Florida State Seminoles: Jamil Kamara

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.

Army Bowl notebook: Dec. 31 

December, 31, 2013
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SAN ANTONIO -- The second day of practice for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl -- on the last day of 2013 -- has come to a conclusion. Here is Tuesday’s notebook featuring some of the nation’s elite athletes:

LB Williams: Law and order equals '98 percent'

ACC recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
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The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it, so too is national signing day.

ACC programs are scrambling to firm up their commitment lists and add to them as well. Here are a few top storylines for the conference:


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ACC signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
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Signing day and Feb. 5 still might feel far away (50 days away to be exact), but for coaches the sense of urgency has officially set in. The offseason dead period was extended and began Sunday. It will last a month into mid-January, leaving coaches with only a few weekends left to host recruits on campus visits and meet prospects and their families inside their homes.

So with signing day closer than it appears in college football’s mirrors, here are 10 storylines in the ACC to watch between now and Feb. 5.

1. Who will sign the ACC’s top class?


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Most important targets: ACC 

December, 10, 2013
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A look at the most important recruiting targets remaining for each school in the ACC:

Boston College
DE Harold Landry (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest)
6-foot-3, 230 pounds
Four stars

Boston College is close to done for 2014, and coach Steve Addazio is looking toward taking the next big recruiting jump with the 2015 class. However, the Eagles' 2014 class would be dealt a devastating blow if he cannot hold on to Landry, No. 30 among defensive ends nationally and the second-highest-rated commit in BC's class. Reports in mid-October had Landry decommitting from the Eagles, but it was only for a short while. He made amends with the staff quickly and rejoined BC. But now coaches are coming through schools and homes, so BC will have its work cut out once again.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

December, 2, 2013
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Florida State and Duke emerged as champions in their respective divisions and are headed to Charlotte for the conference crown. But in the meantime, here are the latest happenings off the field for ACC teams hoping to restock their rosters this February.

Biggest offer: Virginia Tech went to Tennessee looking for a little help at tight end in the 2015 class. Jackson Harris (Columbia, Tenn./Columbia Central), a 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end, landed an offer from the Hokies, but it certainly wasn't his first. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt have already offered Harris.


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ACC class rankings analysis 

November, 13, 2013
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The recruiting rankings have not seen much shifting since the start of the season, but that could change soon. A few decommitments and official visitors could benefit the ACC in the coming weeks. Here’s a look at how things are shaping up among ACC classes this week:

Trending up: Pittsburgh hosted several of its top targets in the season opener against Florida State and the Panthers were promptly blown out. But some of those prospects returned this weekend and watched the Panthers upset Notre Dame in one of the better atmospheres for a Pitt game since the program moved its games to Heinz Field. ESPN 300 prospects Alex Bookser, Montae Nicholson and Adonis Jennings were in attendance, and Jennings parted ways with Rutgers following the trip. Dravon Henry, the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania, was at West Virginia but he is a Pitt legacy. And out-of-state receiver Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan), No. 269 in the ESPN 300, watched on TV and said he sees a bright future for Pitt.

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Questions for signing day: ACC 

November, 12, 2013
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It is a chicken or the egg argument. Has the SEC ruled college football for much of the last decade because the conference annually places five or more teams among the top 10 of the recruiting rankings? Or is the SEC’s recruiting dominance a result of seven straight national championships?

The ACC, though, could be the David to the SEC on the field and in recruiting. In the 2014 cycle, two ACC schools have top-five classes. Will that remain the same come signing day?

We look at that question and nine others as we examine the most pressing ACC recruiting questions leading up to signing day.

1. Will FSU and Miami remain in the top five of the class rankings?
Both classes are close to completion, so it could be tough for the Noles and Canes to finish in the top five of the rankings. Alabama is at No. 1 and could end up running away with another recruiting title. The rest of the SEC will charge hard come signing day, too. Tennessee should be a safe bet to finish in the top five, and programs such as Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and more could break into the exclusive group come February. Tennessee recently jumped both schools, pushing Florida State to No. 3 and Miami to No. 4.

2. Can Miami surpass Florida State for the ACC’s top class?
If both were to fall out of the top five, there is still some pride in finishing with the top class in the conference. The Noles are ahead of the Canes at the moment, and it will be tough for the Canes to jump FSU. It looks as if Miami has two spots left and should finish with Johnnie Dixon and Anthony Moten. But the Noles could sign more than 30, and some of the country’s truly elite prospects have Florida State among their finalists. It looks doubtful that Miami -- or any ACC team -- will catch and pass Jimbo Fisher’s class.

[+] EnlargeLorenzo Featherston
Courtesy of IntersportESPN 300 DE Lorenzo Featherston is a Clemson lean whose pledge would help the Tigers close strong.
3. Will Clemson finish in the top 10?
Sitting at No. 12 in the rankings, the Tigers have a good chance to finish in the top 10 and even an outside chance to crack the top seven. Defensive end Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page) is No. 27 in the ESPN 300 and a Clemson lean. It would be a surprise to see him land anywhere but with the Tigers. Cornerback D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga./Walton), No. 88 in the ESPN 300, also looks to be leaning Clemson’s way, and the same could be said for defensive end Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Christian Landing), No. 168 in the rankings. The prize of the defensive class would be five-star inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan, however. He is slated to visit officially later this month, and the No. 12 player and top linebacker in 2014 has the Tigers among his top three.

4. Can Pitt close out with three of its four Western Pennsylvania targets?
For Pitt’s class to be considered a success, Paul Chryst needs to do just that. The Panthers are struggling some with Pittsburgh-area prospects in 2014, but the same happened in 2013 before Pitt landed Dorian Johnson and Tyler Boyd. In February, the Panthers hope to land Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon), Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa./Washington); Henry, Bookser and Nicholson are all in the ESPN 300 and have Pitt among their finalists. Henry is a Pitt legacy. Bookser looks to be focused on Ohio State and Pitt; Nicholson will decide in December and is projected to Pitt.

5. Will Duke sign an ESPN 300 prospect?
The Blue Devils have never signed an ESPN 150 or ESPN 300 prospect since the rankings began almost a decade ago. That was going to change in 2014 with quarterback Nicodem Pierre (Miami/Coral Reef), but the dual-threat dropped from the ESPN 300 in October. However, Trevon Lee (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) could be leaning Duke’s way with the Blue Devils on a roll this season. With a guaranteed winning regular season -- their first in nearly two decades -- Lee is thinking hard about Duke. Academics are big for the 241st-ranked player, so a decision could come down to Duke and Vanderbilt.


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Most important targets: ACC 

October, 22, 2013
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A look at the most important recruiting targets remaining for each school in the ACC:

Boston College

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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 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That is what college coaches must do when it comes to recruiting. Every coach would love to land their top target at every position, but coaches are forced to play the what-ifs and continue to recruit prospects lower on the recruiting board. With signing day a few months away and several classes close to completion, college staffs are pushing for those few final targets but also keeping a watchful eye on players down the board.

Here are the best- and worst-case scenarios for each of the ACC schools.


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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.

Top ACC recruiting rivalries 

October, 1, 2013
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Rivalries extend past the field in college football. The bad blood and feud seeps into the fans, the coaching staffs and especially in the high schools when it comes to top recruits. Often the teams duking it out on Saturdays were going head-to-head in February for several of the players on the field.

The ACC might not be on the same level as the SEC when it comes to recruiting rivalries, but the conference has its fair share, including one of the nation’s most intense.

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ACC class rankings analysis 

September, 25, 2013
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Another week passes without movement among the ACC schools in the class rankings. A commitment from three-star Ryan Izzo (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII) was not enough to launch Florida State past Alabama and back into the No. 1 spot. With Izzo’s pledge out of the way, it does not appear any conference school is on the verge of a commitment any time soon.


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ACC recruiting mailbag

September, 20, 2013
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In this week's mailbag, ACC recruiting writers Jared Shanker and Corey Dowlar address a bunch of questions submitted on Twitter.

Florida State, Miami, North Carolina and the ACC newcomers are all covered here.

@jgreco33 asks: Is Miami QB Brad Kaaya a solid lock, and can he come in and play right away? Also, did his mom really play in the movie Friday?

Dowlar: Well, unless San Diego State can somehow unseat Miami for him, I think he's headed to Coral Gables. There isn't a ton of local competition for Kaaya, and Miami has a program of prestige, so on that front, I think the Hurricanes are OK.

He might be able to get into that conversation right away, but I see Kevin Olsen as the future of that offense. Olsen has got a lot of talent and a good arm. I would be surprised if he's not the guy going forward.

As for his mom, a quick search would suggest that she is. I don't know for sure, though, so don't quote me on that.




@ShaneArrington1 asks: Who is the most underrated recruit that could be a huge get for the Noles?

Dowlar: To me, I think this one is obvious from looking at the commitment list.

Ethan Frith is considered a three-star talent by most. And judging from his junior year, that's probably about right. But after seeing him in camp, some 20 or 30 pounds lighter, FSU is going to have a monster offensive tackle to work with.

Trickett absolutely loved him when working with him over the summer. He's a guy who has his weight under control now and can be built up properly. And, oh yeah, he's huge at 6-foot-7.

As far as uncommitted targets who could fit here, two come to mind, really. Frank Ragnow, the offensive tackle out of Minnesota, and Ryan Izzo, the tight end who just visited last weekend, are good looking, physical prospects.




@baxterfsu1 asks: Has joining the ACC helped recruiting for Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville?

Shanker: It can't be pinpointed to just moving to the ACC, but it is clear the impending switch for Louisville is having quite the impact on the Cards' recruiting efforts. The 2013 class finished No. 43 in the country. In 2014, Louisville sits at No. 18 and has five ESPN 300 commitments. For the Cards and Charlie Strong, there is no more answering questions to recruits about the future of the program and whether Louisville is going to be able to compete for national titles. Playing in the Conference Formerly Known as the Big East could have kept Louisville out of the future playoffs.

The Sugar Bowl win against Florida went a long way, too. Let's not forget that.

As for Pittsburgh and Syracuse, I'm not sure the move has paid big dividends yet or if it will at all. The Panthers are recruiting Virginia a lot more and have a shot at ESPN 300 receiver Jamil Kamara. As of now, however, the impact has been minimal. The same can be said for Syracuse. Now, if the Panthers land Kamara or the Orange reel in Thomas Holley, I might change my tune some.




@t_pope10 asks: other than Elijah Hood who is UNC next big recruit? I think Caleb Henderson, and do you think he will start next year?

Shanker: Assuming you mean just UNC commitments, then I would agree it is Henderson. It can still be argued he is the biggest recruit in the 2014 class for the Tar Heels strictly based on the position he plays. With Bryn Renner set to graduate, there is an opportunity to play early next season. However, UNC also has freshman quarterback Mitch Trubisky, an ESPN 300 QB in 2013 who enrolled in January. Trubisky will have two spring practices and a full season uinder his belt heading into the 2014 season. Clearly Henderson has an opportunity to play early, but there is a lot he will need to do to see the field next year as a freshman.




@oalege87 asks: Why does it seem like FSU is lagging behind Florida and Miami for the big names in the state for 2014 and 2015?

Dowlar: I honestly think you could point to the coaching changes of last offseason as the main reason here. Florida State had to replace the majority of their assistants, and that's a lot of relationships to restart.

But I also think it's not insurmountable. If you look at the direction the teams are headed -- and it is obviously early -- Florida State has been the most impressive team of the three. If Jameis Winston continues to play well and the Seminoles have a good year, they'll make that ground up pretty easily.

Yes, I know Miami fans, that was a good win over Florida. But that wasn't necessarily aesthetically pleasing. I think you'll agree with that.

It will, however, be increasingly more difficult for the Seminoles to go into Miami and grab recruits out of there if Miami has a strong season. But the trend of Florida State's targeting seems to be more along the lines of Interstate 10 from Jacksonville to Alabama.

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