Feb. 6, 2013
Despite losing six coaches this off-season, Florida State signed a top-10 class full of difference-makers and depth builders.
Here's a quick breakdown of each recruit that was included on Seminoles.com's National Signing Day Central Wednesday:
Also known as "Kermit," it could be argued that Whitfield is the fastest 2013 prospect in the entire country. A year after signing the undisputed fastest prospect in the 2012 class (his cousin, Marvin Bracy), Whitfield gives the Seminoles yet another track star at the wide receiver position. The idea of Bracy and Whitfield on the field at the same time -- whether it's at receiver or in the return game -- is downright terrifying for opposing defensive coordinators. Whitfield is the type of speedy talent that could be a factor in multiple scenarios on offense, just get him the football.
The fact that Lyons could potentially play safety at the collegiate level bodes well for the 'Noles because of his versatility and playmaking skills. A projected linebacker in Tallahassee, Lyons' addition immediately bolsters the depth chart where Florida State has just six scholarship players on the roster entering spring practice. Lyons was the second player to commit to the Seminoles for the 2013 class, giving his verbal pledge to FSU way back pin Feb. 25 of 2012. FSU has now signed at least one player from First Coast High School four out of the last six recruiting cycles.
A standout cornerback with a great, long frame, White committed to Florida State last May but was still recruited heavily during his senior season by in-state Alabama. It's always difficult to pluck prospects out of Alabama and then hang on to them but helping FSU in this battle against the Crimson Tide was Jeremy Pruitt, who joined the staff as the new defensive coordinator after coaching defensive backs (and serving as White's primary recruiter) at Alabama. White is a prototypical defensive back, one that Pruitt has helped turned into NFL Draft picks the last few years.
Because he is such a fantastic blocker and has offensive lineman-like size, Kerr could eventually find himself playing for Rick Trickett at Florida State. But Kerr comes to Tallahassee as a tight end with a frame and strength that makes him the purest all-around blocker among tight ends on the roster. Nick O'Leary, Kevin Haplea, Will Tye Dan Hicks and Christo Kourtzidis are considered more so be pass-catchers first and blockers second, so Kerr's addition gives new position coach Billy Napier an extra weapon in his arsenal.
Bryan Stork is a redshirt senior and Austin Barron is now a junior so bringing in a true center like Hoefield sets the 'Noles up nicely for the future. Hoefield fits the Rick Trickett type of mold for centers as the FSU offensive line coach likes them to be athletic, nimble and smart. Hoefield's signing also means that overall depth on the offensive line is increased after the Seminoles lost both Menelik Watson and Daniel Glauser this off-season. Hoefield has been verbally committed to Florida State since last July.
The first player to verbally commit to Florida State for the 2013 class after making his intentions public on Jan. 11, 2012, Hoskins is an athletic linebacker with good enough speed that allowed him to play wide receiver in high school. Hoskins fills an important need at outside linebacker for the Seminoles as he will be added to a depth chart that is replacing starter Nick Moody. Hoskins is versatile enough and has a large enough frame that he could also be a factor at middle linebacker as well.
Hollin has some big shoes to fill after Markus White and Tank Carradine turned successful junior-college careers into productive, NFL-bound stints at Florida State. Hollin's addition is critical for the 'Noles, as FSU lacks much depth at the defensive end position. Hollin is physically and mentally mature enough to step right in and compete for a starting position the moment he steps foot on campus this summer. Before Hollin's arrival, redshirt sophomore Giorgio Newberry will be the elder statesmen among defensive ends on the roster.
One of FSU's biggest signing-day needs in 2013 was bringing in a handful of offensive linemen to provide depth and build for the future -- specifically at offensive tackle, where the 'Noles have a starting job up for grabs on the right side and not much depth. Bell's addition means that the competition at right side ramps up even more with returners Bobby Hart and Garrett Faircloth are the only returning players at that position with any starting experience. Bell has got a nasty streak (seriously, take a look at his highlight reel) -- a coveted trait by offensive line coach Rick Trickett.
An elite linebacker with a similar body to FSU star Christian Jones, Thomas was a big get for the Seminoles out of talent-rich Miami. Thomas has stellar sideline-to-sideline playmaking skills at the linebacker position and the strength and size capable of stopping the run. At FSU, he'll be added to a depth chart that isn't overly deep but has a lot of talent. Thomas was primarily recruited by James Coley but that didn't stop him from choosing the Seminoles when FSU's former offensive coordinator left for the same position at Miami last month.
Florida State desperately needed a few defensive ends in this recruiting cycle and Bryant is a work-in-progress at the position with a very high upside. A basketball player, Bryant just recently began playing football and right away showed tremendous instincts and natural skills. He has the ability to develop into a really nice player for the 'Noles once he hits the weight room and begins the learning process under defensve ends coach Sal Sunseri when he arrives in Tallahassee.
Arguably the crown jewel of FSU's 2013 signing class, Ramsey is an elite cornerback prospect with terrific size for the position. Ramsey is athletic enough that he could line up at wide receiver if he wanted to but should flourish under the tutelage of Jeremy Pruitt, who was instrumental in getting the Brentwood, Tenn. to flip from his longtime verbal commitment to USC in time to sign his National Letter of Intent for FSU. Ramsey is known around the country as a lockdown defensive back with tremendous length, range and playmaking ability and should push for immediate playing time at FSU.
A former verbal commitment to Minnesota, Andrews made the switch to the Seminoles in late January because of his relationship with new FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who had been recruiting him when he was the defensive backs coach at Alabama. Andrews played a bunch of positions in high school but he likely projects as a safety in Tallahassee where he'll use his strong frame and speed to make plays in the back end of the secondary where FSU has a lot of inexperience behind veterans Lamarcus Joyner, Terrence Brooks and Karlos Williams.
Florida State is now without 6-foot-6 wide receiver Rodney Smith after he caught a pass in a school-record 39 consecutive games but FSU gets to replace him with another lanky, tough-to-defend pass catcher in Jones. The Milton, Fla. native can now be paired with 6-foot-5 redshirt sophomore Kelvin Benjamin to form a tall duo of receivers capable of creating mismatches on the outside. Jones is deceptively quick for his size, Jones could be a nice safety valve for FSU's new quarterback this fall as someone that can make catches in traffic with his strong hands and long wing span.
Wilson is a new speedy weapon for FSU wide receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey that can be used in various formations whether he's outside or in the slot. Wilson's addition gives the Seminoles yet another play-making option on offense. He also provides added depth for a squad that has four scholarship seniors at the position entering the 2013 campaign. Wilson excels in open space and could be a real threat running end-arounds or catching screen passes. He also could be a factor in the competition for kick- and punt-return duties.
John Franklin III
Franklin is one of those special athletes that is recruited in large part because they can fit into multiple positions on the roster because of their athleticism and natural ability on the football field. A standout dual-threat quarterback at Plantation High School, Franklin will get the opportunity at FSU to line up under center alongside Jameis Winston, Jacob Coker, Clint Trickett and Sean Maguire but there's also the possibility that he could see time at wide receiver or in the defensive backfield. The 6-foot-1, 171-pound athlete publicly committed to the Seminoles Nov. 1.
Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr. are the only returning tailbacks on the 2013 roster with any experience with Mario Pender coming off a redshirt rookie season, so signing at least one elite true running back was important for FSU coach Jimbo Fisher. Pender is one of the country's best all-around runners, capable of toting the football through the tackles or using his speed to get to the outside. In the open field he has nice "wiggle" with an ability to make defenders miss. Green committed publicly to the Seminoles last June and stayed firm in that pledge through his senior year.
An elite prospect at guard because of his road-grading ability, strength and Division I size, Denson fills a huge need for the 'Noles on the interior of the offensive line moving forward. With upperclassmen starters at guard, Denson will be an important piece for offensive line coach Rick Trickett moving forward as an eventual replacement for Josue Matias or Tre' Jackson, who, like Denson, are known for their tremendous upper body strength at athletic ability. Denson is an another in a long line of prospects from FSU pipeline Madison County High School.
A former Miami commitment, Bryant is next in line in what has turned into a yearly FSU tradition of signing elite defensive tackles. The massive run-stuffer joins a crowded depth chart that features fellow highly-touted signees Jacobbi McDaniel, Timmy Jernigan, Justin Shanks and Eddie Goldman among others but that shouldn't stop him from pushing for playing time as his new position coach, Odell Haggins, loves to rotate bodies and keep the interior of the line fresh. Defensive tackle wasn't a huge position of need this recruiting cycle so Bryant is a nice National Signing Day bonus.
Levenberry gave his verbal pledge to the Seminoles way back in April of 2012 and despite pressure from some big-time programs remained true to his word. A versatile linebacker that is capable of playing inside or outside, Levenberry boasts game-ready size that he'll need to take on and shed opposing blockers coming his way in college. Linebacker was a huge recruiting need for the 'Noles this year and Levenberry's addition gives them another playmaker that can be added to the rotation and increases the level of competition among returners and newcomers.