Before we discuss Florida State’s recruiting class, I’d like to give you some context:
- Mark Stoops, Defensive Coordinator, left to be Head Coach at Kentucky.
- DJ Eliot, Defensive Line Coach, left to be Defensive Coordinator at Kentucky.
- Eddie Gran, Running Backs Coach, left to be Offensive Coordinator at Cincinatti.
- Dameyune Craig, Quarterbacks Coach, left to be Offensive Coordinator at Auburn.
- Greg Hudson, Linebackers Coach, left to be Defensive Coordinator at Purdue.
- James Coley, Offensive Coordinator, left to be (real) Offensive Coordinator at Miami.
A typical college football coaching staff has approximately 10 coaches. Head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators, and position coaches (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, secondary). The list above represents the coaches Florida State lost in one off-season; the most recent defection to a rival, two weeks from signing day, hurt the most. As soon as Jimbo Fisher hires his last assistant, I will follow-up with profiles on each of the new coaches.
But let that last point sink in some—Jimbo didn’t just finalize this class without an assistant coach, but that assistant coach happened to be his best recruiter who recruits the Miami territory. And as he admitted in his post-signing day press conference, Jimbo found himself doing the grunt work for the home stretch.
After all the dust settled, Florida State signed another top 10 class. Many insiders are a touch disappointed because it could have been better. There were a few that got away, like Denver Kirkland (OL) and Stacy Coley (WR). More reason for concern is the lack of offensive line depth. Florida State easily expected to sign 5-6 offensive lineman and only came away with 3 true offensive lineman and, potentially, a tight-end turned tackle in a few years time. The rest of the class, however, is absolutely stacked.
The three best players in this class are on defense: Demarcus Walker (DE), Matthew Thomas (LB), and Jalen Ramsey (CB). All are blue chips and considered top 5 at their position. Meanwhile, Florida State’s seemingly singular focus on offense was speed. And a lot of it. For the second consecutive year, Florida State may have signed the fastest player in the country (last year it was Marvin Bracy, this year it is Kermit Whitfield). Bracy and Whitfield have broken all types of track records. Bracy is most known for his performance in this race. And for the naysayers, yes, he’s fast in pads, too. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also show you Kermit Whitfield’s speed as well. Jimbo’s strategy seems simple: a big, punishing, suffocating defense and burning speed on offense. The SEC is awaiting a challenger to their style of smash mouth football but I think Jimbo is building the blueprint to challenge and break the paradigm.
And it all ties to the types of players Jimbo signs. Athletes. Smart kids with character. Some blue chippers, some with chips on their shoulder. This class will not go down as heralded as others, but these are handpicked players by Jimbo. They fit the blueprint to a T. This class also seems awfully reminiscent of FSU’s class of 2009 and 2010 — classes that are sending 13 players to the NFL combine. It was this group that finally turned the corner for the program. And each and every year, Jimbo just keeps adding to that foundation.
Lastly, looking around the rest of the ACC, and I’m sure my colleagues will correct me, it seems the top third of the conference is doing just fine in football performance. However, the bottom two-thirds of the conference turned in weak performances. I’m a little concerned by this. The ACC will get better contracts for having a solid top-to-bottom slate. The ACC is not capable of offering that right now, but then again, if you take away the SEC’s championship caliber teams, they aren’t all that different from the other conferences.