Florida State Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Bob Ferrante@@bobferranteContributor IMay 19, 2014

Florida State Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

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    Florida State has just 10 verbal commitments for the 2015 class, but the total should jump significantly in the next few months.

    Derwin James of Haines City Senior is the top prospect, a consensus 5-star safety. For FSU, the rich get richer. The Seminoles have loaded up on talented defensive backs, and Jimbo Fisher landed 5-star Jalen Ramsey and unheralded Nate Andrews in 2013. Both became starters on the national championship team.

    Some FSU fans have wondered why the Seminoles have just 10 verbal commitments. But it's only mid-May, so the coaching staff have been hitting the road the last few weeks to talk to recruits.

    It certainly helps to show off a few rings — for winning the ACC and the national title. And when FSU hosts its summer camps, expect a bunch of commitments in the days to follow.

    FSU had 10 commitments but picked up an 11th on Monday afternoon when DB A.J. Westbrook of Daytona Beach Mainland accepted a scholarship offer he received just a day earlier.

    Here's a look at FSU's 11 commitments as well as some players that Fisher and his staff may be targeting.


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    Fisher has an eye for quarterbacks, and the 2015 class includes dual-threat QB De'Andre Johnson of Jacksonville First Coast, who has been committed to FSU since July 2012.

    "You’ve gotta have a good support system around you, stay in touch with the coach and talk to them about the plans they’ve got for you and how you fit in," Johnson told Chris Hayes of The Orlando Sentinel in February.

    Johnson has completed 63 percent of his passes, The Orlando Sentinel notes. A 247Sports 3-star prospect, He has been invited to The Opening, an all-star camp held in Oregon this summer.

    Grade: B. Fisher likely isn't finished with just one quarterback. But Johnson is a very accurate passer and a good start.

Running Back

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    FSU does not have a running back commitment, but the team is pursuing Jacques Patrick and Johnny Frasier, Noles247 reported (subscription required).

    The 6'1", 220-pound Patrick is a 4-star prospect from Orlando Timber Creek, and he has run for 5,385 yards and 67 touchdowns the past three years. Frasier, a 5'11", 200-pound prospect from Princeton, North Carolina, has run for 4,834 yards and 66 touchdowns the past two years. Both players are projected by 247Sports' Crystal Ball to choose FSU. 

    Grade: Incomplete. Recruits know that FSU will have Mario Pender, Ryan Green and Dalvin Cook around in 2015. Fisher can sell the success that he's had with a running-back-by-committee approach. And that could be good enough to land Patrick and Frasier.

Wide Receiver

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    Nyqwan Murray of Orlando Oak Ridge verbally committed to FSU on Saturday.

    "I think I fit great into their offense," Murray told Chris Nee of Noles247. "It is a great school."

    The 5'10", 160-pound Murray had 1,523 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior. He should be the first of at least three receivers in the Class of 2015 since Fisher has signed that number in 2013 and '14.

    Grade: B. Murray is a good start. But you can never have enough receivers.

Tight End

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    Josh McNeil of Copiah-Lincoln Community College has verbally committed to FSU, and he could enroll early in December 2015 if he earns his Associate of Arts degree.

    McNeil made commitments to both LSU and Alabama in high school but did not meet the NCAA's eligibility requirements, the Raleigh News and Observer reports.

    "Florida State has stuck with me the entire time," McNeil told Tim Stevens of the Raleigh News and Observer. "There were a lot of schools that said they wanted me and they cared about me, but they cut me off when I had my problems getting all of my credits accepted. Florida State always seemed to have my best interests in mind."

    Grade: B. With senior Nick O'Leary gone after 2014, FSU needs to be on the lookout for more tight ends to replenish the roster.

Offensive Line

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    FSU has landed three offensive linemen already: Kendrick Norton of Jacksonville Trinity Christian, Cole Minshew of Douglas (Georgia) Coffee County and David Robbins of Gleneig, Maryland. All three are high school guards, but that could change at the college level.

    FSU is also pursuing a large group of tackles, including Christian Pellage, Abdul Bello, William Sweet, Jalen Merrick and Geron Christian, Noles247 reports.

    Grade: B. But this could be an A if FSU lands some tackles, which will likely happen later this summer. The Seminoles will start five seniors in 2014, so restocking is essential with the 2015 class.

Defensive Line

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    FSU doesn't have a defensive tackle or end commitment yet. The Seminoles just signed seven defensive linemen in February, but the staff is actively pursuing a number of prospects.

    At end, FSU is battling Florida and a number of SEC programs for defensive end CeCe Jefferson of Glen St. Mary Baker High, according to Noles247. FSU is also thought to be in a battle with Clemson for defensive Austin Bryant of Thomas County Central, Noles247 writes.

    In addition, Noles247 reports that some of the defensive tackles that are being considered include Darvin Taylor of Chester, Virginia; Albert Huggins of Orangeburg, South Carolina; and D.J. Jones of Piedmont, South Carolina. Taylor is reportedly leaning heavily toward FSU, with 247Sports predicting that he will land in Tallahassee. 

    Grade: Incomplete. But, again, could be excellent if FSU lands some of the names above. Signing seven on the defensive line in 2014 probably hasn't helped in the eyes of recruits, who want playing time. But FSU coaches need to sell that they will have a deep rotation (and continue to show off the rings).


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    FSU has built a pipeline from Valdosta, Georgia, to Tallahassee, Florida, the past few years, landing cornerback Greg Reid, linebacker Telvin Smith and safety Tyler Hunter. Linebacker Brian Bell gave his commitment on Feb. 22. Bell has received interest from other schools but said he is 100 percent committed to FSU, according to 247Sports. 

    Coaches are also interested in Porter Gustin of Salem (Utah) Salem Hills and Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier, Noles247 reports. The 6'5", 240-pound Gustin is considered to be leaning toward USC based on 247Sports' Crystal Ball projections. But Hilliard has been projected by 247Sports' Crystal Ball as headed to a Big Ten school like Ohio State, Michigan or Iowa.

    Grade: B-. Bell is clearly just the start. FSU needs to hit the South harder and land more linebackers, not just for the 2015 season but beyond.

Defensive Backs

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    Derwin James is another longtime FSU commitment; he gave his verbal pledge in February 2012. At 6'2" and 200 pounds, he has the speed, instincts and frame to be a star at the college level. He's considered the nation's No. 1 safety prospect and has a tattoo of FSU's Seminole head on his left arm

    FSU also has verbal commitments from Tyrek ColeCalvin Brewton and A.J. Westbrook, who made a verbal commitment Monday afternoon. Coaches are also recruiting Tarvarus McFadden of Fort Lauderdale American Heritage, and 247Sports has predicted in its Crystal Ball that he will choose FSU. 

    Grade: A. There's not much you can say after landing James. McFadden would be a bonus. But this group is shaping up to be top notch.