Florida Gators: FSU football

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — For the past two weeks, all the rumors and accusations and lawyers and headlines disappeared as soon as Jameis Winston trotted through the tunnel and bursted onto the field at Doak Campbell Stadium, as 70,000 of his most ardent supporters roared their approval.

On the field, life is still normal, and that’s provided some solace as the Florida State quarterback deals with the ongoing legal drama of a sexual assault case in which he’s been named a suspect but has not been charged.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesJameis Winston knows he's likely to be a focal point of taunts from Florida Gators fans.
“The football field is our sanctuary,” Winston said.

But as the field in Tallahassee offered shelter on each of the past two Saturdays, it’s more likely to be the eye of the storm this week when Florida State travels to Gainesville to take on rival Florida.

The Gators (4-7) have little left to play for, but that doesn’t mean their fans are likely to be any more forgiving when Winston leads the Seminoles onto the field. Gone will be the rousing ovations Winston received against Syracuse and Idaho the past two weeks. For vocal Florida fans, he’ll be a lightning rod for taunts.

“Florida fans? Of course they’re going to be tough,” Winston said. “But when we get on the football field, clear the mechanism, we’re locked and loaded, and we’re ready to play football.”

Part of Winston’s legend this season was built on his resolve in the face of a vociferous opposition. In his debut at Pittsburgh, he was nearly flawless. Amid the overwhelming noise at Clemson, he told his teammates to soak in the atmosphere before they silenced the crowd with a dominant performance.

So far, at least, Winston has enjoyed the taunts as much as the cheers.

“We block all that out,” tailback Devonta Freeman said. “He’s heard some of the worst things before, and none of that matters when you’re on the battlefield. When we’re warming up, we just don’t pay attention to them.”

Still, this week is different. Against Pitt and Clemson, Winston’s sin was simply the color of his jersey. When he takes the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, the dark cloud of this legal morass offers far more stinging ammunition.

Jimbo Fisher doesn't expect his quarterback to be rattled by the barbs, though. In fact, Fisher’s quite certain Winston will handle The Swamp with the same confidence he used to tame Death Valley. But staying quiet in the face of such potentially damaging criticism is far from ideal, and that’s been the continued stance of Fisher, Winston and the rest of the Florida State football program.

As the accusations were made and the news stories followed, and Florida State has made just one unremarkable statement of support for Winston before closing ranks around him.

“We’ll let the facts come out,” Fisher said. “I don’t want to comment on it too much. Let’s just wait and see how things turn out.”

And yet, while Winston and the Seminoles remain quiet about the investigation off the field, they’ve provided emphatic statements on it. Since the news of the case broke two weeks ago, Florida State has won its games over Syracuse and Idaho by a combined 139-17.

It might not be quite as easy this week, but all season Winston has shown that the field is his playground, regardless of the chaos that surrounds it.

“I think he understands the whole circumstances when you go on the road,” Fisher said. “When you become the guy, one of the faces of the organization, people are always going to get on you. That’s part of it.”

'14 DB Dawson commits to Gators

January, 8, 2013
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CROSS CITY, Fla. -- ESPN Watch List defensive back Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County) has verbally committed to Florida. The 5-foot-11, 188-pound junior chose the Gators over in-state rival Florida State.

[+] EnlargeDuke Dawson
Derek Tyson/ESPNWatch List DB Duke Dawson committed to UF's 2014 class, citing a great relationship with coaches.
Dawson announced his decision at a ceremony held at his high school Tuesday afternoon.

The talented 2014 safety said his relationship with the Florida program is what ultimately persuaded him to choose the Gators.

"For one, I have felt the love there since day one and things haven't changed since," Dawson said. "I love talking to Coach T-Rob (Travaris Robinson), Coach [Will] Muschamp, Coach [Bryant] Young, Coach [Jeff] Dillman and the rest of them."

Dawson's comfort level with Florida started after receiving his first official scholarship offer at Florida's camp during the summer.

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2014 DE Brown taking it slow 

January, 4, 2013
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- 2014 defensive end Keyon Brown (Wauchula, Fla./Hardee) had a blistering pace to his process going when four offers flew in from Louisiana-Lafayette, Miami, Pittsburgh and UCF.

Things now have been a little more manageable. Brown says he's still talking to teams the same, but it is at a slower rate.

"Right now, I am not really decided or anything like that," he said. "I probably won't decide until next year where I am going. The recruiting process started off crazy. It has kind of slowed down, it is steady, but it isn't as crazy as it was."

Recruiting rivalries: UF, FSU in 2014 

December, 4, 2012
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With just a few short months left until national signing day, Florida and Florida State, as always, have two of the best recruiting classes in the country. 2014 will be no different. Here's a look at some of the top prospects Florida and Florida State will battle for next year.

DE Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing): The ESPN Watch List defensive end visited Florida over the summer and came away impressed with the Gators. Williams also visited FSU for its game against the Gators. Other schools will be heavily involved in Williams' recruitment, but these two schools are sure to be near his top schools throughout.

DE Denzel Ware (Crestview, Fla./Crestview): Ware has been committed to FSU since September, but the Gators continue to pursue the talented defensive end. Ware took an unofficial visit to Florida for a game this year and came away impressed. He remains firmly committed to FSU, but Florida is still lingering.

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Harris pushes UF class to No. 1 

November, 29, 2012
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- With the addition of ESPN 150 safety Marcell Harris, Florida has moved to the No. 1 spot in the latest class rankings.

The Trojans had held on to the top spot for a while -- with 16 of their 17 commits in the ESPN 300, and 11 in the ESPN 150. But Harris becoming Florida’s 10th ESPN 150 prospect and the 16th four-star recruit in UF's 22-player class was enough to overtake USC for the No. 1 ranking.

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ESPN 150 S Marcell Harris picks UF

November, 29, 2012
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) verbally committed to Florida on Thursday morning. The 6-foot-1, 209-pound four-star prospect chose Florida over Florida State, Oklahoma and Texas in a ceremony at his school.

Harris, whose father, Mike, played safety for the Gators in the mid 90s, said he felt Florida was the best fit for him.

"It just felt like the place I needed to be at," Harris said. "They are all great schools, they all fit my type of playing style, but in the end I had to pick Florida. The Florida coaching staff, they are all great to me. It's close to home as always, but that really never played a factor. It was just the family feeling, being at home and playing with some great players."

The No. 7-ranked safety said Florida coach Will Muschamp was quick to react when he informed him of his decision.

"He was just happy and excited," Harris said. "He was just happy to add me to the roster ...

"He got Vernon Hargreaves, he got Keanu Neal, Nick Washington and me. We have to build this 'No Fly Zone' and now we representing. We have to represent in 2014. We have a bright future ahead and there's more to come."

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Rivalry week Roundtable: UF vs. FSU 

November, 21, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 4 Florida and No. 10 Florida State meet Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla. The Seminoles (10-1) have won two in a row in the series, after the Gators (10-1) won six in a row.

NoleNation’s Corey Dowlar and David Hale and GatorNation’s Michael DiRocco and Derek Tyson break down this weekend's game in a roundtable discussion:

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UF, FSU often clash for recruits 

November, 20, 2012
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Florida State

Timmy Jernigan: Growing up, there was never a question where Jernigan would play his college football. And there wasn't a question if he would make it to the next level. He was elite, even from a young age. And Jernigan loved the Florida Gators.

Defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins didn't waver, though. He continued working hard to get Jerngian on campus, coached him up on camps and eventually made headway. Finally, FSU got a stranglehold on Jernigan. And by the time national signing day rolled around, Florida didn't even send a letter of intent and Tallahassee was his destination.

James Wilder Jr.: A legend in the prep ranks from early on in his career, this powerful running back was considered to be a UF lean for a while. Florida State and Georgia entered the picture, too. All three programs battled it out intensely.

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Breaking down UF-FSU matchups 

November, 19, 2012
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GatorNation's Michael DiRocco and NoleNation's David Hale break down Saturday's Florida-Florida State game in Tallahassee, Fla.:


UF offense vs. FSU defense

Florida: The Gators have really struggled to move the ball during the second half of the season, especially through the air. Teams are stacking the box and concentrating on stopping RB Mike Gillislee (964 yards, 8 TDs). The pass protection has been inconsistent and the receivers, other than TE Jordan Reed, have trouble separating. UF isn’t able to mount more than one or two sustained drives against good defenses.

Florida State: The numbers speak volumes for Florida State's defense, which ranks among the nation's best for the second straight season. It starts with defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine, the most prolific pass-rush duo in the country. But from the powerful interior line to a strong secondary, there are few weaknesses. The Seminoles rank first nationally in total defense, fifth in scoring defense, first against the run and fifth against the pass.

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2014 LB Daub decommits from LSU 

November, 6, 2012
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Linebacker Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) is no longer a commitment for LSU's 2014 class, his mother confirmed Tuesday.

Daub's reversal is the latest blurb in a long line of recruiting news for the Tigers this week -- though this is the first instance of bad news for LSU. The ESPN Watch List member projects to be one of the top players in the state of Florida next season, and he'll likely be one of the best defenders in the nation.

The decommitment doesn't come as a huge surprise with Daub, as he recently allowed earlier this season that he'd reopen his recruitment to other schools after having shut it down. The Tigers were hoping to reaffirm their status with Daub during last weekend's massive home game against Alabama, but he was unable to make the nine-hour trip.

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Lineman Josh Outlaw claims FSU offer 

September, 23, 2012
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Florida State is again active in the offensive lineman market with the unfortunate news of the football career-ending head injury to Richy Klepal (Tampa, Fla./Plant).

Outlaw
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.com Former Florida pledge Josh Outlaw recently received an offer from Florida State.
Offensive guard Josh Outlaw (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King), a former Florida Gators commitment, said he recently added an offer from the Seminoles.

"They offered me a little while ago," Outlaw said. "I just didn't know about it."

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Seminoles make impression on McQuay 

September, 23, 2012
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Leon McQuay III (Seffner Fla./Armwood) certainly made the most of his Saturday.

The ESPN 150 safety started off in Gainesville, Fla., unexpectedly taking in the Florida-Kentucky game before heading up the road to Florida State for the showdown with Clemson. He wasn't able to spend too much time speaking with the Florida coaches because of the time crunch.

"It was all right," McQuay said of his time at the Gators' game. "I just watched the game and that's it."

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Brown disappointed to miss visit 

September, 20, 2012
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Keyon Brown's (Wauchula, Fla./Hardee) summer camp circuit was impressive no matter where he went.

In the month of July, both Florida and Florida State appeared to be on the verge of offering the 6-foot-2, 227-pound defensive end because of the performances they saw from him in person. Those offers haven't come yet, but still seem likely.

This Saturday, Brown expected to make the trip up to the state's capital city to take in the Clemson-Florida State game. But as it would turn out, other plans came up.

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Johnnie Dixon prizes UF, FSU ties 

August, 26, 2012
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As isn't far from the norm at this time of the year, 2014 wide receiver Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) is ready to get the season going.

Recruiting, then, goes to the back burner. The 5-foot-11, 186-pound target is OK with that, though.

"It is going pretty good right now," he said. "It is kind of slow right now, but everything has been going pretty good.

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2014 OL Garrett Brumfield eyes FSU 

July, 31, 2012
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Just a week after hosting hundreds of prospects for football camp, Florida State had a top-flight offensive line recruit come in for his own unofficial visit.

The Seminoles' defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot scouted Garrett Brumfield (Baton Rouge, La./University Laboratory) during the spring and liked what he saw. Fast-forward a couple of months and Brumfield picked up the phone and planned a trip to Tallahassee.

"I contacted Coach Eliot and I was able to set up an unofficial visit last Friday," explained the 6-foot-3, 254-pound guard. "So we took a trip down to Florida -- it was about seven hours, actually. When I got there, I was able to meet with all the staff, take a tour of all the facilities, we ended up touring the locker room. Got a chance to watch the highlight tape. It was pretty good. Ended up meeting with Coach [Jimbo] Fisher in the end and he offered me in his office."

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