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Monday, September 23, 2013
Winston influences TE Izzo's FSU pledge

By Jared Shanker and Corey Dowlar

Florida State hardly needs more playmakers for redshirt freshman phenom Jameis Winston. But if there is one offensive position the Seminoles need to address for the future, it is tight end.

Coach Jimbo Fisher addressed that 2014 recruiting need Monday with a commitment from three-star tight end Ryan Izzo (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII). Izzo, who committed to Florida State over finalists Rutgers and Wisconsin. He announced his commitment on Twitter and confirmed it with ESPN.com.

“No doubt it did,” Izzo said of the potential of playing with Winston factoring in his decision. “Being able to see all the potential and all Jameis Winston has shown early on, him being a redshirt freshman, that influenced my decision because he’s gonna be the man to get me the ball.”

Before his Florida State official visit the weekend of Sept. 13, Izzo was down to the Noles, Scarlet Knights and Badgers. There was no clear leader for Izzo at the time because he had yet to visit Tallahassee until that official visit. Once he got a chance to meet with the players and coaches, he felt an immediate connection and comfort level with everyone involved in the Florida State program. By the time he arrived back in New Jersey, Izzo began working toward a Noles commitment.

“I wouldn’t say they were my leader because I could go there with all the tradition and success and it could not be a fit,” Izzo said. "But the official visit really opened my eyes and made it a clear decision for me.”

Given the developments at tight end for Florida State this offseason and when looking to future possibilities, the Seminoles needed to bring in some bodies.

In the summer, Kevin Haplea suffered a season-ending knee injury, and though medicine has come a long way and recoveries aren't as bleak as they used to be, Florida State's coaches can't guarantee Haplea will come back and be the same player he was.

Excited to finally announce I am officially committing to FLORIDA STATE university, thankful to God for all his blessing on me !!!

— Ryan Izzo (@IzzoRyan) September 24, 2013
Couple that with the transfer of Christo Kourtzidis out of the program and, well, it hasn't been exactly the best offseason in tight end history in Tallahassee.

Giorgio Newberry, a defensive end last season, was moved over to the position this year. And Nick O'Leary is still there and making an impact in the passing game. But there are questions whether he will stick around next year. Though he probably should, it's hard to say with certainty.

Izzo's inclusion gives position coach Tim Brewster a 6-foot-6 body to work with in the weight room next summer. With long arms and some muscle packed on, Izzo should be able to learn how to seal an edge quickly in the running game -- one of the most important assignments in Fisher's offense.

Izzo will need time to develop physically before he is playing at his best, but he won't have to wait long to see the field. Should he continue on this course and sign with the Seminoles, it's hard to see him not playing in year one.

“Definitely [playing early was] what Coach Fisher was saying and he’s excited about me,” Izzo said. “He said with my frame they can put weight on me and my freshman year I can contribute to the team.”