Enrolling early is a major advantage for recruits who are mentally ready to skip their final semester of high school and begin a college curriculum and weight training program. Additionally, enrolling early allows the recruit to become acclimated with the program and participate in spring practice -- a major leg up on the other incoming players who must wait until the summer to start school.
Florida State is welcoming five early enrollees for the 2014 recruiting class, which consists of 29 players, including one five-star and 14 four-star prospects.
The highest-rated of FSU's early enrollees is Miami (Fla.) Central High School running back Dalvin Cook, a consensus five-star player, according to the 247Sports Composite. Cook, who is 5'11 and weighs 190 pounds, is ranked as the 12th-best overall prospect in the class and the second-best player at his position. He picked the Seminoles over offers from Alabama, Texas, Miami, Clemson, LSU, Florida, USC and Texas A&M.
Joining Cook is four-star linebacker Kain Daub, another in-state player. The Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood High product is 6'3, 234 pounds; he is regarded as the No. 4 outside linebacker in the 2014 class and the No. 55 overall player. He picked FSU over the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Ohio State and Miami.
Lake City (Fla.) Columbia High School's Trey Marshall is in school already as well. The 5'11, 196-pound safety is a consensus four-star prospect and the No. 13 player at his position. He is also considered the No. 181 overall prospect in the nation. He had offers from Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Miami.
The other two early enrollees are long snapper Stephen Gabbard and offensive guard Kareem Are. Gabbard is a consensus two-star prospect from Tallahassee (Fla.) Amos P. Godby High School. The 6'3, 220-pounder is the No. 3 player at his position and the No. 2,650 overall prospect in the country.
Are is a three-star junior college player from Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. He is regarded as the third-best JUCO offensive guard in the class and the No. 46 overall JUCO player. Are, who stands 6'6, 335 pounds, had offers from Ole Miss, Penn State and South Carolina.
Still to come
FSU also holds non-binding verbal commitments from several star recruits it hopes to sign on Feb. 5, National Signing Day.
The highest-rated among them is Jacob Pugh, a four-star outside linebacker and teammate of Gabbard's at Amos P. Godby. Pugh is regarded as the fifth-best player at his position and the No. 67 overall prospect in the country. The 6'4, 221-pound OLB also holds offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Penn State and Ole Miss. Florida State has been trying to upgrade its size at linebacker and Pugh does just that.
Wide receiver Travis Rudolph is another four-star player, and yet another key in-state get for the Seminoles. The West Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinal Newman product is 6'1, 185 pounds, and is regarded as the seventh-best receiver in the nation as well as the No. 69 overall prospect. With the departure of receivers Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin to the draft, Rudolph will have a chance to play immediately.
The Seminoles also have a verbal from Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington standout Treon Harris, who is a consensus four-star athlete. The speedy 5'11, 180-pound prospect could end up at one of several different positions; he was a dangerous dual-threat QB in high school. Harris picked FSU over Auburn, Florida, Miami, Oregon, Clemson and Ole Miss, among others, but he is still quite open to other schools.
Remaining targets -- Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst
FSU is still in on a number of top targets. Here are two from the recent "predicting where the top-25 uncommitted recruits will sign" piece.
Ermon Lane is back on the market after decommitting from Florida in January. The wide receiver is considered a five-star by the 247Sports Composite, ranking as the 26th-best prospect in the class. Lane is thought to be the third-best wide receiver and the fourth-best prospect in the talent-rich state of Florida. Listed at 6'3 and 193 pounds, he attends Homestead (Fla.) High School, and holds offers from Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Ohio State, among others.
Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst: At this point, I am not sure who to list as No. 2 for Lane behind the Seminoles. I expect him to follow his friend Dalvin Cook to Tallahassee and take advantage of some early playing time with Jameis Winston.
Top 100 Games
Top 100 Games
Lane is scheduled to take his official visit to Tallahassee on January 31, the last available official visit before National Signing Day.
Roderick Johnson is a four-star offensive tackle from Hazelwood Central (Mo.) High School who hails from Florissant. He is rated as the 113th-best player in the nation, the 12th-best offensive tackle and the second-best player in the state. Listed at 6'6 and 315 pounds, he holds offers from Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan, among others.
Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst: Florida State has been way out in front for quite a while here, making Johnson an early priority, and the feeling is that Johnson just wants to wait until National Signing Day to put on a hat.
Two longshots are also coming in to Tallahassee this weekend in five-star cornerback Malon Humphrey and four-star defensive lineman Malik McDowell. Here is what I recently said about each.
The top uncommitted recruit is Marlon Humphrey, a five-star cornerback from Alabama. Listed at 6'1 and 175 pounds, the cornerback attends Hoover (Ala.) High School and is from Birmingham. He is listed as the fifth-best player in the country and the best corner in the class. He holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State and South Carolina, among others.
Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst:Humphrey's dad Bobby was a star for the Crimson Tide, and son Marlon lives just down the road from Tuscaloosa. If there is a school that can sign Humphrey away from the Tide it is Florida State, as Humphrey has a great relationship with Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who coached defensive backs at Alabama for several years previous to joining FSU's staff in 2013. This one will come down to official visits, but is is very difficult to pick against the Tide and a chance to be coached by Nick Saban when a five-star Alabama legacy is concerned.
Note: this was before Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt left to take the same position at Georgia. While Humphrey does still have genuine interest in the Seminoles, the loss of Pruitt hurts their chances even more.
Malik McDowell is one of the top prospects in the Midwest, and one of the best defensive ends in the nation. Listed at 6'7 and 290 pounds, he attends Southfield (Mich.) High School and hails from Detroit. He is considered a four-star prospect, ranking as the 37th-best player in the class and the third-best strong-side defensive end as well as the best player in the state of Michigan. McDowell claims offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State and LSU, among others.
Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst: McDowell is extremely tough to predict at this point. I thought he was Michigan-bound for quite a while, but then Michigan State had a great close to its season thanks to a great defense and grabbed his attention. Visits are still scheduled for Florida State, LSU and Ohio State in the three coming weekends, and I'm not comfortable making the call quite yet.
Florida State plans to take about 30 players in its 2014 class, and currently has 29 with several major targets left on its recruiting board.
The reality is that several players, including Treon Harris, four-star defensive lineman Dexter Wideman, three-star receiver C.J. Worton, three-star receiver JoJo Robinson, and three-star defensive lineman Arthur Williams are still considering their options. And there are some players about whom Florida State is not sure will qualify. There is a good chance that 2-5 of the current commitments will not eventually sign with Florida State.