Wilson signing caps top-10 class for FSU


Florida State went into national signing day with a talented group of early enrollees already on campus. The Seminoles were looking to land a few uncommitted prospects who would secure a top-5 signing class.

FSU landed the biggest uncommitted player — five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson of Bellaire, Texas — late on national signing day. The 6-foot-4, 329-pound Wilson is considered the top interior lineman in the Class of 2017 and gives FSU four prospects who are ranked as five-star prospects by the major recruiting services.

“I loved everything about it,” Wilson said at a signing ceremony that was broadcast on ESPNU. “The environment was great. They showed me the love.”

The addition of Wilson and four-star linebacker Leonard Warner were significant additions to FSU’s class and cushioned the loss of three-star defensive tackle Neil Farrell (LSU), four-star linebacker Levi Jones (USC) and four-star receiver Henry Ruggs (Alabama).

FSU signed 22 players, including seven early enrollees, in a 2017 signing class that ranks fourth by ESPN, fifth by Rivals and sixth by 247Sports.com

While there were misses Wednesday, FSU’s class hit with an early-enrollee group that includes five-star tailback Cam Akers, five-star defensive back Joshua Kaindoh and four-star cornerback Stanford Samuels III.

“Our guys say they fit right in, look like the guys who have been here already,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Those guys are all adjusting, already going to classes. Workouts have started, guys have adopted them and players say they like them. They say ‘Coach, they fit right in.’ ”

FSU proved to be the right fit for many prospects. None of those who made verbal commitments to FSU backed off their pledges. FSU signed 14 players Wednesday, including five-star tailback Khalan Laborn, four-star receiver D.J. Matthews, four-star defensive tackle Ja’len Parks and four-star safety Hamsah Nasrilideen.

The group also includes a pair of quarterbacks — four-star early enrollee Bailey Hockman and Glades Central three-star quarterback James Blackman.

“Really intelligent football instincts and knowledge of the game,” Fisher said of Hockman and Blackman. “Pick things up, and they were here when we could still talk to them defensively, schematics, both of them were able to pick things up extremely well.”

FSU has a starting quarterback in 2017 with redshirt sophomore Deondre Francois. But the Seminoles have just one other scholarship quarterback, J.J. Cosentino, going into the season. Signing two quarterbacks is unusual for some programs, but adding quality depth was a need.

“Blackman’s ceiling is incredibly high,” 247Sports recruiting analyst Chris Nee said of the Raider standout. “He is a raw but talented passer. He will need to add weight to his thin rail of a frame and he will need to absorb a great deal of knowledge about the nuances of his position, but with some time and if he takes to coaching, his potential can be realized.”

FSU pulled in three of the nation’s top 10 tailbacks in Akers, Laborn and four-star Zaquandre White. A college program would love to have landed two, but FSU was able to sign three.

Fisher said the pitch was straightforward. He illustrated how he utilized a trio of tailbacks in 2013 — Devonta Freeman, James Wilder and Karlos Williams. And Fisher showed how he could give similar opportunities to Akers, Laborn or White as well as put two of them on the field on the same play.

FSU had a workhorse tailback in Dalvin Cook, who left early for the NFL after rushing more than 500 times in 2015 and ’16. Cook ran for 1,765 yards and 1,691 yards, the two highest single seasons in FSU history, but Fisher said it makes sense to diversify and spread the carries.

“If there’s different roles, you can play two at a time,” Fisher said. “If you’re in a split-back formation, guys can split out and be receivers and catch bubble screens and routes downfield. All of those guys have those kind of qualities.”

Fisher and his staff pulled in the nation’s top tailback (Akers), best interior lineman (Wilson) and the No. 1 defensive end (Kaindoh). They won’t be expected to start in 2017, but help soften the losses of a pair of All-Americans — Cook and defensive end DeMarcus Walker — along with an All-ACC cornerback, Marquez White.

“The most pressing need was to replace departing superstars with top-tier players, while also adding depth,” Nee said. “The class has superstar talent at the top and good depth throughout.”



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