FSU recruiting has been going extremely well for Jimbo Fisher and the Noles recruiting staff. They have reeled in a multitude of players that could impact the team right from the start. That will prove to be important to replace the mass exodus of talent that left. Besides seniors Nick O’Leary, Rashad Greene, and Karlos Williams, the Seminoles also lost four of their offensive lineman. The most significant losses were from the underclassmen; namely Mario Edwards, P.J. Williams, Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby, and of course Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston.
FSU currently has the number two recruiting class according to 24/7 Sports, second only to Alabama. FSU’s top recruit, George Campbell, from Tarpon Springs, FL is the number seven recruit according ESPN. Officially listed as an athlete, Campbell is a big receiver in the mold of a Kelvin Benjamin who can get up the field in a hurry. He could have an immediate impact like Dalvin Cook did last year, especially since he is already enrolled and will be in spring training. He shows great potential that people hope will come to fruition in a year or two and eventually replace Greene’s production.
Another player who could have an immediate impact is Derwin James, the number eight recruit according to ESPN. James is regarded as one of the best safety recruits in a long time, and has also already enrolled, so he could see the field a lot as a true freshman and maybe even start. It seems likely that one of the safeties, Jalen Ramsey, will be moved to cornerback to help negate the loss of Williams and Darby, which will free up that position for someone like James. In the Under Armour All American game, his name was called when he was delivering a hit or knocking a pass down, and never for being out of position. James will definitely be a recruit to watch this upcoming season due to his ability to be a difference maker in a secondary that lacks experience.
Josh Sweat was a huge steal from Virginia as the no. 11 recruit in the class according to ESPN. In high school, he was an unstoppable force at defensive end. He is currently recovering from a severe knee injury that dropped him out of the top 5, and at one point he was no. 1 overall. If he can stay healthy, he will have an immediate impact on the field. According to Hudl he is 6-5 and 240 pounds, he runs a 4.46 40 yard dash time and has a 40 inch vertical. (Those are better high school combine numbers than Jadaveon Clowney at the NFL combine). His junior year stats according to Heavy.com were: 94 tackles (31 for a loss), 22 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles and recoveries. He has also enrolled early, and when he sees the field, he will make an immediate impact as a replacement for Mario Edwards.
There are many other players in the Noles recruiting class who look like potential excellent players. Deondre Francois, FSU’s top QB recruit, looked excellent in the Under Armour practices and the game. The highlight of the game was Francois throwing a perfectly thrown sixty yard pass to George Campbell. He seems like a good fit to replace Winston. Francois still has a visit planned for Florida so FSU hopes he doesn’t flip.
FSU is set up very well because it has a commitment from the best QB in the 2016 class – Malik Henry – whose ability many scouts claim resembles Winston’s. Isaac Nauta is the best TE in the 2016 class, and has also committed to FSU. These two will ultimately replace Winston and Nick O’Leary and propel FSU back into the title discussions. Even if excellent quarterback play doesn’t happen in 2015, 2016 will have a great one for sure.
Some other notable recruits are Da’Vonte Phillips (WR), Kai Locksley (QB/WR), Darvin Taylor II (DT), Lorenzo Phillips (LB), Jalen Wilkerson (TE), Cole Minshew (OG), Calvin Brewton (S), De’Andre Johnson (QB), Abdul Bello (OT), Jacques Patrick (Power running back), and Tarvarus McFadden(DB) who is ranked a 5 star recruit at 247 Sports, but not ESPN. McFadden could help diminish the loss of Williams and Darby. Locksley is more of a WR, and De’Andre Johnson could also win the starting job, but will more likely be redshirted as he seemed a little raw in the Under Armour game. The no. 1 Outside LB transfer Lorenzo Phillips for this upcoming season just committed to FSU and will add much needed depth to a weakened unit because of Reggie Northup’s ACL tear and EJ Levenberry transfer.
FSU is still in the race for some significant prospects; namely Byron Cowart, Terry Beckner Jr, and Iman Marshall according to ESPN.. Cowart and Beckner would replace Goldman and Edwards immediately upon signing. Marshall, who visited this weekend, could replace either Williams or Darby immediately. All three of these players were in the Under Armour game, and Cowart and Marshall really stood out. Cowart’s last visit is FSU, so Fisher has the upper hand by getting the last word. There was a short segment where Marshall took criticism and applied what he learned immediately. That is what the Seminoles need from a cornerback this season, so they will be hoping for a commitment from him.
Overall, FSU has done an excellent job to get talent to come to Tallahassee for this upcoming season. There are many that believe this will be a rebuilding season for the Seminoles, but FSU will still be able to compete in ACC. The future is very bright in Tallahassee.
by JOSEPH RESSLER / Contributing Writer