Since 2007, Florida State has signed recruits from 23 different states. As is true with every program, some have turned out to be superstars while others have failed to live up to expectations. The Seminoles’ hit rate in Jimbo Fisher’s tenure, however, has been unusually good, even for an elite program.
In order to get a better picture of where Florida State has had the most success, we have broken down Florida State’s recruiting by region, also dividing Florida itself into five regions. We start here with the Miami region.
It is important to clarify realistic expectations for given recruits, as a 5-star should obviously be measured by a different standard of expectations than a 2-star. Our standard expectations to be applied in these articles are as follows:
5-stars: Expected to be a difference-maker at his position, a multi-year starter, potential All-ACC or All-American selection, and high draft pick.
4-stars: Expected to be a solid starter and an eventual draft pick.
3-stars: Expected to make a significant impact for at least one year.
2-stars: Expected to provide depth.
Players can obviously exceed, meet, or underperform relative to these expectations.
For this series, we will re-rank each player based their Florida State career. A player who plays like a 5-star will add 5 points to his region. The same system will be used for players who are in the 2 to 4-star range. A player who transfers away from Florida State, does not qualify, or is dismissed before making a contribution will be given zero stars. Medical disqualifications will not count against the region.
The total points will then be divided by the number of eligible signees to get the average for the region. Players who have signed within the last two years will not be included in this final calculation, as it is generally too early to assess their impact.
3-star Maurice Harris (LB): Undersized linebacker Harris played a bit role in six games before being arrested for felony grand theft in 2009, charges that were ultimately dropped. A neck injury against Georgia Tech in 2009 ended his career. Final Grade: 1-star
3-star Andrew Datko (OT): Datko started for Florida State despite being plagued with injuries throughout his career, likely the result of having been forced into duty so early before he was physically ready. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. Final Grade: 4-star
2-star Beau Reliford (TE): Reliford was a three-year starter at FSU but struggled to pick up his assignments throughout his career. He was not much of a receiving threat and missed a number of significant blocks in the running game over the years, but he was nevertheless the starter at that spot for three years. Final Grade: 3-star
4-star Rodney Smith (WR): Smith was a bit of an enigma at FSU, as he occasionally flashed 5-star talent but never quite made the leap. Nevertheless, he met his expectations as a multi-year starter before eventually signing with the Minnesota Vikings. Final Grade: 4-star
3-star Xavier Rhodes (WR/CB): Rhodes exceeded expectations by becoming an All-ACC player and a first round draft pick. Final Grade: 5-star
5-star Lamarcus Joyner (CB/S): Joyner lived up to his 5-star billing as a multi-year starter at two different positions and a key leader on the 2013 national championship team. His senior year he was named a consensus All-American and was drafted in the 2nd round. Final Grade: 5-star
4-star Devonta Freeman (RB): Freeman was FSU’s most reliable running back for three years and exceeded expectations by becoming an All-ACC player and a fourth-round draft pick and the first Seminole since Warrick Dunn to rush for over 1,000 yards. Final Grade: 5-star
5-star Bobby Hart (OT): Though initially slated for a redshirt, Hart started the final nine games of his true freshman season at the tender age of 17 due to the rash of injuries the FSU offensive line experienced in 2010. Hart found himself in Rick Trickett’s doghouse as a sophomore, working primarily at offensive guard behind Tre' Jackson and Josue Matias. Hart made significant strides between his sophomore and junior seasons and started every game at right tackle in 2013. Hart struggled at times in 2014 and didn’t play nearly as well as expected. That being said he still started nearly 40 games for Florida State and will be drafted. Final Grade: 4-star
3-star Nile-Lawrence Stample (DT): Lawrence-Stample was a solid backup as a RS-Sophomore in 2013 and was slated to be the starting NT in the fall after being the most consistently dominant interior lineman during the spring. He tore a pectoral muscle during the Clemson game and did not return until Oregon. He is outperforming his rating so far, we’ll give him a tentative 4-star. Current Grade: 4-star
4-star Rashad Greene (WR): A no-brainer here. Greene has started since his freshman year and is leaving as arguably the best receiver in Florida State history. Final Grade: 5-star
2-star Austin Barron (C): Like Hart, Barron was thrust into action as a true freshman and performed well in two of his three starts (Boston College and Notre Dame) while struggling against Miami. Barron started the first five games of the 2015 season before breaking his snapping hand. Even when he was able to come back from Injury Cam Erving had taken his spot. Barron never wowed anyone, but considering what was expected of him when he came in he overperformed. Final Grade: 3-star
3-star Arrington Jenkins (LB): A known character risk during recruitment (which kept his rating down to begin with, Jenkins was dismissed for criminal behavior. Final Grade: 0-star
3-star Ruben Carter (OL): Carter has provided solid depth to this point, but has decided to transfer from Florida State when it was clear he wasn’t going to win a starting job. Final Grade: 2-star
5-star Mathew Thomas (LB)
3-star Jesus Wilson (WR)
4-star John Franklin (QB)
5-star Ermon Lane (WR)
5-star Dalvin Cook (WR)
3-star Fred Jones (DT)
4-star Da’Vante Phillips (WR)
4-star Calvin Brewton (S)
Total Recruits: 21 (13 from 2007–2012)
Projected Average 2007–2012: 3.5 stars
Final Average: 3.5 stars
Performance/Projection Ratio: 1.0 (1.0 Meets Expectations)
Florida State has had increasing success in Miami since Fisher took over the program as reflected by the six highly regarded signees from 2013–2014, and that’s a good thing given the way this region has largely met expectations to date—a rare distinction as we’ll see in upcoming articles.
Most of FSU’s success in the Broward/Dade region over the past few years has come from one school: St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale), which produced Datko, Joyner, Hart, Barron, and Greene, an astonishing list of five players who have met or exceeded expectations.
One takeaway here is therefore that if St. Thomas Aquinas has a highly regarded player, it’s probably a good idea to sign him, especially on the line.