Texas Longhorns: Florida State Seminoles

Birmingham NFTC notebook 

March, 30, 2014
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HOOVER, Ala. -- The state of Alabama is home to four of the last five national championships, and there was no shortage of talent on hand Sunday as the Nike Football Training Camp made a stop in the Yellowhammer State. By the end of the day, seven players from four different states earned their invite to The Opening.

New offers pique Payne’s interest

The top-ranked player at the event was defensive tackle Daron Payne, a local product, ranked No. 23 overall in the ESPN 300. He didn’t make the list of players invited to The Opening, but based on the media coverage, he was still the center of attention, both on and off the field.


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Top position classes: LB 

February, 17, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best linebacker class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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Early Offer: 2015 begins now 

February, 7, 2014
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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 ink was barely dry on the letters of intent for 2014 class when one of the best for the 2015 class came off the board; and what schools and recruiters have jumped out of the gate with success with players that won’t sign for another 360-plus days.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s Early Offering is coming to you from the Under Armour Combine in St. Petersburg, Fla. Here’s a look at who stood out among the 150-plus competitors.

Campbell steals the show
George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) showed why he is ranked as the No. 2 player in the ESPN Junior 300. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Campbell tested off the charts with a 4.36-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 4.06 shuttle. He then backed it up with a strong performance in the one-on-one and seven-on-seven portion of the combine. Defensive backs lined up to face him and, in most cases, he burned them with either his speed or his ability to go up get the ball at its highest point. “I felt good about what I did today,” Campbell said. “I wanted to test myself against the best-of-the-best.” Consider the test passed. On the recruiting front, Campbell recently backed away from his commitment to Michigan and said at Wednesday’s registration he’s slowing down the process.

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Florida State announced Tuesday that Jimbo Fisher has signed a new contract that might keep him coaching the Seminoles through the 2018 season.

But until FSU releases details of the new contract, which is expected to raise Fisher’s salary from $2.75 million to about $4 million annually, we won’t know whether he’s officially off the market for other vacancies.

FSU officials aren’t expected to release details of Fisher’s contract until early next week, presumably after the No. 1 Seminoles play No. 2 Auburn in Monday night’s Vizio BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsJimbo Fisher still could be in play for the job opening at Texas.
Then we’ll know the details of the fine print in Fisher’s new contract, most importantly what he would have to pay to leave Florida State for another school.

Fisher, who guided the Seminoles to a 13-0 record this season, is considered among the top targets at Texas, which is searching for Mack Brown’s replacement.

Fisher might not be ready to leave Florida State anytime soon. He and his coaching staff have stockpiled talent in Tallahassee, so much so that the Seminoles will be a popular choice as the No. 1 team in preseason polls heading into 2014.

The Seminoles will return a boatload of talent, including reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. But Winston figures to play only one more season in college before leaving for the NFL draft, so Fisher will have to consider his long-term future if the Longhorns indeed want him.

Fisher is smart enough to know that jobs like the one at Texas don’t come open very often. If the Longhorns really want him, they’ll be prepared to pay whatever it takes to buy him out of his contract with the Seminoles and make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. And Florida State probably isn’t in a financial position to get into a bidding war with Texas for Fisher, who has a 44-10 record in four seasons with the Seminoles. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the Longhorns’ bank account.

Fisher, 48, seems like the perfect fit for the Longhorns. Texas initially wanted Alabama coach Nick Saban, who wouldn’t leave the Crimson Tide, and Fisher has been the most successful Saban protégé. Just as importantly, Fisher has experience replacing a popular coach; he succeeded legendary Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden at a time when FSU’s fan base was divided. He didn’t need long to unite it.

When Fisher became FSU’s coach before the 2010 season, the Seminoles had fallen way behind rival Florida, which won two BCS national championships under former coach Urban Meyer. It didn’t take Fisher very long to catch the Gators and then surpass them.

Whoever replaces Brown at Texas will face a similar predicament. The Longhorns are the state’s flagship team, but they’ve limped through four straight mediocre seasons since losing to Alabama 37-21 in the 2010 BCS title game. UT has fallen behind not only longtime nemesis Texas A&M but even former cellar dweller Baylor in the Big 12.

UT athletic director Steve Patterson told reporters in San Antonio on Monday night that he hopes to have a new coach in place by Jan. 15. The UT search has been very quiet since Brown announced his retirement earlier this month, so we can assume the Longhorns have identified their candidates and are waiting for their current teams’ seasons to end.

Among the other coaches reportedly on Texas’ radar: Baylor’s Art Briles, Louisville’s Charlie Strong and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin. If Fisher isn’t interested, Briles would seem to make the most sense -- if he’s willing to leave the Bears.

Briles, who also recently agreed to a new contract with his current school, is a former Texas high school coach who knows the state well. His connections in the state might make it easier for the Longhorns to upgrade their talent quickly.

But, if UT officials decide Fisher is the coach who can get them back to the top, the Longhorns will make it very difficult for him to turn them down.

Manziel or Winston? Prospects weigh in

December, 29, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are many topics of conversation among prospects playing in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. One of them centers around the past two Heisman Trophy winners.

On Saturday, upon checking in for the prestigious game, a number of prospects weighed in on a hot topic involving Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Florida State's Jameis Winston.

If they had to choose between the two, who would the players take as their college quarterback? Here are their responses:

[+] EnlargeMarlon Humphrey
Courtesy of IntersportNo. 9 overall prospect Marlon Humphrey likes how Johnny Manziel makes others around him better.
Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Al./Hoover High): Ah man, I think I’m going to have to go with Johnny Manziel. I just feel like he kind of made a team out of nothing. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but he doesn’t have the scrambling skills that Manziel has. This year, you could tell that his teams defense wasn’t that good, the players around him weren’t as good, but he kept making his team better. He’s has the fight in him I would want on my team.

Florida commit and No. 20-ranked Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central High): I would say Jameis Winston. He’s really a pure quarterback, and I think he sets up things more for a running back than Johnny Manziel does.

Auburn running back commit Racean Thomas (Oxford, Al./Oxford High): I would probably pick Jameis Winston. The reason behind that is because he is more of a leader for a young quarterback, and I think he can make his team a more mature team. I really think he would be a great quarterback to play with.

Florida wide receiver commit and No. 28 Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior High): Whew, I don’t know. I think Jameis Winston. I look at how both of them played as a freshman, and I like how Jameis Winston leads his team. He is also more pro-ready than Manziel.

Texas defensive end commit and No. 78-overall Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/William J. Brennan High): I guess I would say Johnny Manziel. I like how he plays with his swagger and confidence the most, so I would probably say him.

Notre Dame commit and No. 76-ranked Tyler Luatua (la Mirada, Calif./La Mirada High): I would take Manziel just because of the way he plays. If he doesn’t have a wide receiver open, he can make plays himself. He can get the ball to his players if and when he wants to, but can also do it on his own when he needs to.

No. 38 overall John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic High School): That’s a hard one. As of right now, I would go with Jameis Winston. Overall, he’s a great player. I think Winston has an awesome football IQ. Johnny had his year too, but I think Winston is just a great player. Outstanding.

Dylan Sumner-Gardner: Jameis Winston, man. I feel comfortable with Jameis Winston as my quarterback because he’s smart and accurate. Johnny is accurate too, but Johnny is Johnny. How he runs around, people may get nervous. I would just feel more comfortable with Jameis as my quarterback.

No. 22 overall Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville High): That’s a hard one right there. Let me think ... maybe Johnny Manziel because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white boy get down like that. It would have to be Johnny Manziel.

Penn State wide receiver commit Chris Godwin (Middletown, De./Middletown High): I think Jameis Winston. I think overall he’s a better passer. I want a quarterback back there that can get me the ball on a consistent basis, but Johnny Manziel is a great player, too. I’m actually a big fan of both of them.

Five-star and Virginia defensive tackle commit Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, VA
Oscar Frommel Smith High)
: Dang, that’s a good question, man. I would go with Jameis Winston. His leadership qualities, coming in as a freshman and doing the things he is doing is definitely uncommon. It just foreshadows what he is going to do in the future, too. He’s already established a great foundation for himself, and I would definitely take him in the future.

Maryland commit Will Ulmer (Washington, D.C./Saint John’s High): I’m going with Johnny Manziel. I think he’s more dynamic, and more of a game-changer. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but you have to think about all the dudes he has around him at FSU -- all the great receivers and good running backs. I would go with Manziel because if you put him on the Florida State team, or a stacked team like that, it would be a scary sight.

3-point stance: Confusing end for Mack

December, 16, 2013
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1. Mack Brown conducted his retirement press conference at the University of Texas on Sunday with the same charm and straightforwardness that he conducted so many of his big-stage moments. Brown said he began this season convinced that the Longhorns would return to national prominence. So did a lot of writers. It doesn’t surprise me that the writers had no inkling that the Longhorns wouldn’t be able to stop anyone. But Brown sounded just as surprised as the rest of us that his team stumbled. That’s a head-scratcher.

2. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, trying to explain what sets apart his Heisman trophy winner, quarterback Jameis Winston, from other redshirt freshmen. “He throws a touchdown, he has to understand why he did it so he can repeat it. … He always wanted to know why he had success, or why he had failure, so he could repeat it or fix it. And that’s very rare in a young player.”

3. Will Texas thrive under a new head coach? The cautionary tale is Tennessee, which forced out Phillip Fulmer, a future Hall of Famer, five years ago. Since then, the Volunteers have floundered under three head coaches (cumulative record: 28-34. Then there’s Army, which fired Rich Ellerson on Sunday after a 12th consecutive loss to archrival Navy. Ellerson is the third Black Knights head coach to be relieved of his duty without beating the Midshipmen. Army never should have run off Bob Sutton, now the Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator.

Early Offer: All eyes on Austin 

December, 16, 2013
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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: Texas doesn’t need to rush to make a hire, but it also can’t take forever; five-star running back Dalvin Cook says he’s 100 percent committed to Florida but will make a final decision in little more than two weeks; and Kansas State and Texas Tech added several big pieces this weekend from the junior college ranks.


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3-point stance: Heisman secrecy

December, 12, 2013
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1. The Heisman Trust dictated that when we voted this year, we pledge not to reveal it to the media or our spouses or our bartenders. To which I say, control freak who? All right, have it your way. I read the police report regarding Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, and I didn’t like what I read about him. But I sighed, held my nose and cast my vote, and the guy I voted for is going to win. Whoever that might be.

2. The secrecy pledge is a study in chutzpah, asking media members that do nothing but beat the drum for the Heisman 12 months a year not to talk about their individual vote. The Heisman people also just shoved the pledge under the voter’s nose as he/she cast the electronic ballot: sign this or else, pal. That’s what bullies do. Oh yeah, my second-place vote went to a tattooed quarterback who didn’t win a third national championship this year. And if you led the FBS in rushing, I might have voted you third.

3. I have tried very hard not to get sucked into the Nick-Saban-to-Texas vortex, because I think it’s a case of Texas people saying what they want to hear, combined with Saban’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, roiling the waters on behalf of his client. And did Texas really say that they want to hire a head coach who has won a Super Bowl or a BCS title? If nothing else, that shows a lack of imagination. How many coaches who have won either had done so before that team/school hired them? One: Saban.
Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin Derham-Hall), the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2015, has narrowed his top list. After much deliberation, Cornell has cut the list of schools in the running down to 15.

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Programs off to fast start in 2015 

November, 19, 2013
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While recruiting is undoubtedly a marathon and not a sprint, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with a good start.

The key for any program is being able to sustain and finish strong, and only time will tell which programs will be able to do that, but what we do know is which teams are off to a fast start in the Class of 2015. Below are the five programs that are leading the pack early for 2015, as well as a few other notable fast starters:


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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 Red River Rivalry always has recruiting implications, and this year’s game is no exception; Texas’ loss could end up being Arkansas’ gain; and one of the nation’s best offensive tackles will take trips to Florida and Florida State.


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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: Texas not making the top four for 2015 star Daylon Mack is an interesting -- and troubling -- development; the top player in Texas is scheduled to announce next week and everything is looking good for the Aggies; and Washington adds a four-star lineman, which could help give the Huskies recruiting momentum before Oregon comes to town.


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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: Oklahoma hopes its talent pipeline to California hasn’t dried up, ESPN 2 and ESPNU have Friday night broadcasts that feature around 10 ESPN 300 prospects; and even without a head coach USC remains active on the recruiting trail.

#WeekendoftheWest
Bob Stoops has never shied away from bringing in prospects for game weekends, and Saturday’s Big 12 Conference matchup against TCU is another opportunity for the Sooners to impress. Five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), four-star running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), four-star linebacker Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra), four-star athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./East), four-star receiver Dallis Todd and four-star defensive tackle Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) will be in town for official visits. The Sooners have had a lot of success out West in the past and hope to keep their Golden State pipeline open. “California is right there with Oklahoma and Texas as far as importance to us,” one Sooner insider said. “We believe we can go into California and compete with Pac-12 schools because we have a lot to offer, and we have been quite successful attracting talented players to come to OU.” The Sooners currently have nine California players on its roster, including impact players like running back Brennan Clay, receiver Jalen Saunders and running back Damien Williams.

Brown addresses Winston recruitment

September, 4, 2013
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Texas head coach Mack Brown joined the ESPNU College Football podcast Wednesday, and explained why the Longhorns didn't recruit Florida State QB Jameis Winston:
"There was a season where the Longhorns were 5-7 and had a lot of staff turnover and it was hard to recruit out of state guys and that’s what happened with Winston … a guy he trusted didn’t think they had a chance so they moved on. You can’t get every player you want and you learned to deal with it."

Brown discussed other topics with Matt Barrie and Ivan Maisel on the podcast. Click here to listen to the rest of the interview.

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