Florida State Seminoles: Chad Thomas

Signing day wrap: ACC

February, 5, 2014
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Signing day is known for the crazy. Condense an entire college football season into 12 hours and that offers a glimpse -- albeit minimally -- into the first Wednesday of February.

It began with ESPN 300 defensive lineman Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), arms folded and chest out, announcing his intention to sign with Michigan State. His intention to sign. A glare from his parents and whispers in the gym let it be known this saga was not going to end at 10 a.m. in front of a microphone.

Both of McDowell’s parents would like to see their son, No. 60 in the ESPN 300, at any school in his top four not nicknamed the Spartans. Florida State is among those finalists, and several predicted the Seminoles would land McDowell considering his parents' distaste for all things Green. So Jimbo Fisher and those inside Doak Campbell are keeping the fax machine plugged in, offering a few more hours' respite from the storage closet for the condemned technology.

Ultimately, McDowell, whether of his own volition or executing his parents’ will, did not fax a letter of intent to Michigan State as of 8:00 p.m. ET, and the Noles finished signing day with the No. 3 class sans another elite lineman.

Compared to the McDowell drama, the rest of the morning was tame for the ACC. There were some tense moments, but signing day pretty much went the way most expected.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Nnadi
John Albright/Icon SMIGetting ESPN 300 DE Derrick Nnandi on Wednesday helped make national signing day successful for Florida State.
No team had more of an opportunity to close strong than the Noles, and Fisher did a fine job closing. It was unrealistic to expect Florida State to land every recruit on the board, five-star Lorenzo Carter (signed with Georgia) and No. 1 receiver Malachi Dupre (LSU) among them. However, into the fold for Florida State was ESPN 300 linemen Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes), Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central) and Derrick Kelly Jr. (Quincy, Fla./East Gadsden), who was poised to sign with Florida but gave his commitment at the 11th hour.

Florida State was involved with a handful of signing day flips, but none that caught the Noles’ staff off-guard. No. 7 dual-threat quarterback Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) switched to Florida and Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda) signed with South Carolina, but the Noles flipped Ja'Von Harrison (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen), No. 117 in the ESPN 300. Harrison was committed to Virginia Tech for 18 months before his signing day change of heart. Harrison, ranked as an athlete, finalized what could be the best receiver class in the country. It was one of the best classes nationally, too.

“We’ve had large numbers this year, got needs all the way across the board and filled it with great players and everyone position across the board we had somebody in,” Jimbo Fisher said at his signing day news conference. “We were excited about that.”

Miami’s flipping efforts went for naught, but it prevented one of its own from changing allegiances. Local defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), ranked No. 3 among Hurricanes commits, took late official visits to Alabama and Florida State. There was some panic from fans when Thomas’ fax did not roll through exactly at 9 a.m., but Canes coach Al Golden said Thomas’ mother reassured him the 65th-ranked player in the country would stay near South Beach.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney would scoff at the claim FSU has the best receiver class. The Noles received the signing day pats on the back for landing No. 2 receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) and Harrison on Wednesday while the Tigers had three four-star receivers already on campus. ESPN 300 receivers Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) and four-star Kyrin Priester (Snellville, Ga./Fork Union) enrolled in early January. ESPN 300 receiver Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside) signed Wednesday.

“It was a critical need for us ... and we are excited about all four,” Swinney said at his signing day news conference.

Mike London had a quiet signing day in his Charlottesville office, but that is all he could have hoped for following a winless ACC campaign. The Virginia coach did most of his 2014 recruiting work before the 2013 season, and he was able to secure the signatures of five-star Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) and ESPN 300 recruits Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland), Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan) and Steven Moss (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor High).

“Obviously keeping the class was important when the season didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to ... but the in-state kids wanted to play together and build a brand together,” London said on the ESPNU signing day telecast.

While the day was quiet for Duke, it was still most the shocking signing day Durham has ever seen. The Blue Devils, coming off a 10-win season and an ACC title game, signed its first ESPN 300 recruit and four four-star recruits overall. Between 2010 and 2013, Duke signed only one four-star prospect -- a kicker.

While the ACC did not touch the SEC in the number of teams toward the top of the class rankings, for the most part the conference as a whole improved, and Florida State went a long way in challenging Alabama to become college football’s next dynasty.

Bold predictions: ACC 

February, 4, 2014
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It is becoming a bit cliché, but the saying holds true every year on the first Wednesday of February: Expect the unexpected on signing day.

With the direction signing day and recruiting have been going, a prospect simply signing his letter of intent to the college he has been committed to for months qualifies as a mild surprise.

Here are five bold predictions for ACC signing day.


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The pressure is on for the class of 2014. The last weekend of visits is a wrap, and signing day is just two days away. For those who are 100 percent solid with their pledges, resting easy and rehearsing the national letter of intent signature is the order of the day. For those who are still second-guessing commitments, it’s pressure-packed days and sleepless nights full of family and high school coach discussions while trying to keep the remainder of the noise surrounding a decision to a minimum.

Here are five prospects in the ESPN 300 who have had second thoughts and are on flip watch as #SigningDay quickly approaches.


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ACC class rankings analysis 

January, 29, 2014
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National signing day is one week away, so this is the time of the year when schools hope to be trending up in the class rankings. As the final elite uncommitted prospects wrestle with decisions, another highly-rated recruit picking a particular school could influence others to do the same.

Momentum works both ways, and any bad news could snowball in the final few hours.


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ACC's lunchtime links

January, 27, 2014
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Didn't watch the Grammys. Can we still be friends?

Key recruiting visits -- ACC 

January, 24, 2014
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With only two weekends left until signing day, coaches are hitting the road hard during the week in hopes of convincing waffling prospects to come to their campus.

Here are the biggest visits in the ACC this weekend.

1. DE Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross)
Visiting: Florida State

It could be a long shot at this point, but it doesn't hurt to get the five-star lineman on campus this close to signing day. A good visit could push FSU toward the front.


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ESPN 300 DE Chad Thomas solid to Miami 

December, 28, 2013
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ORLANDO -- Miami defensive end commit Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington) finished his high school career with a state and national championship. Now Thomas, No. 70 in the ESPN 300, turns his attention to recruiting where recently Thomas stated that he would likely take official visits to Alabama, Florida State and LSU.

After taking an official visit to Miami, Thomas has now backtracked and said he is unsure if he will visit those schools.


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Canes DE commit Thomas to take visits 

December, 8, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- ESPN 300 defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), a Miami verbal commitment since July, ended his high school career on Saturday night with a 40-21 victory over Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles in the FHSAA class 4A state championship game.

The 6-foo-5, 240 pound defender said after the game he will likely take all five of his official visits before signing day on Feb. 5.

The No. 70 prospect in the country, who was visited by Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal this past week, said the Crimson Tide will get one of his visits next month.


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The annual Florida-Florida State game is usually one of the top games in the country. This year, with Florida’s disappointing season, the game seems to have lost some luster. Florida State, however, is fighting for a chance to make it to the BCS National Championship game in January. The Gators would like nothing more to ruin their archrival’s season, especially in front of several top recruits. Here’s a closer look at which recruits will be watching this weekend.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: The nation’s No. 1 player, Leonard Fournette, took an unofficial visit to LSU this past weekend and it looks like he liked what he saw; Saturday’s victories by ASU and Arizona could have a lasting impact on the Pac 12 recruiting race, and Alabama, Florida State and Louisville are trying to change the mind of one of Miami’s top commitments.


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Movers, shakers in updated ESPN 300

October, 29, 2013
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The Class of 2014 has had two months to show what it’s made of on the field. How are the nation’s elite prospects faring as we approach signing day? Here’s a look at the biggest names and notes from the most recent update of the ESPN 300:

The Big Movers

No. 37 Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South), ILB
Prior ranking: No. 59
The 6-foot-2, 224-pound Garrett jumped more than 20 spots in the rankings as he has added bulk to his frame, and at the same time retaining quickness and his fast-filling, downhill ability. Garrett has impact-type ability with a blend of lateral quickness, discipline and a nose for the ball.

Davion Hall
Max Olson/ESPNAthlete Davion Hall, who is committed to Baylor, jumped 30 spots in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
No. 45 Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), ATH
Prior ranking: No. 75
The 6-2, 194-pound Hall is one of the most impressive athletes in the class. He has a long, stoutly-built frame, is explosive, has physicality filling the alley at safety and very good ball skills at receiver. When he settles into one position at the next level, his upside is very high.

No. 64 Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown), RB
Prior ranking: No. 106
The Georgia commit is putting together a sensational senior campaign with more than 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns through eight games. The 5-11, 217-pound tailback continues to add strength to his compact body structure while maintaining his speed, overall athleticism and ability to bend.

No. 70 Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), DE
Prior ranking: No. 125
The Miami commit has flashed his high-ceiling ability, even though he is playing inside more than half the snaps as a senior. His combination of first-step quickness, arm length and the ability to play with low pad level sets him apart from most ends in the class.

No. 84 Rashaan Evans (Auburn Ala./Auburn), OLB
Prior ranking: No. 150
The 6-3, 217-pound Evans has filled out physically, and displays the quick-twitch burst and speed combination to be a factor off the edge. Evans has been dominant off the edge as a senior with double-digit sacks.

No. 92 Markell Pack (Purvis, Miss./Purvis), WR
Prior ranking: No. 144
The Florida State commit continues to flash the initial quickness, ability to get to top-end speed quickly, ability to play the ball in the air and elusiveness that makes the 6-2, 180-pound wideout one of the top playmakers in the class.

No. 128 Brad Kaaya (Hollywood, Calif./Chaminade College Prep)
Prior ranking: No. 171
The 6-4, 213-pound Miami commit is one the fastest rising quarterbacks in the class. Has added bulk to his tall frame, and continues to show the foot quickness, foot work and quick release that will be demanded of him at the next level.

Other Big Movers

WR Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp): From No. 99 to 49.
Texas A&M ATH commit Nick Harvey (Richmond, Texas/William B. Travis): From No. 101 to 60.
RB Joe Mixon (Berkeley, Calif./Freedom): From No. 100 to 72.
Georgia QB-DT commit Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford): From No. 157 to 94.
Oregon RB commit Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Imperial): From No. 154 to 99.
RB Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock): From No. 176 to 108.
Ole Miss S commit C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian): From No. 201 to 134.
Alabama C commit J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge): From No. 246 to 188.
Georgia DT commit Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton): From No. 266 to 201

ESPN 300 debuts
No. 89 Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westbury), WR
The 6-6, 215-pound pass catcher returned to the football field as a senior after playing only basketball as a junior, and has quickly become one of the most coveted uncommitted prospects in the country featuring deceptive initial quickness, and the high-point timing and size to win 50-50 balls in the air.

No. 287 Darrion Owens (Orange Park, Fla./Oakleaf), OLB
The 6-3, 220-pound Owens has transitioned from safety to outside linebacker as a senior without skipping a beat. Long, rangy and with edge-rush ability, the Miami commit is a top senior riser.

No. 295 Shakenneth Williams (Macon, Ga./Rutland), WR
The 6-1, 196-pound Georgia commit was a standout at Mark Richt Camp in June. Williams is blessed with straight-line speed, change-of-direction ability, strong hands and the physicality and strength to play through contact.

[+] EnlargeJoe Mixon
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTailback Joe Mixon is ranked No. 72 in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
More Who Moved Into The ESPN 300

Ohio State ATH commit Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus Hall): No. 148.
LSU DE commit Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass): No. 298.
Baylor WR commit Ishmael Zamora (Alief, Texas/Elsik): No. 245
Alabama OLB commit Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest): No. 284.
DT Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes): No. 257.
DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin): No. 292.
Minnesota RB commit Jeff Jones (Minneapolis/Washburn): No. 181.
Virginia Tech DT commit Ricky Walker (Hampton, Va./Bethel): No. 299.

Injured Reserve

David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North), QB
The Alabama commit suffered a season-ending knee injury. The 6-5, 241-pound Under Armour All-American is No. 44 after being 32nd previously.

Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech), RB
The Tennessee commit suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener, requiring a second shoulder operation in less than a year. The 6-4, 222-pound Hurd is now No. 62 after being 39th.

Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian), WR
The 6-3, 172-pound Harris hasn't played this season due to a lingering hamstring issue. The Michigan commit checks in at No. 85 after previously being 72nd.

Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), DT
The 6-6, 295-pound Shaw has been sidelined with a neck injury this season. He checks in at No. 186 after a prior ranking of 82nd.

Sharieff Rhaheed (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Central), OLB
The 6-2, 202-pound Rhaheed missed the first six games of the season before returning to the field in late October. The former LSU commit is No. 260 after being ranked 133rd previously.

Kyle Berger (Cleveland/Saint Ignatius), OLB
The Ohio State commit was sidelined his senior season with an ACL tear. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after being ranked No. 281.

Treyvon Paulk (Milton, Ga./Milton High), RB
The Tennessee running back commitment recently suffered a season-ending knee injury. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after previously being ranked No. 294.

Best ACC recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

The best head coaches are often called the closer when it comes to sealing the deal with recruits. Whether on a visit or a trip to a prospect’s home, the head coach is called upon to secure the signature.

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ACC recruiting mailbag

October, 4, 2013
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Does Florida State land an elite receiver? What are Pittsburgh's chances with Jamil Kamara? And how has Miami recruited so well of late?

All this and more in this week's ACC recruiting mailbag.

@93warchant99 asks: How many out of Malone, Rudolph and Dupre do you think FSU gets, if any?

Dowlar: It's so hard to pencil these guys into classes right now since there is a long way to go, but I could see Florida State grabbing one of these guys.

[+] EnlargeTravis Rudolph
Steve Dipaola/NikeOhio State, Alabama and Florida are in the picture to land Travis Rudolph, but don't count Florida State out.
Malone is going to be tough for them. I really think he's headed to Georgia right now, but visits and results can change things. Tennessee is a huge player for him, too. He'll visit Tennessee this weekend, already took an official to Georgia and then will finally head to Tallahassee on the weekend of Nov. 1.

Malachi Dupre is the longest shot of them all, to me. I think most people who follow recruiting realize how hard it is to get prospects from Louisiana away from LSU. And right now, the biggest competition appears to be UCLA. I would think he lands in Baton Rouge.

Travis Rudolph is the best chance of the three for you, I think. Ohio State, Alabama and Florida are absolutely in the picture, but the Seminoles have been trending up for a while now. Rudolph has taken one official so far, and that was to Columbus to see the Buckeyes.

Ross_Abbott11 asks: what is the chance that #Pitt gets Jamil Kamara?

Shanker: They still have to jump Virginia, but the Panthers should be happy with where they are at. Neither team looked good in last weekend’s game, but Pitt did pull out the win, and the Cavs’ offense was atrocious. I still think the Cavs lead here, but Pitt continues to impress Kamara. He won’t decide until January and Pitt will certainly get an official visit.

Wisconsin is potentially a team to look out for, and he recently said Penn State could be a factor now with the increase in scholarships. I still see it as a top two of Pitt and Virginia -- with the Cavs still holding the lead. There are too many ties to the UVa program to project him anywhere but Charlottesville -- for now.

@fenstythenole asks: Will Florida State get any of the five-star offensive line prospects they are in the running for?

Dowlar: Well, I don't know which rankings you're referencing, but there aren't any five-star offensive linemen FSU is in on, according to ESPN's rankings. I will assume, though, that you're probably talking about David Sharpe, Chad Mavety, Damian Prince and Roderick Johnson.

I think you can write off Sharpe now. I'm thinking he's headed to either Georgia or Florida. And Damian Prince no longer seems likely now. He'll probably end up at Maryland.

When talking about the other two, though, Florida State is in really good shape, especially with Johnson. There are a lot of factors going in the Seminoles' favor for him at the moment. Mavety is too close to call right now, but I have a feeling it is either going to be Florida State or Ohio State.

If FSU lands both of those guys, fans will have to feel really good about the incoming class up front.

@couloaksteelers asks: has Duke seen a bump in recruiting due to last year’s bowl game appearance?

Shanker: They don’t play bowl games in basketball so ... oh, this is a Duke football recruiting question?

Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe actually has taken full advantage and seized the opportunity set forth last winter when he coached Duke to a 6-7 record and an appearance in the Belk Bowl. From 2010-2013, the Blue Devils signed only one four-star prospect -- a placekicker. In the 2014 class alone, though, Duke has commitments from three four-star recruits including ESPN 300 Miami Coral Reef quarterback Nicodem Pierre. The Blue Devils have beat out the likes of NC State and UNC for a few in-state prospects as well.

Cutcliffe is also expanding Duke’s borders, breaking into Ohio for three commitments in the 2014 class. Cincinnati Sycamore linebacker Tinashe Bere and Columbus (Ohio) Bishop Hartley defensive back Alonzo Saxton committed to Duke over Big Ten offers.

@EricHoudini12 asks: FSU and UF used to whip Miami in South Florida recruiting. That has changed. Was it as simple as Al Golden?

Dowlar: No, I don't think so, but he's played a major role.

Even though Florida has made a larger impact down there this season, Florida State really hasn't and Miami has done very well. Why?

Well, take a look at your new offensive coordinator, James Coley. Miami's top-rated commitment, Joe Yearby, was once a Florida State commitment. Coley had a major, major impact there.

Move over to Booker T. Washington and guys like Chad Thomas and Nigel Bethel are Coley targets, too.

But the bottom line is there always has to be some kind of promise shown on the field. That's where Golden and his team come in to play. Sure, Miami's commitments mostly came before the win over Florida, but make no mistake about it, those pledges can be, and probably were, solidified because of it.

The short answer is that it is a lot of different moving parts pulling in the same direction at the moment. And it's working for them. Golden is helping to orchestrate it all.

Best ACC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Florida State has the top class among ACC schools right now, but that is taking the Seminoles’ entire 23-recruit class into account. The Noles don’t have the best class at every position, as some of Florida State’s top rivals are looking stronger at certain positions. Here’s a look at which ACC school has the best class by position:

Quarterback

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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

September, 9, 2013
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videoBy a large margin, the most important game with recruiting implications was in Miami over the weekend as the Hurricanes hosted the Florida Gators.

Miami was able to edge out a close, 21-16 victory, but how much will it help?

Best prospect performances


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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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