Florida State commitments put on some kind of showing Jan. 5 at the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, including an MVP performance from Hueytown (AL) High School quarterback Jameis Winston, who was one of six potential 'Noles doing his thing on national television.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl, on the other hand, played Jan. 7 in San Antonio, only had two FSU commits participating. However, they were perhaps the two most likely to indeed fax their letters of intent to Tallahassee on National Signing Day (Feb. 1) and officially become Seminoles: Prattville (AL) High School defensive tackle Justin Shanks and Stone Mountain (GA) High School linebacker Markuss Eligwe.
Along with Defuniak Springs (FL) Walton Senior High School's Dalvon Stuckey, Shanks is one of two commitments Florida State currently has at arguably its deepest position. The top four on the D-tackle depth chart -- starters Everett Dawkins and Anthony McCloud, backups Cameron Erving and Timmy Jernigan -- all return in 2012, plus there are a handful of other scholarships players fighting for snaps. The Seminoles are so deep in the interior that Derrick Mitchell, fresh off a redshirt, could be a candidate to make a switch to offensive line.
Allen Trieu, a national recruiting analyst for Scout.com, was on hand for every practice in San Antonio and also the game itself, and he came away impressed with the 6-4, 320-pounder.
"Shanks had a really good week," said Trieu. "I really liked his pad level and discipline. He's a polished kid, but he had good results in the one-on-ones and also made a lot of plays when they did full scrimmages."
Because of his sheer size, Shanks is most likely to line up at nose tackle for defensive line coach Odell Haggins, which would put him in competition with McCloud, Jernigan and a few others.
As for Eligwe, he is presently the lone commit FSU has on the board at linebacker, which has to be considered relatively thin at this point because of the graduation of top tackler Nigel Bradham and the exit of promising freshman Arrington Jenkins. Assuming the heralded Jeff Luc steps in for Bradham on the weak side and performs up to expectations, the 'Noles have to like their starting options with Vince Williams and Telvin Smith rotating in the middle and Christian Jones over on the strong side. Nevertheless, behind that quartet, there are only untested types like Terrance Smith and Nigel Terrell. Even if coach Jimbo Fisher and Co. are quite confident in Eligwe, a second linebacker would be a welcome addition to the class of 2012.
Bob Lichtenfels, another one of the national recruiting analysts for Scout.com, also spent the week at the Army game and got a close look at Eligwe.
"In an all-star type of an event, it is very hard for linebackers to stand out," Lichtenfels said. "Eligwe was solid, not spectacular, in this format, in which it is more coverage than stopping the run. From what I was able to see during the week of practice, he may project best as a Mike 'backer. He is a pretty thick kid who is only going to get bigger. He doesn't seem to shy away from contact and is good in read-and-react situations. He appears to be better at playing in the box than out in space."
As previously stated, Florida State already has Williams and Smith sharing Mike duty, although Williams has but one season of eligibility left and Smith is not a prototypical middle linebacker.
John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
Experts comment on Shanks, Eligwe
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