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Florida State football recruiting: Camp recap, notes, projections

Where does FSU's class stand, and what comes next?

Mike Ehrmann

Florida State's Jimbo Fisher camp concluded over the weekend. Overall, the camp was above average, but the level of talent participating was not up to the very lofty standards set by the Seminoles in recent years. But with a new staff, perhaps that should have been expected. The new coaches are working to establish new relationships.

That's not to say that FSU didn't have elite talent visit during the camp. Names like Thomas Holley, Lorenzo Carter, and Lorenzo Featherston are all elite, top-50 type national players, and several other top-100 or top-200 types also showed up to visit. Still, Florida State needs to do a better job of bringing more elite players to campus, and we'll see if the overall level of talent is better in the July camp session.

South Florida is an area in which FSU lost top recruiters Eddie Gran and James Coley, but Lawrence Dawsey has had Tampa as his recruiting area for six years, and absolutely must do a better job of getting kids from the Bay area to camp.

The haul

While the process wasn't as good as it had been in previous years, the results were quite good. Florida State landed six new commitments: Ryan Sousa, Ethan Frith, Malique Jackson, Stephen Gabbard, Mavin Saunders and Marlon Gonzalez (2015).

The scouting of Frith and Saunders was excellent, and FSU's early offer helped to sway both prospects. Saunders is flying up the recruiting rankings after his spring performance, and should soon be a consensus four-star tight end. Sousa is an excellent fit for Florida State's offense, and Malique Jackson has the length and athleticism that FSU wants in a corner prospect, though he will need to sit for a year or two.

News & notes

While we produced a ton of content from the Jimbo Fisher Camp, there are some loose ends to tie up from kids who visited or camped in the last week.

  • Offensive tackle Dyshon Sims, of Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes, did come down to camp on Saturday and earned his offer. Georgia still leads for the 6'4, 275-pound tackle/guard, but he did enjoy working with coach Rick Trickett. He does plan to visit Florida State again, as well as Georgia and Alabama. The connection with family friend Josh Harvey-Clemons, a safety for UGA, is strong. Sims also noted that he grew up watching Georgia. Sims will not make a commitment until his mother comes along with him to some schools. He said that she favors Georgia and Alabama.
  • Jacob McCrary of Miami (Fla.) Coral Reef stopped in to the camp early in the week. The receiver had previously committed to Florida State and Clemson, and is now taking his time to make sure he makes the right decision. Excellent as a sophomore, McCrary had a down junior year thanks in part to a knee sprain. He is now in better shape and looking to return to form. McCrary says he is feeling "West Virginia, Clemson and Florida State." He plans to be at West Virginia on July 27, and plans to visit Clemson again in the future. If McCrary gets back to his previous form, he could again shoot up recruiting boards.
  • Florida State defensive end commitment Blake McClain, of Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood High School looked better than he did several months ago in Orlando. McClain is 6'5 and 273 pounds, and moved well for his size. This was the first time he was able to work with Coach Sal, and he enjoyed the challenge. He liked the family factor at Florida State, and is trying to bring three offensive linemen from his area to Tallahassee: David Sharpe (5-star offensive tackle who likes Georgia and Florida), Jesse Burkett (3-star offensive tackle who likes Florida State and UNC), and Josh Allen (3-star guard who likes UNC, FSU and Arkansas). Teammate and fellow Florida State commitment Kain Daub (5-star linebacker) is also working on the trio.
  • FSU wide receiver commitment C.J. Worton competed and looked good. Out of Homestead (Fla.) South Dade, Worton also tripped to Kentucky over the weekend and enjoyed the experience. He spoke well of his relationship with coach [Lawrence] Dawsey and team chaplain Clint Purvis. Worton described his commitment as "firm." Worton said that UCF and Miami are the schools recruiting him the hardest other than Florida State. His connection to UCF is a familial one, as his brother plays for the Golden Knights. With Miami, the connection is offensive coordinator James Coley, who originally recruited him to Florida State.
  • Chris Herndon, a tight end out of Norcross (Ga.) High School, was impressive. He holds offers from Miami and Mississippi State, and was paid a lot of attention by tight ends coach Tim Brewster. Florida State did not offer, but an offer in the future is not out of the question. Herndon said that he enjoyed the campus. FSU is heavily recruiting teammates Myles Autry and Lorenzo Carter. Herndon hasn't seen Miami's campus, but is in contact with coaches Scott and Barrow, and he is excited to visit the campus soon. Coach Turner is Herndon's recruiter at Mississippi State, and is selling him on the family feel and the community atmosphere.
  • Speaking of teammate Lorenzo Carter, the five-star defensive end recruit enjoyed his visit. I would still project him to Alabama or Georgia, however.
  • Raashed Kennion, a Cincinnati defensive end commitment out of Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast High School, a traditional Florida State stronghold, looked good at the camp. While FSU declined to offer, an offer could come at a later date if higher targets don't choose the Seminoles. Kennion was recently offered by Auburn, and he also holds offers from Pitt, Georgia Tech and others. Kennion has a lot of family around Tallahassee. He enjoyed his time with coach [Sal] Sunseri. Kennion is a bright kid, and at 6'7 and 220 pounds, has the potential to become a lot better player with added muscle.
  • I had a long conversation with Derrell Scott's defensive coordinator, who came down to work the camp with Scott. Out of Havelock (N.C.) High School, Scott is an electric four-star running back. I know that Scott was excited to see Florida State's facilities, but have not talked with him since the visit. Scott's defensive coordinator raved about him, saying that he is the team's hardest worker in addition to its most talented player, and noting his 3.9 GPA. Scott really likes South Carolina in addition to Florida State. It's close to home, and a former Havelock teammate may start for the Gamecocks as a true freshman. His defensive coordinator tells me that Scott loved the visit, connected with coaches Graham and Fisher, and really liked the facilities and the tradition.
  • Florida State commitment JoJo Robinson, of Miami (Fla.) Northwestern did make it up to the camp. He is not a firm commitment to the Seminoles, as the receiver is quite open, particularly to overtures from Miami. This is not news to FSU recruitniks, but it's worth noting that FSU did not firm him up during his visit.
  • Jonathan "Jay" Vickers, of Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian, had a very good camp. Vickers was better than expected, and caught the ball very well for a bigger running back. He has Florida State on top, followed by Louisville, Georgia, South Carolina and Ole Miss. Vickers said that he bonded with new running backs coach [Jay] Graham, and liked that Graham got everything out of him.
  • Of note: Sources at Florida State tell me that the Seminoles made up ground on 6'4, 290-pound Brooklyn (NY) Abraham Lincoln High defensive tackle Thomas Holley. The consensus four-star holds offers from most of the major programs in the country, and does not seem close to a decision.
  • Safety Cortez McDowell, of Locust Grove (Ga.) popped in for quick visit over the weekend. Noles247 spoke with him.
  • "It was real good," McDowell said. "I got a chance to really see everything that I wanted to see. My mom had a chance to speak with the academic advisors and stuff like that. She was able to get a feel for the school."
    Tennessee and Auburn are also very much in the mix for his commitment.
  • 2015 Cape Coral (Fla.) Island Coast defensive lineman Marlon Gonzalez elected to be a Seminole after being offered at Florida State's camp. Why? "I felt comfortable with the coaches, Gonzalez said. "Really enjoyed the campus compared to schools I visited. I loved their facility. I'm happy to be a Nole!!!!"
  • 2016 Frostproof (Fla.) quarterback Xavier Gaines has a strong bond with Jimbo Fisher, and has Florida State on top of his recruitment. Why? "Production," Gaines said, referencing Jimbo Fisher's three first-round draft picks at quarterback in the last decade.
  • 2015 Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast linebacker Sherrod Pittman has a top-10 list, but says that "any school that talks to me can get in my top 10." Pittman said that he really likes South Carolina, Auburn, Florida and Louisville. Most project him to Florida at this time.
  • 2015 Albany (Ga.) Westover High School defensive tackle Trenton Thompson was perhaps the most impressive player at the camp, and he didn't even work out. The 6'3.5, 292-pound Thompson is extremely well put together, and has very long arms. Most consider him the best 2015 defensive tackle nationally. Thompson doesn't even turn 17 for another month. He spoke well of his relationship with defensive tackle coach [Odell] Haggins and head coach Jimbo Fisher. Thompson said Florida State sold him on playing both 3 and 5-technique. He has an unofficial top list of UGA, Florida State and Tennessee. Thompson plans to visit FSU again in July, will attend Georgia's 'Dawg Night,' and is going to South Carolina soon.


Florida State Recruiting Board

Florida State has 15 current commitments. Seven are regarded as four-stars or better, seven as three-stars, and the long-snapper, regardless of talent, is a position that almost always garners a two-star grade. A class of about 50-percent four-stars or better is quite good, particularly when a school plans to take more than 25, as Florida State does. It would be a shock if FSU doesn't end up with a top-10 class. Of the seven three-stars, it's a good bet that two will achieve four-star status (Saunders is pretty much a lock for the rating bump after his impressive spring and summer). Of the current 15, I would expect about 12 to end up in the final class, based on history, time remaining until National Signing Day, and the strength of the commitments in the class.

Here are some names at which FSU has a strong shot to land within the next several weeks:

  • Florissant (Mo.) Hazelwood Central High School offensive tackle Roderick Johnson is expected to visit Florida State Monday night and Tuesday. The consensus four-star is a massive 6'7 and 325 pounds, and Florida State has an excellent shot to land his commitment, perhaps even as early as Tuesday. The other contenders include Alabama, where Johnson visited Monday, and Oklahoma. Arkansas is also very interested. FSU's Tim Brewster is his main recruiter.
  • I did not see Lake City (Fla.) Columbia's Trey Marshall at the camp, but some commenters did say that he tweeted about the event. Nonetheless, FSU is in a great position to land the four-star defensive back, probably at The Opening 2013 in two weeks.
  • Norfolk (Va.) Lake Taylor High School's Jayln Holmes is also a strong candidate to commit to the Seminoles soon over Clemson and Ohio State. Holmes is a consensus four-star, and one of the five best weak-side ends nationally at 6'5 and 225 pounds.
  • Middletown (Md.) High School's Rick Leonard, a jumbo defensive end at 6'7 and 255 pounds, is another strong candidate to pull the trigger. Leonard's dad and grandmother went to Florida State. The main competition is Clemson.
  • Two defensive backs could soon join the fold. Cortez McDowell, mentioned above, could become a Seminole within the next few weeks if things work out and FSU pushes for a commitment, though Auburn and Tennessee are very much in the picture. And Tajee Fullwood, of Tampa Bay (Fla.) Tech, could also join the class if he impresses at the July camp.