Recruiting Road Map

FSU recruiting coordinator John Lilly has spent the past two weeks in South Florida, concentrating on Palm Beach and Broward counties. Lilly, who attended a prep jamboree Thursday night in Ft. Lauderdale, and Seminole assistants wind up their spring recruiting effort Saturday. Lilly has seen a couple of interesting trends develop -- more head coaches seem to be on the recruiting trail and the Florida staff, under first-year coach Ron Zook, was "very, very active in Florida."

John Lilly believes a furious finish is one key to recruiting. Even in May.

That's why Lilly, Florida State's recruiting coordinator, plans to spend his final day on the official NCAA spring time clock at home Saturday telephoning Seminole recruits in hope to make a lasting impression.

"You get one telephone call per recruit in May, and I prefer to do them later in the month than earlier because some guys get so many that they forget who they talked to by the end of the month," Lilly said Thursday evening. "I would rather be the last voice they heard than the first one."

While college coaches can remain on the road until May 31, according to NCAA rules, the Seminoles will reach their allotted period Saturday. (Coaches can visit schools and pound the trail for four weeks during a seven-week block).

Lilly, who began his trek in California nearly a month ago, has spent his final two weeks in South Florida, concentrating on Palm Beach and Broward counties. Lilly spent Thursday in Ft. Lauderdale, where he planned to watch a jamboree later tonight. When the buzzer rings on FSU this weekend, Seminole assistant coaches will have visited each and every high school in the state of Florida as well as covered their out-of-state responsibilities.

Lilly believes the Seminoles were effective and efficient.

"A lot of times you are not completely sure until you get back in and you can really sit there and look at what everybody has seen and what everybody has done and been able to do," Lilly said.

"Personally, and just from the conversations everybody has had with each other, I think we are where we need to be. Or where we always are anyway. Everybody in America is in the same place right now. Everybody is out there trying to figure out who they are going to recruit and trying to do a really good job of evaluating all the prospects. You want to see if the guys you thought were outstanding prospects, were they want you thought? Sometimes they were a little better, sometimes maybe they weren't quite as good and certainly you are going to find some other guys every once in a while."

Of course, FSU is also waiting word on incoming signees whose academic status remains unresolved. The Seminoles could likely lose three -- DiShon Platt, Lonnie Davis and Chris Anderson. While that string plays out, Lilly and staff will concentrate on trimming their list of 400 to 500 names for February's roll call.

The Seminoles also have a number of quality players in their own backyard, starting with North Florida Christian's Ernie Sims and Lincoln's Antonio Cromartie and Ryan Gilliam.

"When you first come back in everybody has a boatload (of recruits) that they like," Lilly said. "You have to have it that way because you want to try and size everything up. And some areas are going to have more guys than other. You try to take all that for what it's worth, too. It's very difficult to say, 'Okay, we are going to take everyone's top 10 and recruit them.' Well, the 25th guy in one guy's area might be better than the fifth guy in another guy's area. That's just the way it works. For years, different areas may be stronger than others."

Lilly and staff will recharge their batteries during June before hunkering back down in July in preparation for the start of two-a-day practices. Recruiting also will come into better focus.

"You probably cut it (list) down a little more in the summer and then early in the fall because what happens, you might have 50 kids right now you have seen in a month that you are like, 'This is really a good kid,'" Lilly said. "A guy we have to really recruit.

"Well, when you get into the fall, and you are allowed to make one phone call a week, you are not going to call 50 kids and do a very good job of it. You might call them but you are not going to say very much and you are not going to get to know them very well and they are certainly not going to get to know you.

"You kind of trim it down a little bit more as it goes on. I think also the thing that happens you start to get a feel for certain guys and who you may get and who you may not get. Therefore, some guys you might have been recruiting that was a second-teir guy, or whatever at one point, may fall off if you start to realize that, hey, you are going to get enough guys at this position. So, this happens as you go through the summer and into the fall."

Lilly, who spent the entire four weeks on the road while other FSU assistants alternated one week in the office, said he noticed some interesting trends. First, Lilly said more head coaches seem to be on the recruiting trail and the Florida staff, under first-year coach Ron Zook, was "very, very active in Florida."

"The biggest trend I think was probably there were more head coaches out this year than I have ever seen," Lilly said.

"Most of them are new at their place or they are young, whatever the case may be there. I don't think there's any need to send Coach (Bobby) Bowden out in the spring. Visits from head coaches I think really lose a little bit when they've been already in there before. I see these guys a lot and I am always asking them because you always want to try to improve on what you do. While I didn't run into coach Zook directly, they've been more visible but that doesn't mean they were invisible in the past. Personally, I ran into them (Gator coaches) more directly in the past, but from what I understand coach Zook handled a lot of it himself."

While Lilly's days on the road are numbered this spring, that doesn't mean the Seminoles can relax. Lilly will be busy Saturday on the telephone. Recruits then can telephone FSU coaches on their dime in June. In July, the favor is reversed. Players can call the Seminoles collect or ring the school's 1-800 number. FSU also must formulate a plan for when recruits make unofficial visits, as well as official visits next fall, due to the construction at the Moore Athletic Center.

"We have to do a really good job this year on those type of visits and our official visits when that time comes around at really checking to make sure we've got a good plan for what they are going to do because of all the construction," Lilly said. "There's not as much as we can show them as there normally is. Overall, I am pleased with where we are at this moment. Right now we are just trying to wind things down."

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