Spring Outlook: Florida State

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School: Florida State
Location: Tallahassee, Fla.
Enrollment: 37,328
Stadium: Doak S. Campbell
Capacity: 82,000
Scout.com Recruiting Ranking: 12 (1st ACC)
Spring Practice Begins: March 13
Spring Game: April 8

SIGNING DAY UPDATE: Florida State liked what it produced in recruiting.

While missing on some targeted players, including a rare defeat for a state high school star (C.J. Spiller), the Seminoles still finished strong. They racked up players in the final three days to assemble a 31-player class, which is the largest since scholarship limits began a few decades ago.

"This is the most we've signed in this modern era," said Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden. "I can remember in 1963, when I was an assistant here, we signed 65, (with one of them being FSU president T.K. Wetherell). It was unlimited.

"But since the 85 (player) scholarship limit, it's not even close. I can't even remember signing 25."

This year, the Seminoles got quantity -- but they also believe they have quality -- securing a class rated 12th in the nation by Scout.com. They also have a near equal mix of offense (16 players) and defense (15) along with 22 of the players from either Florida or Georgia. Six of the players already are enrolled. The other 25 were signed Wednesday.

On the heels of the past two recruiting classes, both consensus Top 10s, the Seminoles like their future.

"There's something big brewing at Florida State now," said new signee Ochuko Jenije, a cornerback from Tallahassee North Florida Christian, who joined acclaimed teammate Marcus Sims in picking the Seminoles. "Hopefully we'll keep the right goals, keep the right mindset and get things going on the right track."

Heading into the final day, the Seminoles had 12 undecided players on their recruiting board wish list. They got eight of those players, including Sims, Jenije, and two players, receiver Damon McDaniel and cornerback Patrick Robinson, who had originally committed to the Florida Gators.

"I thought there was more suspense this year," said Bowden, whose staff continued its reputation for being among the best closers in recruiting.

"I can remember when we used to recruit 75 guys and try and get 25.

"This year, there were 29 guys we thought we had a chance at. Out of that 29, 12 of them ... we didn't know what they were going to do. We got eight. That's pretty dadgum good."
The head of the class already was enrolled. Safety Myron Rolle, the straight-A student and top-rated defensive back from Princeton, N.J., was one of six players FSU brought into school in January.

Rolle is expected to compete for position openings at free safety next season. He also helped recruit Sims and receiver Brent Brewer (Tyrone, Ga.) during their campus visit last weekend.

"I think guys understand Florida State is heading in the right direction," Rolle said. "I think (recruiting prospects) saw there were a lot of freshmen playing last year, there was a freshman quarterback and injuries on the offensive line.

"Even with all that, FSU had flashes of brilliance last season and guys want to come here and be part of it."

TOP RECRUITS: DB Myron Rolle, Galloway, N.J. -- Projected as a free safety, Rolle was rated the nation's No. 1 overall player by two major recruiting services. He enrolled in January at FSU, where he is pushing toward an eventual goal of attending med school. He is a straight-A student with equal credentials on the field. Was named the player of the year in New Jersey. A combination of speed, good physique and his natural intelligence make him a coveted player for the Seminoles.

OT Daron Rose, Tampa -- The Seminoles missed on a couple other talented offensive linemen in Florida, but they got the guy rated No. 2 in the state by every scouting services. One national site has him No. 2 among all OL in the country. Rose was named first-team All-State for Class 4A by the Florida Sports Writers Association after his senior season.

TE Brandon Warren, Alcoa, Tenn. -- The Seminoles pulled off a stunner, getting Tennessee's top-rated player to spurn the hometown Vols, along with other SEC neighbors, and head to Florida State. He was also highly regarded as a defensive end. He was named the Knoxville News Sentinel PrepXtra Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 after tallying 83 tackles and 14 sacks from his defensive end. But the Seminoles see him as the athletic tight end they have lacked since Pat Carter, who became an NFL star.

LB Recardo Wright, Orlando -- Scout.com has him as the No. 16 ranked outside linebacker in the nation despite having played football for only two full years. He recorded 148 tackles, nine sacks and seven fumble recoveries as a senior at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando.

GLANCE AT 2006: The Seminoles believe they can build their future around QB Drew Weatherford and hope backup Xavier Lee sticks around to compete for the job this spring. Weatherford surprised with his tenacity and resolve in so many games, but he doesn't have the greatest mobility. He's a pocket passer who was learning how to read coverages with mixed results this year.

The Seminoles need to shore up depth issues and talent issues on their offensive and defensive lines. They are losing their best two linemen, DT Brodrick Bunkley and DE Kamerion Wimbley, both seniors. The secondary will miss senior safety Pat Watkins and strong safety Kyler Hall, but everyone else returns. The linebackers graduate, but their backups played well and have years ahead. The schedule is headlined with the season-opening trip to Miami. That will define how 2006 begins.

* The Seminoles' 2006 schedule has eight home games, a first in school history. The Seminoles will leave the state of Florida only three times (Maryland, N.C. State, Duke).

* It's been an eventful offseason, so far, for FSU. In addition to the early NFL defections of junior LB Ernie Sims and CB Antonio Cromartie, the Seminoles dismissed two of their acclaimed players from prior recruiting classes.

The biggest is WR Fred Rouse, rated the state's top receiver in 2004, and one of the top-rated players nationally. But Rouse, already suspended once during the season, apparently had multiple strikes for off-field violations, so the Seminoles had no qualms about kicking off a hometown player. They also booted OG Cornelius Lewis, a redshirt freshman who started three games last season. It was the similar three-strike policy for undisclosed violations. Neither had a criminal record.

* If that wasn't enough, QB Wyatt Sexton, the starter for half of the 2004 season, opted against trying a comeback. Sexton was diagnosed with Lyme disease following bizarre behavior in June, creating a national story when he claimed to be "son of God" and was subdued by police outside his Tallahassee residence.

* The dismissal of OG Cornelius Lewis, along with surgeries to Cory Niblock and John Frady, means the Seminoles will have only five scholarship linemen available for spring practice, which starts March 13.

SPRING QUESTIONS: Where's the offense? Coordinator Jeff Bowden continues to survive under intense scrutiny, but he probably won't last too much longer if the Noles don't put more points on the board in 2006 (scoring offense ranked 59th in the country in 2005). Defensively, Florida State must replace two DL (Wimbley and Bunkley), a LB (Sims), and S (Watkins) that will likely be taken in the first two rounds of the draft.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We fell probably one player short. I'll take responsibility for that. Sometimes with timing and the way you set things up ... sometimes you guess wrong." -- Florida State tight ends coach John Lilly, the team's recruiting coordinator, on failing to meet a stated goal of signing eight offensive linemen.

Around the ACC:
N.C. State
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Boston College

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