NCF On The Trail: Florida State Seminoles

Kyler Murray isn't the only high-profile Texan who will shape the future of Lone Star State recruiting, as ESPN 300 defensive backs Kris Boyd and Holton Hill will announce their decisions together Friday.

Midyear additions: Florida State

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
Eight recruits have enrolled at Florida State, according to the program's official site

Calvin Brewton, S
HT: 6-0 WT: 173
Positional Rank: No. 29 S
Stars: 4

George Campbell, ATH
HT: 6-4 WT: 190
Positional Rank: No. 1 ATH
Stars: 5
ESPN 300 (No. 7)
Under Armour All-American

Ethan Frith, OT
HT: 6-7 WT: 336
Positional Rank: No. 48 OT in 2014
Stars: 3

Derwin James, S
HT: 6-2 WT: 202
Positional Rank: No. 1 S
Stars: 5
ESPN 300 (No. 8)
Under Armour All-American

De'Andre Johnson, QB-DT
HT: 6-0 WT: 173
Positional Rank: No. 7 QB-DT
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 259)
Under Armour All-American

Jacques Patrick, RB
HT: 6-3 WT: 233
Positional Rank: No. 3 RB
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 49)
Under Armour All-American

Da'Vante Phillips, WR
HT: 6-2 WT: 202
Positional Rank: No. 6 WR
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 44)
Under Armour All-American

Josh Sweat, DE
HT: 6-5 WT: 240
Positional Rank: No. 3 DE
Stars: 5
ESPN 300 (No. 11)
Under Armour All-American

It's tough to imagine a more exhausting and stressful conclusion to a recruiting process than the one Iman Marshall orchestrated. Over the past 10 days, Marshall has taken official visits to Florida State, LSU and Michigan, as well as hosted several coaches at his home and school. But just like on the football field, the nation's No. 4 overall prospect doesn't appear to be fazed at all by what's being thrown at him.

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There are less than two weeks until national signing day, and five-star defensive end Byron Cowart is closing on his college decision. The No. 1-ranked player in the ESPN 300 had a top three of Auburn, Florida, and Florida State just last week, and now the 6-foot-3, 258-pound defensive end has dwindled his choices to two.

"I would have to say, just to be honest, Auburn and Florida are my top two schools," Cowart said. "I have to keep it professional -- I have to. Who knows, you see coaches and they go into the league, and when it’s time for you to get drafted you don’t want to have a bad name.

"A lot of guys say things that they back away from, and yeah I probably said 'yeah I like this school and I might end up coming here' but that’s probably how I was feeling at the time, but a lot of things happen and I just want people to know that I’m man enough to say 'thank you for recruiting me, but I might not go to your school.' But right now, truly, it will come down to Auburn and Florida. That’s just being honest."

That is somewhat of a surprise considering FSU coaches visited Cowart at his school on Wednesday afternoon and Cowart was scheduled to take his last visit to Florida State next weekend.

"The visit was good. It was different," Cowart said. "I haven’t had the heat put to me like that before. It’s crunch time, so they want me to come up for this last visit, but it’s like I already know what they can bring to the table, I already know what I can I get from Florida State the school. It’s just crazy, I just want to relax and get away, think and get my thoughts together, and that’s why I was like 'I don’t know if I’m going to do my last visit -- I don’t know if I’m going to go anywhere on my last visit.'

"I don’t want to make a mistake. Like my mom said, when you are rushing and you’re moving too fast sometimes you can make a mistake and go somewhere that you never even thought you would go. So I want to be in the right mind and be focused, and to know that this is the school I want to go to."

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ESPN 300 prospect Holton Hill is one of only three elite cornerbacks remaining on the board in the 2015 class, and that means coaches are doing all they can to land his commitment.

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One of the biggest success stories in the 2015 recruiting class has been Arkansas with its in-state recruits. The Razorbacks were 10-for-10 on players they had offered in Arkansas, but that changed Sunday when ESPN 300 receiver K.J. Hill backed off his pledge.

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SEFFNER, Fla. -- The new No. 1-ranked player in the ESPN 300, Byron Cowart, has had twists and turns throughout his recruitment. But with national signing day less than three weeks away, the five-star defensive end has narrowed his choices to three -- Auburn, Florida and Florida State -- and says he already has a destination in mind, but is not revealing it.

"Yes, sir, I just came up with it,” he said. "Me and my mom discussed it and we are good with our decision, so we know where we are going to go.”

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Top 10 instant-impact recruits in 2015 

January, 14, 2015
Jan 14
With signing day a few weeks away, early enrollees already on campus and the national championship game in the books, which teams are reloading with talent that can hit the field and make an immediate impact?

Here are 10 committed prospect who have the chance to contribute early and often in the 2015 season:

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Most coaches at AFCA agree an early signing period is a good thing, but when to have it will be a hot topic at Tuesday’s NCAA recruiting seminar.

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After taking just one official visit before the dead period began, it looked as though it would be difficult for No. 7 overall prospect Iman Marshall to take all five of his official visits before signing day. But the 6-foot-1, 195-pound cornerback revealed his plan Friday morning to fit four official visits into a three-week span.

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Ohio State and Oregon have different recruiting philosophies, but both have made it work on the way to an appearance in Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T.

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FSU has QB talent, but it's unproven 

January, 7, 2015
Jan 7
With Jameis Winston announcing Wednesday that he’ll enter the NFL draft, the quarterback situation at Florida State is going to go from prominence to the great unknown.

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While the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual was a forgettable one for Dalvin Cook, his freshman season as a whole will be talked about at Florida State for quite some time.

Without Cook's emergence in the second half of the season and MVP performance in the ACC championship game, the Seminoles likely would not have made the inaugural College Football Playoff in the first place.

One of the elite prospects of the 2014 class, Cook was able to get a jump-start on his college career when he enrolled at Florida State in January of last year rather than the summer, which is when most signees officially step on campus full time. Although Cook suffered a shoulder injury that cost him all of spring practice, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said it was pivotal having Cook in team meetings and learning the nuances of a complex offense. It clearly paid dividends in the fall.

Fisher hopes the next crop of early enrollees, which arrived this past weekend, can provide a similar impact. Few programs play more freshmen than Florida State, and it will certainly need a boost from its 2015 class with significant losses coming at nearly every position.

The good news is that once again Fisher's haul is an impressive one, and the Seminoles' top four commitments are all on campus. Five-star defensive end Josh Sweat, five-star and No. 1 athlete George Campbell, No. 1 safety Derwin James and No. 3 running back Jacques Patrick highlight the Seminoles' No. 2-ranked class Insider, and they're all on campus.

Sweat, No. 5 in the ESPN 300, suffered a torn ACL during his senior season, but he'll now be able to rehab with the Florida State staff. While it's unlikely he will participate in spring practice, the weakside defensive end should be ready in the fall and can provide an immediate pass rush on third down. The Seminoles struggled all season to consistently rush the passer.

With the loss of Nick O'Leary and Rashad Greene, FSU's career leader in receptions, the Seminoles have a significant void to fill at receiver. Campbell, ranked No. 10 nationally, was a 6-foot-4, 190-pound athlete rather than a receiver initially, but reviews from his senior season and Under Armour All-America Game practices suggest Campbell's hands have improved significantly.

"There has not been a 6-foot-4 vertical receiving threat in the Under Armour All-America Game who runs as well as George Campbell since A.J. Green in 2008," Tom Luginbill,'s senior national recruiting analyst, wrote last week. "The knock on Campbell has been consistent ball skills, but all he did was pluck the ball nicely and take the top off the defense. Campbell falls out of bed in the morning and runs a sub-4.4 40-second dash, and he will be a nice complement to the more physical, stoutly built Da'Vante Phillips."

The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Phillips, No. 58 in the ESPN 300, is also enrolled early. He comes from Miami Central High School, the alma mater of Cook.

Patrick will provide a bigger complement to Cook and Mario Pender in the backfield. Patrick is 6-foot-3 and 233 pounds, so he could immediately see time in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Although Florida State failed to effectively run the ball at times this season, the Seminoles performed well in short yardage with the senior Karlos Williams. Patrick might fill that role.

Then there is James, the top-ranked safety and a player who has impressed evaluators at every camp, combine, practice and all-star event. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound James has been committed to Florida State for nearly three years, and his loyalty could be rewarded with early playing time. Luginbill labeled James "The Punisher" for his physicality and speed. Luginbill called James a "headhunter," and fellow recruiting analyst Craig Haubert said the NFL coaches at the Under Armour All-America Game practices could see James turning into an elite linebacker. The Seminoles are in need of an upgrade at linebacker.

Eighth-ranked dual-threat quarterback De'Andre Johnson is also on campus as well as four-star safety Calvin Brewton.

Now that Randy Shannon has been officially announced as a part of the Florida coaching staff, the expectations for success in South Florida are high for the Gators.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Some of the top underclassmen in the country gathered for the debut of the Under Armour Elite 50 combine on Friday morning. The group included many of the top 50 prospects in the ESPN Junior 300 and a few 2017 prospects such as LSU commit Dylan Moses and uncommitted wide receiver DeAngelo Gibbs. Even 2018 prospect Tyreke Johnson, who has multiple scholarship offers, attended the event.

There were several standout performances throughout the morning practice and several top plays were caught on social media. Here’s a look at the sites and sounds from the Under Armour Elite 50 combine.

Georgia offensive tackle commit Ben Cleveland squared off against Penn State commit Shane Simmons.

All four quarterbacks in attendance -- Shea Patterson, Malik Henry (FSU), Dwayne Haskins and Jacob Eason (Georgia) -- looked incredible. It was obvious to see why all four are so highly ranked. Here’s a highlight from each signal-caller.

Defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence went against Baylor commit Patrick Hudson in one-on-one drills.

Defensive back Saivion Smith matched up against wide receiver Dredrick Snelson. Smith had good coverage but Snelson one this particular battle.

Alabama wide receiver commit Demetris Robertson was one of the top receivers today. Robertson had multiple deep catches and the defensive backs had a hard time matching up with the speedy wideout.

Two top running backs for the next two years, Kareem Walker and Dylan Moses doing some individual drills.

Defensive end Marlon Davidson and 2017 OT Calvin Ashley hanging out in between drills.