Monday, February 3, 2014 1:39pm
With no players in the top 10 nationally and only six in the top 50, this likely won’t go down as one of the Sunshine State’s best senior classes of all-time. But that hasn’t deterred the country’s top programs from coming south and waging battles for the state’s elite prospects.
Florida State, Florida and Miami are having the most luck with in-state recruits, as usual, but several other Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference programs are having success as well.
Georgia currently leads the way for the SEC contingent, snaring commitments from five Florida prospects, including three of the state’s top 100 players – running back Sony Michel, defensive end Keyon Brown and offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn.
Meanwhile, 10 of the ACC’s programs – FSU, Miami, Virginia Tech, Duke, Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Wake Forest -- have commitments from at least one player in Florida’s top 100. But the work isn’t done for any of those programs.
With signing day fast approaching, there are more than 15 prospects in Florida’s top 100 who haven’t committed to any school. That should make for a wild finish once the faxes start rolling on Wednesday.
Here’s our take on the big hits, misses and potential late additions from Florida for the ACC.
Major ACC Gets
1. Travis Rudolph, WR (6-0, 189) West Palm Beach, Cardinal Newman
There is some debate among recruiting services about whether he is the No. 1 receiver in the country – Rivals.com lists him there, while others have him a tad lower – but there’s no denying what Rudolph’s immense talent can mean for Florida State. As a senior, he racked up more than 1,200 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. The South Florida product has great speed and strength, and he will be a key piece in what could end up being the best receiving class in the country. FSU could use some help in that area, as the national champion Seminoles will look to replace departed star receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw.
2. Dalvin Cook, RB (5-11, 192) Miami, Central
Florida State lost two junior running backs to the NFL Draft when Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. decided to go pro, but the Seminoles might have their star tailback of the future in Cook. He rushed for more than 1,500 yards as a senior and was at his best in the state championship game, rushing for 223 yards and four touchdowns. Cook originally was committed to Florida before switching to the Seminoles.
3. Chad Thomas, DE (6-5, 229) Miami, Booker T. Washington
The talented pass-rusher has been committed to his hometown Miami Hurricanes since last summer, but late visits to Florida State and Alabama could make this a National Signing Day decision.
4. Joseph Yearby, RB (5-9, 177) Miami, Central
The other half of Central’s highly talented offensive backfield is already enrolled at UM. According to ESPN’s recruiting rankings, Yearby is the nation’s fourth-best running back prospect; one spot behind prep teammate Dalvin Cook.
5. Artavis Scott, WR (5-11, 180) Tarpon Springs, East Lake
If it seems like the Clemson Tigers snatch up top talent from the Sunshine State every year, it’s because they do. Scott chose Clemson over Florida and several other schools.
Major ACC Misses
Sony Michel, RB (5-11, 205) Plantation, American Heritage
After rushing for more than 1,500 yards as an eighth-grader on his high school varsity team, Michel became one of the nation’s top prospects way back in 2010. Florida State, Florida and others thought they had chances at him, but he finally settled on Georgia.
Dillon Bates, LB (6-3, 219) Ponte Vedra
The nation’s No. 2 outside linebacker, according to Rivals, is following in the footsteps of his father – former Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates – and heading to Tennessee.
Keyon Brown, DE (6-3, 240) Wauchula, Hardee
Despite heavy interest from home-state Florida State and Miami, Brown committed to Georgia early during his senior season. The defensive end prospect is rated No. 5 in the country at his position by Rivals.
Mason Cole, OL (6-5, 275) Tarpon Springs, East Lake
The highly touted offensive tackle prospect considered Florida State, Clemson and Notre Dame early but ultimately decided to commit to Michigan shortly after his junior year.
Isaiah Wynn, OL (6-2, 269) St. Petersburg, Lakewood
The physical guard prospect is one more of five Sunshine State commitments for Georgia coach Mark Richt.
Still On The Table
Ermon Lane, WR (6-2, 172) Homestead
The South Florida speedster originally committed to Florida but backed out on that decision in mid-January, and most analysts believe he will join a monster wide receiver class at Florida State.
Travonte Valentine, DT (6-3, 286) Hialeah, Champagnat Catholic
The nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle, according to Rivals, has narrowed down his list of finalists to Miami, LSU and Texas. He actually was committed to the Hurricanes before reopening his recruitment.
D’Ernest Johnson, RB (5-11, 189) Immokalee
The four-star tailback previously was committed to North Carolina, but some believe he will end up signing with either Louisville or USF.
T.J. Harrell, ATH (6-1, 210) Tampa, Catholic
The multi-talented prospect, who could play on offense or defense at the next level, is believed to be down to Louisville, Michigan State and Texas.
Chris Lammons, CB (5-9, 168) Plantation
After originally committing to Florida this past summer, Lammons later reopened his commitment and has since narrowed down his top choices to South Carolina and Wisconsin.
And The Winner Is ...
Florida State. The Seminoles already were recruiting at an extremely high level in Jimbo Fisher’s first four seasons as head coach. But after having a nation’s-best 11 players selected in last April’s NFL Draft and then following that up with a BCS national championship, the Seminoles apparently have hit overdrive.
With just a few days remaining before National Signing Day, Florida State is in position to lock up a top-five recruiting class nationally – and the nucleus of that group comes from the state of Florida.
According to recruiting service Rivals.com, FSU has commitments from five of the top 15 players in the state, including blue-chip skill players Travis Rudolph and Dalvin Cook. The Seminoles have verbals from nine of the state’s top 30 players and 12 of the top 100.
ACC rival Miami, however, isn’t too far behind. The Hurricanes have commitments from 10 of the state’s top 100 players, including highly touted defensive end Chad Thomas. But no school has locked up as much elite talent from the Sunshine State as the Seminoles have.