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Thursday, January 31, 2013
The Big Board: Few immediate impacts

By David M. Hale

The final push to add to the incoming Class of 2013 is on, and Jimbo Fisher and his plethora of new assistant coaches have been hard at work trying to hold on to the commitments they already have while adding a few late surprises, too.

The final results should all be known Wednesday. But really, that's just the beginning.

Once national signing day is over, the focus again turns to the field. Since Fisher took the helm at FSU in 2010, there haven't been too many incoming freshmen to make a particularly big impact on game days.

Despite three consecutive seasons of highly regarded signing classes, the history of impact freshmen is limited to just a handful of big names. In fact, looking back over the past three classes, it's rare that a freshman gets significant playing time at all, let alone makes a major impact.

Mario Edwards Jr.
Seminoles defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. started the final two games of his freshman season.
In truth, the title of "regular" contributor is a generous one. In 2012, for example, it included Mario Edwards Jr., who was set to redshirt before several injuries at defensive end landed him in the starting lineup for the final two games of the season. The other two regulars were punter Cason Beatty and cornerback Ronald Darby, who never started a game and likely would've seen significantly less action had Greg Reid not been dismissed from the program in August.

The 2011 season is the outlier, but again, injuries forced Fisher's hand in several cases. Devonta Freeman, Austin Barron and Bobby Hart are among the regulars who landed bigger roles largely by default.

In the three full seasons under Fisher, there weren't many standout freshman campaigns. Rashad Greene probably had the best season by a freshman. Freeman, Darby, Timmy Jernigan and Bjoern Werner all made their marks in lesser roles.

Odds are the bulk of the incoming class will see little or no action in 2013. In fact, overall, just 14 out of the 65 true freshmen Fisher has signed -- roughly 1 in 5 -- played a significant role in his first season. On the other hand, more than half either redshirted or left the school altogether.

Of course, as 2011 proved, needs can change, jobs can open and talent can emerge. But even as Fisher's 2013 squad figures to have plenty of turnover, there don't appear to be many -- if any -- full-time jobs in which the Class of 2013 will be favored to take.

So even as the final push toward signing day adds some enthusiasm and excitement to an otherwise dull time of year for football fans, the coda to the big event is likely to be at least a year of patiently waiting to see what FSU's new toys can do.