NCF On The Trail: Florida State Seminoles

ESPN 300: Top ACC targets 

April, 16, 2014
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With Wednesday’s release of the 2015 ESPN 300, here’s a look at five top ACC targets in the 2015 class.


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video Kerryon Johnson, the No. 26 player in the ESPN Junior 300, committed to the Auburn Tigers on Tuesday over Florida State and Alabama. Here’s what his pledge means:


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Florida State already has one of the best 2015 classes in the nation, but after a key prospect says he's ready to commit, it's about to get even better. South Carolina quarterback prospect Kelly Bryant continues to be a hot target with recruiters this spring, but Bryant says only five schools are on the top of his list.


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Year in and year out, the “big three” Florida schools always battle for the top in-state high school prospects. Last year was one of the wildest in recent memory for Florida, Florida State and Miami.

The Gators were able to land commitments from three prospects -- Ryan Sousa, C.J. Worton and J.C. Jackson -- who were previously committed to Florida State. The Noles responded by flipping Florida commitments Ermon Lane and Dalvin Cook. Miami was able to flip former FSU running back commit Joseph Yearby and Florida defensive tackle commit Anthony Moten. The Gators then flipped athlete Brandon Powell the day he was supposed to enroll at Miami.


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For the second straight recruiting class, more than 100 players from junior colleges signed with schools from the power five conferences. And for the second straight class, Florida State contributed to that number.

Of course, that’s nothing new for Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher. He has signed a junior college player every recruiting cycle since he was named coach in 2010, and that will be extended again in 2015.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsFSU coach Jimbo Fisher has had success with junior college prospects.
A decade ago, some programs were unwilling to recruit junior college players. (One assistant coach told ESPN that his head coach once characterized junior college players as “nothing but thugs, criminals and dummies.”) But recruiting junior college players is a must for nearly every FBS program now.

“Those guys are making an impact,” Fisher said, “… and we’ve had some pretty good success with our guys here lately.”

That’s a slight understatement from Fisher. Former Noles Menelik Watson and Cornellius Carradine were both second-round selections in the 2013 NFL draft, and Fisher could have another player from the juco ranks taken high in the draft in the coming years. Last week, Fisher said Kareem Are, who enrolled in January out of Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, is the surprise of spring practice.

Are has only participated in half of Florida State’s practices, but he has seen significant time with the first-team offense at left guard as the Noles battle some injuries and experiment with varying lineups along the offensive line. Senior Cameron Erving has been alongside Are for much of those drills working at left tackle and even some center. Erving said there is a different level of maturity with Are and junior college players in general.

“For the most part the guys we’ve had here that transferred from juco, they’ve come with a different focus,” Erving said. “They were hungry and always felt like they had something to prove. Those guys have always played hard from what I’ve seen, seeing Menelik, seeing Kareem come from juco, seeing guys like [senior Desmond Hollin].

Troy Morrell has coached Butler (Kan.) Community College to three national championships in his 15 seasons as coach. He said junior college recruits are better prepared physically and academically than they were even just a few years ago. Watson declared for the NFL after just one season at Florida State. Coaches are constantly looking for ways to improve their team, and the junior college ranks have a number of able bodies that can contribute immediately.

“They’re going to maybe be more prepared in the classroom. That gives the schools a little more freedom to be able to recruit a junior college kid that maybe they haven’t been able to before,” Morrell said.

“And there’s a tremendous amount of pressure for those big schools to win.”

Getting to know Shy Tuttle 

April, 3, 2014
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Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

LEXINGTON, N.C. -- When going down the list of the most productive players in the Class of 2015, defensive tackle Shy Tuttle might be at the top.

In three varsity seasons, Tuttle, No. 12 in the ESPN Junior 300, has more than 230 tackles, including over 50 tackles for loss and more than 30 sacks.
According to North Davidson head coach Mark Holcomb, there are more reasons for his success than just raw talent.

“He is stronger and quicker than the kids he’s lined up against, so he’s able to push kids on this level around,” Holcomb said. “But he plays hard, runs to the ball, and effort is something you can’t coach, and he came here with that. He plays hard, lifts hard and just does things the right way.”


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IMG Southeast Regional notebook 

March, 31, 2014
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- South Florida has always been known for producing top talent and elite seven-on-seven teams but it was two teams from Jacksonville (Fla.) that battled in the finals of the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional Championships on Sunday.

The Pro Impact team, led by LSU commit and the No. 3-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300 Kevin Toliver II and defensive back Derwin James Jr., a Florida State commit, upset River City, which featured FSU quarterback commit De’Andre Johnson and South Carolina commit Sherrod Pittman, 23-14.


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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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South Florida is arguably the most fertile area in the country for recruiting, and college football coaches annually flock to the talent-rich area to try to land a small piece of a very large pie. The large area located south of Lake Okeechobee that includes the football hotbeds of Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties has produced 45 ESPN 300 members in the last two recruiting cycles and almost half (22) signed with out-of-state schools.


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Getting to know Taj Griffin 

March, 27, 2014
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ROSWELL, Ga. -- When listing the most explosive prospects in the Class of 2015, it does not take long to call on Taj Griffin.

The 5-foot-10, 174-pound, versatile running back was one of the standouts at last weekend's Atlanta Nike Nike Football Training Camp and SPARQ combine, earning an invitation to the The Opening in early July.


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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

MIAMI -- South Florida has always been a recruiting hot bed and this year is no different. Out-of-state schools will flock to the talent-rich area to try and land some of the top prospects in the country. Prospects like ESPN Junior 300 defensive back Tarvarus McFadden and his teammate Torrance Gibson are two of the highly-ranked recruits that are getting that attention in this class.

McFadden, the No. 58-ranked player in the country, is considering the big in-state schools -- Florida, Florida State and Miami -- and handful of out-of-state schools like Ohio State, USC, LSU, Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee.


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ALBANY, Ga. -- The recruitment of defensive tackle Trenton Thompson continues to take shape. The No. 5-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 has been sitting on offers from nearly every top program in the nation for over a year now, and while once thought to be an early pledge for home-state Georgia, his recruitment has slowed down a bit with the rush of the spring evaluation period around the corner.

While the Bulldogs remain the team to beat at this point, there is stiff competition coming from the region's best. On Wednesday, the 6-foot-3, 311-pound Thompson gave the latest, which includes his top five.


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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For most highly-rated defensive line prospects coming out of high school, the word "technique" is rarely used. Not because the prospects don’t want to learn, but because proper technique is something that is seldom taught or even required at the high school level. Top defensive line prospects generally rely on brute strength or superior speed to beat the offensive linemen they face. But for ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Byron Cowart, who is the No. 68-ranked prospect in the country, technique has been his sole focus during the offseason.


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Orlando/Miami NFTC awards 

March, 17, 2014
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Florida prospects had a big opportunity to shine this past weekend with a pair of NFTC events taking place in the state. The packed weekend kicked off on Saturday in the Orlando area with a talented group that included two top-10 ESPN Junior 300 prospects. The action moved south Sunday for the Miami NFTC, which featured a strong group of skilled prospects. There were many good performances throughout the weekend, and here are the Recruiting Nation NFTC Awards highlighting some the top and most notable performers.


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Orlando/Miami NFTC notebook 

March, 16, 2014
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The Florida leg of the Nike Football Training Camp series didn’t disappoint. Top prospects from all over the Sunshine State made their way to Orlando (Fla.) and Miami to take part in the ultra-competiive camp. An incredible 11 prospects from the Orlando NFTC were invited to The Opening, an elite camp and 7-on-7 tournament held in early July at the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. Here’s a closer look at the top news from over the weekend.

Orlando NFTC/Elite 11


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