After seeing what Johnny Manziel and one huge season did for Texas A&M’s 2013 recruiting class, Florida State football fans can only dream about what Jameis Winston and this fall might do for the Seminoles on National Signing Day in February 2014.
Yes, it’s still a little premature to compare Winston to the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He has played all of five college football games. But the excitement surrounding FSU’s redshirt freshman quarterback is beginning to grow to incredibly high levels.
His highlights are popping up on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” National media outlets are beginning to descend upon Tallahassee again. And Florida State is 5-0 after its 63-0 dismantling of then-No. 25 Maryland – a margin of victory that ties a national record for the largest ever against a ranked opponent.
What happens at Clemson on Saturday, Oct. 19, will largely determine just how successful this season will be for Winston and the Seminoles. A win there – in a stadium that hasn’t seen a Florida State victory since 2001 – would give FSU firm command of the ACC Atlantic Division race.
The game also will have implications far outside the conference, as ABC has announced that it will broadcast the game nationally at 8 p.m.
But even if the Seminoles falter there, they still would be in position for a tremendous season; they will be favored in every other game, except maybe the regular-season finale at Florida. And barring a late-season collapse, FSU will be one of the hottest teams in the country going into next season -- which is why Seminole fans might be in for an even greater treat than usual in February.
Just take a look at what last year did for Texas A&M.
After the Aggies went 11-2 and Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, head coach Kevin Sumlin brought to College Station the highest-rated recruiting class in nearly a decade.
ESPN rated the Aggies’ 2013 class No. 8 nationally, and the 247Sports Composite Rankings – which compile the average rankings from the main recruiting services – had them at No. 9. One year earlier, Texas A&M’s class was No. 16 in the composite rankings. And in the five years prior to that – the Aggies’ average class ranking was No. 25.
From an individual player perspective, Texas A&M landed 15 four-star prospects in 2013 -- the first class after Manziel’s Heisman-winning season. One year earlier, they had signed six. The year before that? Three.
And the Aggies appear poised to deliver another top-10 class this February as well, with the crown jewel being Arizona quarterback Kyle Allen, who is the consensus No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country. Allen committed to Texas A&M this past summer.
Given that type of turnaround, there’s no telling how Jimbo Fisher’s recruiting machine will be able to capitalize on the current excitement.
Florida State has recruited well for decades – save for the final few years of Bobby Bowden’s tenure – and Fisher appears to have the Seminoles humming at peak capacity. His first four classes have all been ranked in the top 10 nationally, two finished in the top five, and the 2014 crop finish in that category as well.
According to ESPN’s rankings, FSU’s current class checks in at No. 2 behind two-time defending national champion Alabama. Rivals has the Seminoles at No. 5, and the 247Sports Composite places them at No. 6. But a lot could change between now and February, particularly if Winston and the Seminoles keep winning.
Not long after Florida State blasted Maryland and Winston had turned in another 300-yard passing performance, recruiting sites started checking in with top prospects to get their impressions. And it’s no surprise that the Seminoles are turning recruits’ heads.
Louisiana wide receiver Malachi Dupre, who is considered by many to be the nation’s top player at his position, gushed about the Seminoles’ offense in an interview with Rivals. “I think I could thrive in it.”
Four-star running back Donte-Thomas Williams of North Carolina, also talking with Rivals, described the Seminoles’ offense as “relentless.”
Four-star receiver Ryan Davis, a 2015 prospect from St. Petersburg, told Scout that the Seminoles, “look like they are ready to win a national championship.
And Georgia defensive tackle Trenton Thompson, a five-star prospect, told Rivals that his home-state Bulldogs still are his top choice, but he added that FSU is “up there now.”
And the rave reviews didn’t stop there.
Whether that midseason excitement will translate directly to blue-chip signings in February is to be determined. But when looking at how high Texas A&M’s class soared after just one season with Manziel and Sumlin, there’s no telling how Florida State could surge considering the Seminoles were already near the front of the pack.
Hamilton Goes Juco Route
After a disappointing 2012-13 season, Florida State men’s basketball coach Leonard Hamilton apparently is trying to look for some quick fixes for his next signing class.
The Seminoles are expected to sign as many as six prospects this recruiting cycle, and they already have commitments from two of the nation’s top junior college prospects.
Point guard Josh Gray, who started as a freshman at Texas Tech but transferred after a coaching change, plans to sign with the Seminoles following one year at Odessa College.
And FSU also has landed forward Cinmeon Bowers, a 6-6, 235-pounder from Chipola College in the Florida panhandle. Bowers, an athletic power forward, originally hails from Milwaukee and was recruited by Louisville, Memphis and others.
The Seminoles also have a commitment from high school forward Marvin Saunders (6-5, 233) of Texas.
This will be the first time since the beginning of Hamilton's 12-year tenure at FSU that the Seminoles will bring in more than one junior college player in a class.