No one can argue that the on-field product has not been what we've all thought. The new coaches took over a program that'd been on a swoon it hadn't seen since the 1970's. It is going to take time to fix the deficiencies, and one of the ways to fix that is bringing talented playmakers. From the time the new coaches stepped on campus, the future of the program has been in good hands in terms of the immense amount of talent that's already committed in this class.
On ESPN's critically acclaimed College Game Day show, analyst, and former Ohio State quarterback, Kirk Herbstreit stated that FSU was in a decline, due to the head coach and lack of talent coming in.
While some are beginning to debate if a change at the top is needed, one would have thought research would have been done on this topic. FSU is in need of playmakers, and so far they have several committed. It is erroneous to say FSU has not been getting it done this year when it comes to getting high school seniors to commit to their program. It is a very big statement seeing 5-star JUCO wide receiver Corey Surrency committing to the Noles over national title contender LSU, especially after the home loss to the Canes. As it stands right now, FSU ranks 8th in Scout.com's team rankings, and 5th in average stars, which is 3.76. Those numbers are only going to get better. These simple numbers show that writing off the Noles future may be a bit premature.
5 star JUCO WR Corey Surrency
FSU fans are at a state where they are looking for something to hang their hat on. Some don't realize that it is right there, with it being the new coaching staff. While some fans are wondering why there hasn't been immediate success, while most realize these coaches are proven winners and recruiters who will turn it around in due time. The early efforts from Jimbo Fisher, Odell Haggins, John Lilly, Jody Allen, Rick Trickett, Bob LaCivita and Lawrence Dawsey have been fantastic. Dexter Carter and Chuck Amato have also thrown their hats into the recruiting game and are getting very positive feedback. This group of coaches is looking for new blood in the program; guys who have lacked what this team may be missing the most: heart.
As we have seen you can have all the talent in the world on the football field, but without heart success will not be found. The majority of the guys committed in this class, from E.J. Manuel, Nigel Bradham, Vince Williams to the First Coast trio and down are all talented kids with the will to win. These kids want to be Noles and already realize that putting on that Nole uniform is still a special privilege. There has not been a class in recent memory for FSU that has been this close, and the coaches have put all their faith in this group in turning the program around.
After the tough loss this past weekend, a glimpse into the future may have been seen. Both E.J. Manuel and Jermaine Thomas, one of the most unheralded prospects in the nation, where not only cheering and rooting for the Seminoles, but they were in the locker room after the game pumping up the team, trying to get them to keep their heads up. Some would think that leaders on the team would step up, not recruits. These guys are the leaders that FSU is banking on when it comes to getting back to the dynasty years. The heart these guys showed shows that the future of this team is heading in the right direction. Those two are just examples of what fans can look forward to with this class.
The coach that has spearheaded the recruiting revival has been Jimbo Fisher. Not only has he succeeded in making the Tallahassee area a Seminole hotbed (the 2009 class may be even more prevalent with this), but he has been able to land kids from around the country. Example number one is the centerpiece of the class in E.J. Manuel. He has mentioned over and over the relationship and experience of Coach Fisher is a mitigating factor as to why he's a Seminole commitment. Before Fisher was hired, there was scuttlebutt that Nigel Bradham would go through the recruiting process and maybe not end up a Nole. The efforts of Fisher and the other coaches keep one of the nation's top players at home. Already mentioned was Corey Surrency. Without Jimbo Fisher, there is a good chance this kid is LSU bound come signing day.
Like we have mentioned numerous times, this class had needs it had to fill at quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive line, defensive line and safety. These are the areas where the Noles have struggled in getting playmakers. E.J. Manuel has shown all of the tools as a future leader of this team. Securing early commitments from Jermaine Thomas and British Footman (who is working very hard in the classroom) boosts the running back position tenfold. These standouts are versatile athletes who get it done in every facet of the game, and are guys that helped make Fisher's offense at LSU so hard to scheme against. Corey Surrency is the big time playmaker FSU hasn't seen at wide out since Anquan Bolden. Avis Commack, if we were the primary player on any other team, would be as one of the top receiver prospects in the country. These two add to the foundation of Preston Parker and Damon McDaniel at FSU.
What has been lost is that Nigel Bradham has taken the role of the leader on the defensive side of the ball, and he has helped to ensure that FSU will build a defense that fits what Mickey Andrews likes to do. He is the classic linebacker FSU has built there defense on. Nigel Carr has developed into another leader and is a kid who brings versatility to FSU. He is able to play sideline to sideline as an outside linebacker, as well as being able to put his hand down and be a rush end. Keith Wells fits the mold of traditional Nole defensive ends in that he is a big kid who brings speed off of the edge. Lacking playmakers at this spot has been one of the factors in a defense that has folded in the fourth quarter. Moses McCray has opened up his recruiting a bit, but the chance he doesn't sign with FSU is minuet. Missing on defensive tackle last year makes this standout important to this class, and he looks to be just the start to stacking the position in 2008. C.J. Holton is one of the top playmakers at safety in the nation. Safety has killed the Noles this year, and Holton brings great ball skills, coverage ability and the gift of hitting like a Mack truck to the free safety spot. Nick Moody and Travis Arnold
are other standouts that are going to add the talent and depth to the safety spot that FSU needs in the worse way.
There are several top-flight prospects that remain on the board, all of which will only make the future of the program stronger. Julio Jones, Darrell Scott, T.J. Bryant, Josh Jenkins, Brandon Thompson, Jamie Harper, Everett Dawkins and Dalton Freeman are all prospects the Noles are in it for. Guys like Deion Walker and Andrew Datko are players who are considered strong leans and guys who should be Noles on signing day. Just as schools continue to recruit Nole commitments, FSU is still in contact with guys like Toby Jackson, who showed up at the game this weekend and is a Georgia commitment. The point is there is a huge chance for the coaches to build upon the playmakers they have committed already. This class is only going to get bigger and better, as these uncommitted targets would add to the significant upgrades FSU has landed so far.
While it's hard to come to grasp with how this season is turning out, it is easy to see the future of this team is going to be bright. Not only are these players top prospects, but they are great students. FSU is looking at getting Terrence Parks, Vince Williams and maybe even Nigel Bradham as early enrollees. All of the commitments are on track to qualify, minus Footman who is working his tail off in order to fulfill his dream of playing for the Noles next year. The coaches are too good at what they do, and they are doing too great a job at landing the kids who want to be here who are not only going to be playmakers for the Noles, but kids who provide great character to the team. As long as the Noles can continue to build on what they have started, the product on the field will get better, and it'll show guys like Kirk Herbstreit that the Seminoles are having no problems getting the talented athletes it takes to move the program upwards, not downwards.