Evaluating Recruiting Regions: South Florida

A look at FSU's recruiting hit rate in South Florida (not including Miami) shows that the region has underperformed expectations since 2007.

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 continue with the second installment of our series with south Florida (not including Miami), the second of the five Florida regions.

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 for 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.

South Florida


3-star Jatavius Jackson (OG): Non-contributor. Final Grade: 0-star

3-star AJ Ganguzza (OC): Played a bit on special teams but didn’t make much contribution while on campus. Final Grade: 1-star


4-star Lonnie Pryor (RB/FB): Pryor was a multi-year starter at fullback and is currently on the Buffalo Bills roster. Final Grade: 4-star

3-star Henry Orelus (OG): Orelus showed early promise but got buried on the depth chart after an injury and ultimately transferred to Akron. Final Grade: 2-star

3-star Bryan Stork (TE/OT): Stork moved from tight end to center, where he won the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center as a senior. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round. Final Grade: 5-star


5-star Jeff Luc (LB): Luc struggled in coverage and never met expectations before transferring to Cincinnati. Final Grade: 0-star

4-star Greg Dent (WR): Dent was an early contributor and was arguably the Seminoles’ best receiver in the spring of 2013, but he was dismissed that summer due to a sexual assault charge. Final Grade: 2-star

4-star DeJoshua Johnson (WR): Johnson never made it to campus. Final Grade: 0-star


4-star Nick O’Leary (TE): O’Leary was a finalist for the Mackey Award in 2013 and won the ward in 2014. He holds nearly every record by a tight end in Florida State history. He is also Jack Nicklaus’ grandson. Not sure if that’s ever been mentioned. Final Grade: 5-star

4-star Kelvin Benjamin (WR): Benjamin only started one season for Florida State, but he made it count. A freak specimen at the position, Benjamin was selected in the first round of last year’s draft, pushing his grade to the top. Final Grade: 5-star

4-star Giorgio Newberry (DE): Newberry was a better tackle prospect than at end and has not yet found his spot at FSU, moving from defensive end to tight end last season and then to defensive tackle for this year. The move never saw dividends as Newberry played sparringly in 2014. Current Grade: 2-star

3-star Lamarcus Brutus (DB): Brutus finally got his chance to play in 2014 and came up with two interceptions. It is unclear whether he will be able to get onto the field in 2015 with the addition of some high touted freshman and Trey Marshall having a year in the system. Still he provided quality depth this season. Current Grade: 3-star

3-star Keelin Smith (DB): Smith showed flashes early as a true freshman but got passed up by other, more elite CB recruits. Current Grade: 2-star


5-star Mario Pender (RB): Pender has not lived up to his billing so far as he had yet to set foot on the field due to injury (2012) and academic ineligibility (2013). In 2014 Pender was again injury prone and was passed by freshman phenom Dalvin Cook. Pender will get his chance in 2015 and needs to make the most of it. Current Grade: 3-star


4-star Keith Bryant (DT)


4-star Travis Rudolph (WR)


Projected Average: 3.64

Final Average: 2.43

Performance/Projection Ratio: 0.67 (below 1.0 is “below expectations”)


Southeast Florida has been a relatively fruitful area in terms of numbers over the past seven years for FSU, with 16 signees hailing from this region. But the region has been very hit and miss, with six of those 16 prospects being busts (defined here as a player performing two or more levels below his projection) and Stork, Pryor, O’Leary, and Benjamin all living up to or exceeding their expectations.

The 2007 and 2010 classes were disastrous, with Greg Dent the only player out of five that made any appreciable contribution in a Seminole uniform—and he was dismissed from the team before he could make a major impact in 2013.

The result is a region that with a relatively poor hit ratio of .67, meaning FSU has gotten about 67% of expected performance out of recruits from this region so far—and that is without factoring Pender’s lack of contributions to this point into the equation. Rudolph is in position to improve that, but the track record of this region is not outstanding.



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