Florida State Seminoles: Andre Davis

The junior college midterm signing period opened on Wednesday and the Auburn Tigers came away as the clear-cut winners.

Despite relentless pursuit by LSU, Auburn signed receiver D'haquille Williams, the nation’s No. 1 junior college player, out of Mississippi Gulf Coast College. The Tigers also announced the signings of his teammate, four-star linebacker/safety Derrick Moncrief, and offensive lineman Xavier Dampeer from Wesson (Miss.) Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

[+] EnlargeD'haquille Williams
Courtesy of Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.D'haquille Williams, the No. 1 juco prospect, signed with Auburn and Gus Malzahn called him "a dynamic player who can run, catch, do all the things it takes to be a great wide receiver."
The good news continued Wednesday afternoon as defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College), the No. 6 player in the ESPN JC 50, flipped his pledge from Tennessee and said he was signing with the Tigers.

By the end of the day, the Tigers had inked three of the top 14 players in the country and are now poised to crack the top 10 of the ESPN Class Rankings with more than a month left before signing day. But make no mistake, Williams was the prize of the haul.

"He's a dynamic player who can run, catch, do all the things it takes to be a great wide receiver," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "If you look back we've had years when we threw it a lot. We are going to get more balanced next year. Anytime you have a dynamic player like him coming, that's a good thing."

Despite missing out on Lambert, it was still a banner day for the Vols.

Tennessee signed the nation’s No. 2 juco prospect in Lavon Pearson, an impact receiver from Quincy (Calif.) Feather River College. The Vols also landed No. 26 Dontavius Blair, an offensive tackle from Garden City (Kan.) Community College, and No. 40 Owen Williams, a defensive tackle from El Dorado (Kan.) Butler Community College.

All three are expected to see the field quickly at Tennessee and are a major part of the Vols’ second-ranked recruiting class.

"Von was as productive of a player as there was in all of junior college football this past season,” Tennessee receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Azzanni said. “He brings instant help as a threat on the outside to our offense.”’

Oklahoma State also came away a big winner with the addition of running back/receiver Tyreek Hill, No. 4 in the ESPN JC 50, out of Garden City. Hill had flirted with Texas and even took an official visit to Austin last weekend, but in the end he stuck with the school he committed to early in the process.

“It feels good to finally get this all out of the way,” Hill said. “I owed it to myself to make sure Oklahoma State was the right place for me. In the end, it was OSU and it wasn’t even close.”

Hill is one of the fastest players in the country, with a 200-meter time of 20.14 seconds and a 100 time of 10.19.

Several other teams filled major holes with commitments as the signing period opened Wednesday.

Kansas State landed Andre Davis (Santa Rosa, Calif./Santa Rosa JC), a receiver who is No. 36 in the juco rankings and is expected to complement All-Big 12 receiver Tyler Lockettnext season. Davis said he told the K-State coaches he plans on coming in and being better than Locket.

Florida State added to its offensive line depth with the addition of Kareem Are (Fort Scott, Kan./Fort Scott Community College), who is No. 45 in the ESPN JC 50. Are is a nice addition because he can play virtually every position along the offensive line.

Florida also landed a nice signing day surprise when Drew Sarvary, an offensive tackle from Tyler (Texas) Junior College switched his commitment from Texas Tech and signed with the Gators. UF needs as much help as it can get up front and Sarvary, a Tallahassee, Fla., native, jumped at the opportunity to stay near home.

FSU awards tracker: Week 5

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
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Florida State's ugly road win at USF wasn't the type of game that will build many awards campaigns for the stars, but it was a solid overall effort with a handful of standout performers. Here's how the Seminoles' awards hopes stack up after five games:

RISING
DE Cornellius Carradine, Sr. (Bednarik)
Added to the Bednarik watch list last week, Carradine quickly added to his campaign against USF. The senior, who is replacing Brandon Jenkins in the starting lineup, finished with a team-high nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble that led to a touchdown. Carradine earned ACC defensive lineman of the week honors and is FSU's leading tackler this season.

DT Everett Dawkins, Sr. (Outland)
Dawkins had another strong game and has been one of FSU's most impressive, if altogether unheralded, performers so far this season. Dawkins had three tackles and helped out on a sack while controlling the middle of the line of scrimmage. QB B.J. Daniels found little room to maneuver, and Dawkins stuffed the run game up the middle.

K Dustin Hopkins, Sr. (Groza)
The ACC's specialist of the week had a nice rebound after an ugly game against Clemson. Hopkins converted three of four field goal chances, including a long of 43 yards. His lone miss was from 48. USF also spent the first half with a long field thanks to Hopkins' leg. Its average starting field position in the first half was its own 19.

CB Xavier Rhodes, Jr. (Bednarik, Nagurski, Thorpe)
Rhodes made three tackles against USF and had a crucial interception of Daniels late in the first half, setting up an FSU field goal with just a few seconds left before the break. Rhodes also blanketed USF's top receiver, Andre Davis, holding him to just one catch for three yards.

HOLDING STEADY
QB EJ Manuel, Sr. (Heisman, Maxwell, O’Brien)
It's hard to fault Manuel for his performance against USF. He completed 73 percent of his passes for 242 yards and converted three big third downs in a road win over an in-state rival. The problem, of course, is that Heisman front-runner Geno Smith threw eight TDs and dismantled the record books. Manuel's game was good, but as Jimbo Fisher continues to say, he's the hunting dog when the awards tend to honor the show dogs.

DT Timmy Jernigan, So. (Outland)
Another solid game from Jernigan, who was exceptional against the run once again, helping to control the line of scrimmage against a USF team aiming to negate the pass rush with quick passes and lateral runs. Jernigan finished with two tackles, including one for a loss, and helped stifle the Bulls running game, which managed just 43 yards on the ground after the first quarter.

LB Christian Jones, Jr. (Butkus)
The big tackle numbers needed to win the Butkus simply haven't materialized for Jones, but he had a strong game against USF. He was routinely in good position on misdirections and option runs -- something that wasn't always the case a week earlier against Clemson -- and he scooped up a fumble for FSU's first defensive touchdown of the year.

S Lamarcus Joyner, Jr. (Bednarik, Nagurski, Thorpe)
Offenses are staying away from Joyner's side of the field, which is a strong sign of respect, but also won't help much come awards season. Joyner had three tackles, and both of USF's long passing plays went to the other side of the field.

LB Nick Moody, Sr. (Butkus)
Moody saw more playing time than he did a week earlier against Clemson, and he finished with two tackles in a solid effort.

DE Bjoern Werner, Jr. (Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski)
USF attacked Carradine in part because Werner has commanded so much attention on film. The junior mustered just two tackles, but he broke up a pass and was consistently in the face of Daniels.

FALLING
WR Willie Haulstead, Jr. (Biletnikoff)
Haulstead remains buried on FSU's receiver depth chart.

DE Brandon Jenkins, Sr. (Bednarik)
Fisher said Jenkins is making progress in his rehab, but they haven't discussed the possibility of the senior taking a medical redshirt and returning for 2013.

Instant analysis: FSU 30, USF 17

September, 29, 2012
9/29/12
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TAMPA, Fla. -- It lacked the emotion of last week's win over Clemson or the style points that underscored Florida State's early season dominance, but the Seminoles remained unbeaten and earned a touch of retribution for a 2009 loss to USF, defeating the Bulls 30-17 Saturday.

EJ Manuel completed 19 of 26 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown, while the Florida State defense had two takeaways that keyed the win.

It was over when: B.J. Daniels felt the pressure and tossed a fourth-down pass out of bounds with 2:18 remaining in the game. USF battled throughout, largely stifling the high-powered FSU offense in the second half, but Daniels couldn't solve the Florida State defense.

Game ball goes to: Cornellius Carradine. The FSU defensive end had a monster game, leading the Seminoles with nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks. His devastating hit on USF backup quarterback Matt Floyd forced a fumble that Christian Jones scooped up for a touchdown. On a night when the FSU offense struggled to find its footing, Carradine's forced fumble provided the turning point.

Stat of the game: 183. That's the total rushing yardage for FSU -- a solid effort but well off the big numbers the Seminoles had been posting through the first four games of the season. Meanwhile the Bulls defensive front failed to make a single tackle behind the line of scrimmage in a loss to Ball State last week, but USF turned up the pressure and gave FSU's revamped offensive line its first real test of the season. The results were mixed. The Seminoles mustered just enough to win, but Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr. and the running game took a big step back from the huge numbers they'd posted against Clemson.

Unsung hero: Xavier Rhodes. The FSU cornerback picked off a Daniels' pass late in the first half to set up a Dustin Hopkins field goal. Rhodes was exceptional in coverage throughout the game, holding USF's big-play receiver Andre Davis to just one catch for 3 yards.

What it means: It was a classic trap game for Florida State, which just won an emotional victory against Clemson last week and was making its first road trip of the season. The Seminoles certainly didn't look sharp, particularly early on, but they managed to sneak past USF to remain unbeaten and earn a small bit of retribution for the 17-7 loss it suffered at the hands of the Bulls in 2009. Jimbo Fisher is now 5-0 career against in-state rivals. Meanwhile, USF falls to 2-3 but its defense turned in a far more impressive effort than it had a week earlier, giving coach Skip Holtz some cause for optimism as the Bulls turn their focus toward Big East play.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- He completed just eight passes, but every one was significant. He ran for 126 yards on the ground, dismantling Florida State's defense each time he rolled out of the pocket. He led an improbable victory in front of his hometown fans, breaking their hearts in the process.

That 17-7 win over Florida State in 2009 was USF quarterback B.J. Daniels' first career start, and even now, four years later, it's probably his most memorable.

"B.J. being from Tallahassee, it was kind of his coming-out party," FSU quarterback EJ Manuel said.

In the years since Daniels' staged USF's coming-of-age moment at Doak Campbell Stadium, he's had his share of highs and lows, finding similar magic in a win at Notre Dame in 2011 but also falling far short of expectations, including last week's debacle at Ball State.

But while Daniels has struggled to recapture the glory of his first start with any sort of consistency, the senior quarterback still represents a potential thorn in the side of a Florida State defense coming off its most problematic game in nearly a year.

Clemson torched the vaunted FSU defense for 426 yards and 37 points last week, while mobile quarterback Tajh Boyd extended plays outside the pocket, ran the ball 16 times for 56 yards, routinely frustrating the Seminoles with misdirection before unleashing deep balls for big plays.

It's a recipe for success that Daniels is more than capable of recreating.

(Read full post)

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