- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
It was not a bad first week of 2014 for Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who capped off commitments from ESPN 300 recruits Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central), Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page) and Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) with a national title Monday. Those three are all among the Noles’ top-four commitments, which helped Florida State once again surpass Miami in the ACC class rankings.
Trending up: Coveted lineman Damian Prince (Forestville, Md,/Bishop McNamara), the top uncommitted tackle in the ESPN 300, took two official visits in November, but his recruitment will really begin to unfold in January. The 26th-ranked recruit and No. 3 tackle will likely visit South Carolina (Jan. 17), Florida (Jan. 24) and Miami (Jan. 31) before making a post-signing day decision on Feb. 14. Maryland is considered the leader, but coach Randy Edsall is not resting easy. Florida State, which he visited in November, is garnering serious consideration, and South Carolina is also a school that could come in late for Prince. Gators coach Will Muschamp is handling Prince’s recruitment for Florida, and the Gators just hired a new offensive line coach. Prince’s recruitment is sure to get volatile with wild swings in several schools’ directions before he finally comes to a decision after signing day.
Trending down: The month of December was not kind to Clemson’s recruiting efforts. At one point, the Tigers' coaching staff felt good about five-star defensive lineman Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) and four-star defensive lineman Featherston, but both opted for other schools. Adding to the sting is the Tigers might have finished as runner-up for both. McMillan was long considered an Ohio State lean, but there was some speculation he could pick Clemson. With Featherston, No. 27 in the ESPN 300, coach Dabo Swinney’s staff was in the driver’s seat until an official visit to Florida State flipped momentum in the top-five defensive end’s recruitment. Several ESPN 300 prospects remain on the board, so Swinney could still be in line for a strong run before signing day. D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga./Walton), who is ranked No. 88, commits Jan. 13, and four-star defensive end Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing Christian Academy) is high on the Tigers. ESPN 300 receiver Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside) is favoring Clemson and NC State.
What to watch: Three-star receiver David Njoku (Cedar Grove, N.J./Cedar Grove) will announce a top three on Friday, and there is a strong chance Miami will find itself among the finalists. The Canes have offered the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Njoku, whose frame could eventually land him at tight end in college. He took an official visit to Miami in December and loved his experience in Coral Gables. Formerly a Rutgers commit, Njoku reports the Scarlet Knights have offered once again. Penn State was showing interest in Njoku and a visit to Penn State caused the schism between he and the Rutgers staff initially, but coach Bill O’Brien and nearly all of the Penn State assistants are no longer at the school. Ohio State will most likely host Njoku for an official visit Jan. 17, but the Buckeyes have yet to offer and are crunching their scholarship numbers leading up to signing day.
Bold prediction: Florida State is not done flipping commitments from rival schools. The Noles were able to lure away No. 4 running back Cook from the Gators, the school he committed to during the summer. Florida State is not done recruiting the Gators’ class either. The No. 2 receiver nationally, Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead), is close with Cook and is saying his commitment to Florida is less than 100 percent. If Lane does flip, expect him to follow his friend to Tallahassee. Fellow South Floridian J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) is also committed to the Gators but said the last few weeks have been confusing. The four-star athlete very well could end up being the final commitment of FSU’s 2014 class. Ironically, Jackson was the first FSU pledge for 2014 before flipping to the Gators in June.
2dCFB Vegas Experts
2dMatt Fortuna and Gerry Hamilton