Breaking down the class of 2008

Florida State signed 32 players in its 2008 recruiting class. Four years have passed, and only 10 players from that class will be on the roster in 2012. We take a look at the good, the solid and the bad of one of Bobby Bowden's last recruiting classes.

The Good

E.J. Manuel: The five-star prospect was ranked as the No. 2 QB in the country by Scout.com. After spot starting for an injured Christian Ponder in 2009 and 2010, he took over the reins in 2011 and led FSU to nine wins. He enters his senior season with 4,344 career passing yards, 517 rushing yards and a ratio of 24 to 18 TDs to INTs. There has never been any question about his tools, and he is in position for a money year in 2012.

Jermaine Thomas: The three-star ball carrier was ranked as the nation's No. 46 running back. Thomass best year was as a sophomore, when he ran for 832 yards. He leaves FSU with over 2,000 yards rushing, which is an excellent career.

Beau Reliford: The two-star tight end never made a huge impact in the passing game, but he started a bunch of games at FSU. Very, very raw coming out of high school, he learned the position and is somewhat on the NFL radar. He possessed the size and athleticism to succeed but never fully grasped the offense.

Zebrie Sanders: The four-star offensive tackle started since he was a freshman. He quietly had an outstanding career at FSU, and you would sign him again without thinking twice about it. Firmly on the NFL radar, Sanders will likely be drafted in Round 2 or 3.

Andrew Datko: He would have been another four-year starter if not for a shoulder injury that cut his senior season short. An unheralded three-star recruit coming out of powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas, Datko exceeded expectations. He was rock solid at one of the most important positions on the field. If he can get past the injury, he will play in the league.

Anthony McCloud: FSU had to wait for McCloud, as he was forced to go to JUCO due to grades. Ranked a two-star athlete because of that, he was a four-star talent. He redshirted and has essentially started for two years with one year to go. McCloud is a space eater inside with excellent athleticism. FSU is deep with seniors at the defensive tackle position, and McCloud may be the best prospect of the bunch for the next level.

Everett Dawkins: There was some question as to whether Dawkins would be an end or a tackle. Those questions made him a three-star player. He has added the weight and played defensive tackle, where his quickness inside is his best asset. Dawkins has played a ton during his career and has one year left. Very dependable, Dawkins is perhaps the most consistent defensive lineman at FSU. He always gives 100 percent.

Markus White: JUCO defensive end that was a starter for two years and then drafted to go the NFL. He did exactly what was expected of him at FSU.

Nigel Bradham: A five-star recruit, Bradham was a three-year starter and played a ton as a freshman as well. Bradham will be drafted next month, likely in the top three rounds. He really came on as a senior after adjusting to the new scheme and breaking some bad habits.

Vince Williams: Williams was a backup for his first three seasons but took over the starting role at last year as a redshirt junior. Solid at middle linebacker, Williams got better as the season progressed. He enters spring with a firm hold on the starting job. He's the brother of highly-touted sophomore safety Karlos Williams.

Nick Moody: Moody started as a sophomore, but injuries made him miss significant time as a junior. Nicknamed "hit stick," Moody is making the move to outside linebacker and will compete with Jeff Luc and Telvin Smith for the starting spot. He's a starting-caliber player.

Solid

Debrale Smiley: Like McCloud, Smiley went to JUCO and redshirted. He has yet to make an impact at FSU but does provide valuable depth as a big back. It is now or never for Smiley in the spring.

Corey Surrency: He is listed here because FSU only got one year out of him due to a ridiculous ruling by the NCAA. Surrency was poised for a huge season when he was shelved.

Josh Gehres: Hard-working local product that was fighting for playing time when he suffered a devastating knee injury. His future is in doubt, as he tries to work his way into the mix against the deepest group of returning receivers in the country.

Ja'Baris Little: Little played for four seasons and was depth, but he never made an impact on the field at FSU.

David Spurlock: Spurlock missed large parts of his last two seasons because of issues stemming from concussions. He was clearly in line to be with the top group before that.

Garrett Faircloth: Spot starter and valuable depth. Because of a grayshirt, Faircloth is the only player who still has two years of eligibility remaining. An injury to his hip has his future in doubt.

Moses McCray: The top candidate for most unlucky in this class, it has been one injury after another for this talented defensive lineman. He has one more opportunity to get into the rotation, and that will be this spring before Eddie Goldman and Justin Shanks arrive.

Ty Jones: Solid running back that saw his carries diminish over the past two seasons. Jones lacked breakaway speed, and freshman Devonta Freeman took his carries last year. Valuable depth.

The Bad

Tavares Pressley: Made no impact after suffering a pair of injuries.

Ed Imeokparia: In over his head from the get go, Imeokparia never saw the field.

A.J. Alexander: Highly-touted small-school star that never found any rhythm at FSU. Transferred out. Caught 25 balls last year for St. Francis.

Jarmon Fortson: A starter that was poised for a breakout 2010 campaign, Fortson was dismissed from the team due to a violation of team rules. He also got into trouble at North Alabama.

Avis Commack: The former wide receiver was making a run at cornerback and had a shot at playing time in 2012 before being dismissed from the team following an arrest.

Rhonne Sanderson: Despite a lean depth chart, Sanderson was never able to break through to be a true starter along the offensive line.

Joe Tonga: No impact at FSU.

Blake Snider: Injuries ruined his career.

Anthony Hill: Did not get in academically. Played at USF and was just decent.

Toshmon Stevens: Still on the roster but has not made any impact at FSU. Qualty special teamer, though.

Nigel Carr: Like Fortson, he was a starter but got dismissed from the team for violations of team rules. Also played at North Alabama.

Travis Arnold: No impact at FSU.

Summary

There are 11 players that make the "good" category, which is a little over 33 percent of the class. That is not bad. Another eight make the "solid" category. Injuries are a big part of why that solid category did not make it to the good.

The main issue is that this is Florida State, and not a single member of this class will be a first-round draft choice. Manuel is really the only guy that has a chance, and he will need to put together a great senior season.

This class has produced records of 9-4, 7-6, 10-4 and 9-4 for an overall record of 35-18. It did win four bowl games, however.

How close is it to being much better? Pretty close. If Fortson and Carr behave correctly and injuries do not sideline McCray, Spurlock and Faircloth, we might be singing a different tune. But health and behavior are a part of college football, and FSU was a bit unlucky in that regard.


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