Seminoles’ recruiting class exceeds expectations


Jimbo Fisher was relaxed as offensive lineman Jauan Williams and linebacker Dontavious Jackson appeared on the huge screen in the Florida State War Room.

The Seminoles coach knew his team was about to gain even more momentum.

The announcements came within minutes of each other and both times Fisher pumped his fist and smiled as the players donned Florida State hats and did the Tomahawk Chop.

The Seminoles finished with a flurry Wednesday, landing six four-star prospects, including perhaps the most satisfying, defensive tackle Shavar Manuel, who had committed to Florida a month ago.

The only significant loss in the class of 25 was safety Jamel Cook, who flipped to Southern Cal.

Fisher has never had a signing day haul like this one. Typically, his class is secured before the signatures are faxed in, with the exception of a few stragglers.

“It wasn’t intentional, it’s just the way it played out,” Fisher said. “(But) it was very fun because you saw our program get better. You saw the guys we wanted we got. You saw a lot of assistant coaches’ blood, sweat and tears pay off.

“It’s very rewarding that way.”

The class finished No. 1 in ESPN’s rankings and second to Alabama in 247Sports’ composite rankings and Rivals. FSU, though, has 18 blue-chip prospects (four or five stars) compared to Alabama’s 17, according to 247Sports. No. 3 LSU and No. 4 Ohio State also signed 18 blue chippers.

The ball started rolling early when defensive end Brian Burns from Fort Lauderdale, who at one-time was nearly a lock to go to Florida, announced he would be signing with Florida State. Burns was soon followed by cornerback Carlos Becker, Williams and Jackson.

That momentum carried into the noon hour with the addition offensive tackle Landon Dickerson and Manuel, who had tweeted hours before he was backing off his Florida pledge.

“This class we’re building is going to be great,” Jackson said.

Fisher said that although Manuel committed to Florida in early January he told the coaches he was not through looking.

“We called and said, ‘Hey, is this thing over?’ He said, ‘No, coach, I want you to keep recruiting me,’ ” Fisher said. “So we just kept recruiting him normally and he ended up flipping.

“It was no magic formula, it was just relationships and sometimes guys commit to other places and flip back.”

Fisher said coaches concentrated on developing depth at offensive line, linebacker and cornerback.

Jackson, the No. 4-ranked inside linebacker in the nation, may be the most important addition of the day when considering need. The Seminoles have been decimated at linebacker, losing both starters to graduation along with a host of others who have either transferred or were dismissed from the team.

And with Texas going after Jackson, who is from Houston, the Seminoles were thought to be running a distant second, especially since Jackson made an unofficial visit to Texas last weekend. Jackson has not been on the FSU campus since October.

Williams and Dickerson capped a deep offensive line haul, one that also includes the nation’s top ranked center, Baveon Johnson.

When camp starts in August, the Seminoles will have 18 scholarship offensive linemen.

“That’s what I want,” Fisher said.

FSU entered the day with seven early enrollees. One of those is Malik Henry, ESPN’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the nation.

Fisher said Henry will have a chance to compete for a job during spring practice, especially with incumbent Sean Maguire sitting out after undergoing ankle surgery.

“He has a tremendous chance,” Fisher said. “It’s why he’s here.”



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