Feb. 5, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- For the better part of the last decade Florida State men's track & field has arguably boasted the nation's top sprint program and that isn't likely to change given the Seminoles' National Signing Day haul.
The Seminoles received signed national letters of intent from three of the nation's premier sprinters Wednesday, headlining a class that is shaping up to be one of the finest in the country.
Jacksonville's Kendal Williams, who closed out the 2013 outdoor season at Stanton Prep ranked second in both the 100-meter (10.28) and 200-meter (20.64) dashes, is the Seminoles' top in-state sprint signee since Olympian Walter Dix penned with FSU in 2005.
Williams is joined by Zyaire Clemes from Trenton (N.J.) Central, who was ranked No. 3 in the U.S. as a junior in the 400-meter dash (46.28). Versatile Cherryville, N.C. star Trentavis Friday - No. 8 in the 100 (10.37) and No. 16 in the 400 (46.97) - round out a foursome that should make the Seminoles an NCAA Championship threat for the next four years.
"Once this entire group is put together and finalized you'll see it's one of the great groups anyone has signed in the last 10 years, top to bottom," FSU head coach Bob Bramansaid. "This is an exciting group that is going to come in together and make their own mark.
"Our staff went after US sprinters first and that's what we wanted to do.The international kids are great, but when you sign guys like this who have who have [U.S.] Olympic potential, their effect could go eight or more years down the road."
To better summarize the talents of the trio, Williams enters the 2014 outdoor season as the top-ranked 100-meter sprinter, while Friday ranks No. 3 in the 100, No. 20 in the 200 and No. 8 in the 400. Clemes is the unquestioned top-ranked 400-meter dash specialist.
Collectively, the trio has combined for 22 individual high school state titles, while also excelling on the junior national stage.
As an added bonus, the Seminoles will reap the rewards of the Florida State football program once again. Defensive tackle signee Frederick Jones will bolster what is already one of the strongest throw groups in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Jones, who won the 2012 and 2013 2A state shot put titles while competing for Miami Monsignor Pace, boasts a state-leading best mark of 61-7.50, which also ranks No. 7 nationally entering the 2014 outdoors. He will compete as a senior for track powerhouse Miami Central.
Florida State associate head coach Ken Harnden, who oversees the sprint program and was the lead recruiter for the first three signees, could not temper his enthusiasm.
"This has to be the best signing class in FSU men's track history," Harnden said. "Kendal Williams is the nation's best. He has always been a `Nole; his parents are `Noles. Kendal has all the tools to be the best on the planet one day.
"Trentavis, we knew from day 1, would be one of the most versatile sprinters in FSU history. He is built like Maurice Mitchell with the ability to be Maurice in the 100 and 200, and Ricardo Chambers in the 400m. Zyaire Clemes - what can I say? When I walked in his house I turned to coach (Dorian) Scott and said, `That's the best looking high school athlete I have ever seen.' Zyaire and Michael Cherry are going to be fun to watch in the coming years, Zyaire has the Olympics written all over him."
Williams can't wait to get started.
"This is really years and year of hard work that has finally paid off," he said. "There were a lot of schools and big programs that were really interested, but Florida State was where I felt most comfortable and where my heart was."
The prospects of teaming with Friday and Clemes - among others the `Noles are expected to sign - has Williams looking forward with great anticipation.
"With all the of speed there we might be able to win the national title in the 4x100 next year as freshmen," Williams said. "The next four years is really going to be exciting."
Florida State expects to add to its class Thursday on both the men's and women's side.