoln High star, who signed with Southern Cal. Again, 10 years ago this would have been unheard of.
They lost two head-to-head battles with rival Florida for receiver Andre Debose, considered the state’s best, and tight end Orson Charles, also rated tops in the state. But they also won some battles with Florida, which was huge for the Seminoles.
And unlike the past couple of years, they pulled near Florida in terms of overall class ranking. This time, the Seminoles didn’t have to read and hear how the Gators dominated in recruiting. It’s getting closer to the way it once was.
“I’m very pleased. It’s an excellent group,” Bowden said. “The key to this whole thing is evaluation. Evaluation.”
TB Chris Thompson—FSU running backs coach Dexter Carter proclaimed that Thompson (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) can be another “Warrick Dunn, only faster.” It’s a high compliment for a player hampered by injury this season. He had nearly 2,300 yards and 33 touchdowns as a junior and was named Class 2A player of the year.
WR-SS Willie Downs—Made his name at Tallahassee’s Godby High School as a receiver. He had a school-record 144 career catches and 2,396 yards. But he’s strongly considering playing safety, a position of immediate need for FSU. Downs was outstanding in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, returning an interception for a score, breaking up two passes and causing a fumble.
DB Greg Reid—The Seminoles hope he is their next great cover corner. He was Parade All-American and the Associated Press’ Player of the Year in all classifications for the state of Georgia.
DT Jacobi McDaniel—He was named USA Today first-team All-America and Parade All-America. He was the Tallahassee Democrat’s Big Bend defensive player of the year. Rivals.com ranked him as the nation’s No. 15 overall player.
WR Rodney Smith—Hails from Miami’s Bishop Carroll High School and continues the Seminoles’ pipeline from the talent-rich Miami-Dade County region. He finished with 35 catches for 703 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior All-State Class 2-A second team. Ranked 65th nationally overall by Rivals.com.
DT Demonte McAllister—As a senior, the Tampa star made 30 of his 97 tackles behind line of scrimmage. He also had 19 sacks. Rivals ranks him as the No. 70 player overall in the nation.
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