Recruiting Road Map

In this second of three installments, FSU recruiting coordinator John Lilly shares the Seminoles' strategy when it comes to searching the country for a high-profile quarterback. It also appears to be a special year for quarterbacks, which is good news for FSU. The 'Noles are looking to sign at least two in February. "You look for intangibles, too. How well do they lead? How smart are they? How well can they pick things up? Obviously, we are always going to throw the football," Lilly said.

When scanning the country for a high-profile quarterback, Florida State recruiting coordinator John Lilly refers to a checklist that includes physical skills as well as intangibles.

"I look for a lot of different things," Lilly said.

"You look for intangibles, too. How well do they lead? How smart are they? How well can they pick things up? Obviously, we are always going to throw the football. We are always going to have very good receivers.

"We are going to try to balance the run and the pass as best we can. So you have to have a guy who can execute a lot of different things - smart enough to get you in the right play if you ask him to do that. But recruiting is still not an exact science - you do the best you can. That's why this is such an important time to evaluate guys."

Lilly and the Seminoles' coaching staff are in the second of four weeks during the pivotal spring recruiting process. Lilly has visited a number of states the past two weeks, from California to Maryland to Virginia to North Carolina. However, he plans to concentrate on Florida the next two weeks.

Of course, the quarterback position continues to be a hot topic of conversation among FSU fans. The Seminoles are hoping to sign at least two high-profile signal-callers, and the list is fairly distinguished this season.

Quarterbacks on the Seminoles' hit list include Anthony Morelli of Pittsburgh, Chad Henne of West Lawn, Penn., Bobby Reid of Galena Park, Tex., Rhett Bomar of Grand Prairie, Tex., and the Sunshine State's Talented Trifecta of Xavier Lee of Daytona Beach Seabreeze, Cornelius Ingram of Hawthorne and Drew Weatherford of Land O' Lakes.

While this Magnificent Seven have combined to record mind-boggling numbers, Lilly says other factors are involved during the recruiting process.

"I don't think you can hold a guy's offense against him," Lilly said. "From that standpoint, there have been a lot of guys who maybe didn't throw a lot in high school as they maybe could have, or whatever. Different programs are going to do what they feel like gives them the best chance to win based on your personnel.

"People at running programs, then that quarterback might be a great thrower but may not throw the ball as much. You can't get caught up in a bunch of numbers, though obviously it's beneficial to be able to see a guy throw a lot in a passing offense. Again, I don't think you can get too caught up in numbers - you can look at the history of the thing.

"Some guys who had great numbers in high school haven't turned out to be great college throwers. And guys who hadn't thrown much in high school have been excellet passers in college. I don't think you can get caught too caught up in all that."

Lilly admits he wouldn't mind the Seminoles landed an early commitment from a high-profile quarterback.

"At any position - obviously quarterback being very important - but if you can land a great player early, that's what you want to do," Lilly said.

"You uwould love to have 20 commitments going into the season if they were the right 20. That would be very nice if we could. Quarterback seems to be a position in the recent waves of early commitments, that has been a position where guys have tended to commit a little bit earlier. I don't know why that is. Maybe they want to get it out of the way so they can focus on their season. Maybe a lot of times people only take one quarterback and they want to make sure they are that one if they find the right school that best suits them. It has been a position where a lot of guys have committed early and maybe it will be this year. If it is, we certainly hope to be in that mix."

FSU's mix, of course, features a pair of juniors in starter Chris Rix and Fabian Walker, who started the Seminoles' Sugar Bowl defeat to Georgia. Redshirt freshman Wyatt Sexton made noticeable strides during spring drills, while Lorne Sam must decide between quarterback and wide receiver, where he played last season.

"As Chris and Fabian kind of battle it our right now and Wyatt's really learning, and I don't know what Lorne Sam is gonna do," Lilly said.

"Is he going to stay there or move back to wide receiver That's his decision with coach Dickey, coach (Jeff) Bowden and coach Bobby Bowden as well. I think you lose those two guys who are juniors right now (Rix and Walker), and certainly you would like to be able to get two more outstanding players in the mix to compete for that position when the time comes."

As reported initially by The Territory, Lilly has changed the Seminoles' lineup in terms of recruiting coverage.

The most notable change is in South Florida, where Odell Haggins and first-year linebackers coach Kevin Steele will take over for Jimmy Heggins. Heggins, the Seminoles' veteran offensive line coach, now has the Jacksonville area, which was covered last season by Joe Kines.

Lilly wants to make sure the Seminoles have a strong presence in South Florida and plans weekly visits to that area this year - a change from past seasons.

"South Florida -- we split that area with Odell and Coach Steele -- allows them, during the season particularly, to at least get one of them in that area each week," Lilly said.

"I don't think we've covered any fewer schools in the last couple of years than we ever did, but one week there would be five of us down there and we would go to three schools, four schools, whatever the case might be.

"We are not going to cover anymore with one guy going five times. I don't know. Maybe the perception will be that we're trying to be there more because they will see Florida State more different times rather than a big shot one time. I think it helps us being able to make sure we have somebody down there pretty much every week during the season."

Lilly says the Seminoles' focus continues to be the Sunshine State and the Southeast.

"Our home base is always going to be - even though we've had great success with players outside the state and outside the Southeast - we are always going to recruit Florida and South Georgia and the Southeastern United States first."


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