These recruits exceeded expectations

July, 11, 2013
7/11/13
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Recruiting and recruiting rankings are anything but an exact science. And sometimes, both miss on prospects that go on to be excellent.

Florida State has had its fair share of those. Amid all the top draft picks and five-star talents, there have been the run-of-the-mill three-star prospects that have exceeded all expectations.

Oh, and there was this one walk-on player, too.

Here's a look at three notable players that went on to college and pro greatness from humble beginnings in Tallahassee.

[+] EnlargeRodney Hudson
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesUnder Rick Trickett's tutelage, Rodney Hudson became an All-American at FSU.
DE Andre Wadsworth

Hailing from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, few expected Wadsworth to go on to be one of the names mentioned in Florida State lore.

In high school, Wadsworth made second-team all-state as a defensive lineman, but also played some tight end. His athleticism was apparent then because he even returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.

When it came to recruiting, just Liberty and Bethune-Cookman College wanted to offer Wadsworth a scholarship. He turned down both and walked on to the Florida State football team.

He went on to be named a consensus All-American and the ACC Player of the Year, ACC Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-ACC in 1997, and Second-Team All-ACC in 1994, 95 and 96. Not bad.

He could have left for the NFL after his junior year, but decided to stay for another season. And in the 1998 NFL Draft, Wadsworth became the highest drafted Seminole in school history going No. 3 overall to Arizona.

QB Christian Ponder

The expectations for Ponder upon his arrival at FSU were that he would be a career backup. He was a three-star prospect with offers from Baylor, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, North Carolina and TCU. And he came in with a highly regarded dual-threat colleague D'Vontrey Richardson.

Prior to the 2008 season, Ponder was named the starting quarterback over Drew Weatherford and went on to throw for just over 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns. Interceptions were a problem (13 in total), but he showed flashes.

The 2009 campaign was cut short after Ponder was hurt trying to make a tackle on DeAndre McDaniel in the Clemson game, but it did cement his plans to come back for his senior year.

Ponder became the first quarterback since Chris Weinke in 1999 to defeat both in-state rivals Florida and Miami in the same season. He would finish his career with over 6,800 yards passing and 49 touchdowns.

During the 2011 NFL Draft, Ponder was selected No. 12 overall by the Minnesota Vikings.

OL Rodney Hudson

Hudson's career is closely intertwined with offensive line coach Rick Trickett. A one-time West Virginia commitment, Trickett's former employer, both ended up in Tallahassee in 2007.

Florida State was able to trump the Mountaineers and Southern Miss to get the three-star recruit to campus. He would go on to become exactly what Trickett had hoped.

Hudson started 10 games as a true freshman in 2007, even playing some tackle. As a sophomore, Hudson would be named First-Team All-ACC.

He'd go on to earn First-Team All-ACC two more times in 2009 and 2010 and would also become a First-Team All-American in 2009 and 2010. Hudson also captured the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as a junior.

By the time he was done, Hudson became the most-decorated offensive lineman in Florida State history.

Hudson was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round with the No. 55 overall pick.

Honorable mentions:

CB Xavier Rhodes: He arrived at FSU as a three-star wide receiver, but left as a first-round pick as a cornerback.

Warrick Dunn: Dunn was highly sought after by many, but as a defensive back. He played running back from Day 1 in Tallahassee and is the Seminoles’ all-time leading rusher.

Derrick Alexander: The legend goes that he was cut by his junior varsity team. He would come to Florida State and anchor the defensive line during the 1993 national championship season and be selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

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