FSU Recruiting Regions: Florida Panhandle

We look at how Florida State has fared in its home region of the Florida Panhandle. Hint: think boom and bust.

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 fifth installment of our series with the Florida Panhandle area.

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.

Florida Panhandle


4-star Brandon Paul (CB/WR): Transfered to North Alabama. Final Grade: 0-Star

4-star Bert Reed (WR): Reed was a multi-year starter and despite his size limitations was one of the most consisent players on the roster during his time at Florida State. He finished his career with 2,022 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Final Ranking: 4-Star

2-Star Aaron Gresham (LB): Medically disqualified. Final Ranking: N/A

3-star Bernard Brinson (CB): Academic issues. Never played at FSU. Final Ranking: 0-star


2-star Josh Gehres (WR): More of a message board hero than anything else, Gehres never made an impact at Florida State. Final Ranking: 2-star

3-star Travis Arnold (S): Never made it on campus. Final Ranking: 0-star

3-star Ja’Baris Little (TE): Caught just three passes and one touchdown in his career at Florida State. He provided depth at the position but little more. Final Ranking: 2-star

5-star Nigel Bradham (LB): Bradham came in to Florida State with high expectations and he delivered. He was particularly known for his vicious hitting and will be remembered by Seminole fans for being wrongly ejected after forcefully removing the air from Miami receiver Laron Boyd’s lungs as a senior. Bradham finished his career with 295 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 interceptions. Final Ranking: 5-star

3-star Anthony Hill (DT): Never made it on campus. Final Ranking: 0-star


4-star Brandon Jenkins (DE): Jenkins was an outstanding pass rusher at Florida State before suffering a Lisfranc injury that ended his Seminole career. He finished his career with 22.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble in three years. Final Ranking: 5-star

4-star Chris Thompson (RB): Thompson’s career would have been vastly different if not for a back injury, but he still made the most of the time he had. Thompson had 846 yards his sophomore year, but broke two vertebrae in his back at the beginning of his junior year. He made his comeback in 2012 and ran for 687 yards in just 8 games before tearing his ACL and ending his Seminole career. Final Ranking: 4-star

4-star C.J. Mizell (LB): Never made it on campus. Final Ranking: 0-star

4-star JuJuan Harley (S): Transferred to Middle Tennessee State. Final Ranking: 0-star

4-star Willie Downs (S): Never made it on campus. Final Ranking: 0-star

5-star Jacobbi McDaniel (DT): McDaniel was highly thought of coming out of high school and started as a freshman. This was both good and bad, as McDaniel was nicked up a bit during that freshman year and was never able to develop quite as much as one might have hoped on his arrival. This was compounded when McDaniel went through a nasty broken leg in 2011, which prevented him from playing in 2012. McDaniel returned in 2013 and was a key player during FSU’s national championship run, providing quality depth at several spots on the FSU DL. McDaniel also briefly got on the field for the Cleveland Browns as a rookie. Final Ranking: 4-star


3-star Clint Trickett (QB): Trickett played sparingly during his career at Florida State, but will be remembered for his long touchdown pass against Oklahoma and his performance against Clemson in 2011. He transferred to (and eventually started for) West Virginia after it became apparent Jameis Winston would be the starter. Final Ranking: 3-star


3-star Sterling Lovelady (C): Lovelady never made an impact at Florida State but provided depth for several years. Final Ranking: 2-star


3-star Dalvon Stuckey (DT): Never made it on campus. Final Ranking: 0-star


4-star Ira Denson (OG): Kicked off the team for stealing from a teammate. Final Ranking 0-star

4-star Isaiah Jones (WR): Not off to a good start as he was academically ineligible in 2014, when his size on the outside would have been especially helpful.


3-star Derrick Kelly (OT)

3-star Johnathan Vickers (RB)

2-star Stephen Gabbard (LS)

4-star Jacob Pugh (LB)

4-star Delvin Purifoy (LB)


Projected Average: 3.42 Stars

Final Average: 1.63 Stars

Performance/Projection Ratio: .47 (below 1.0 is “below expectations”)


Ouch. Florida State fans may need to wash their eyes out after this one. The Panhandle has easily had the worst performance ratio, not just in Florida, but in the country for the Seminoles. The one positive to take away is that when FSU has hit on a player from the Panhandle, that player has been a star.

This region has been boom-or-bust. Out of 19 players Florida State has taken between 2007 and 2013 from this region, just four of them received a 3-star or 2-star final rating. The rest were either full on busts (9) or wound up performing like 4 or 5-star players (5). Those busts have typically been due to academic or character problems, which seem to have plagued this region more than elsewhere.



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