Bobby Bowden is a legend on the recruiting trail. Throughout his tenure at Florida State he has been known as a charmer with the mothers of recruits, and a guy who was easily approachable and easy to talk to. His ability to land the big-time players at the end of the recruiting process helped FSU build to their dynasty run from the late 1980s to early 2000s. At the time he had a legendary staff, guys who would recruit their tails and work till the end.
NoleDigest takes a look at 10 of the biggest signings Florida State landed on Signing Day. These 10 recruits made fans of the Seminoles extremely happy and excited when they announced for the ‘good guys'. While some of these players didn't pan out, these are the 10 guys who created the buzz that puts FSU into the national limelight.
1. Antone Smith- This may be the biggest recruiting shocker in recent memory. Almost everyone had Antone penciled into the Miami Hurricanes 2005 recruiting class. He was a fan of the Canes as a child, and he had developed relationships with the coaches there while at Pahokee. Behind the scenes he had a great visit at FSU and developed a fantastic relationship with then coach John Lilly. When Smith decided to go with his heart and choose the Seminoles, it left people picking their jaws up off the floor. People still talk about his press conference and the reactions he received, but this signing showed that FSU has the capability to land anyone in the country when they put forth the effort.
2. Ernie Sims- Ernie Sims comes from a family of Seminoles, but the coaches had to work their tails off to land the signature of Scout.com's #1 overall player in the 2003 class. In the end he made the announcement on national television, and helped make a class that was otherwise very poor, acceptable. Around 11 PM the night before Signing Day the former North Florida Christian star made the decision he chose the Noles over the Florida Gators. The bitter rivals battled until the end in one of the most heated recruiting battles that year. Sims was a star at FSU and is now one of the best young linebackers in the NFL.
3. Antwane Greenlee- Greenlee had one of the crazier recruitments of any prospect in the 2007 class. He committed early to FSU in the process, but later switched to the Georgia Bulldogs. After taking an official there he was firm and 100% to UGA. When FSU brought in Rick Trickett in January of 2007, things quickly changed. Trickett was quick in building a relationship with the standout lineman, and when he announced for FSU on Signing Day, it left many FSU fans pleasantly surprised.
4. Geno Hayes- The recruitment of Geno Hayes has to be a candidate for one of the craziest and wildest rides since recruiting became national. He committed to several schools, had a lot of leaders, and added and dropped teams on a daily basis. After a late commitment to Tennessee and a great visit to Clemson, many thought those two would be the ones battling for Hayes until Signing Day. Remember, Hayes reportedly never took an official to FSU. But at his press conference he shocked everyone and chose the hometown Seminoles when it was all said and done.
5. Fred Rouse- Granted, Fred Rouse and Florida State didn't work out. But when he announced for the Seminoles on Signing Day of 2005, it left the Seminoles with one of the best classes in the nation and made almost every fan happy that a local talent was staying home. Some felt that Rouse would head to Texas with friend Ryan Perrilloux (he later switched to LSU), but before his announcement he stated his final two were FSU and Alabama. Miami was in consideration and Texas eventually pulled out of the running. When he signed many fans thought FSU had their next great wide-out, but unfortunately it never worked out. But on Signing Day 2005, FSU proved to be great again.
6. Callahan Bright- Yet another recruit that never made it at FSU. The players FSU landed to close out the 2005 class included 4 of the 5 players on this list. On paper, it could be one of the best closings in recruiting history. Many people were touting Bright as one of the best defensive linemen in Pennsylvania history. He never qualified, but as Dave Peters said at the time, his announcement was icing on the cake.
7. Tony Carter- Florida State was Carter's childhood favorite, and in the end they landed his signature on Signing Day of 2004. Carter chose the Seminoles over North Carolina, USC and Tennessee. Carter is another player who comes from a family of Seminoles.
8. Antonio Cromartie- Antonio was the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year. Michigan, Alabama and Florida were all schools that came close to signing the All-American from Tallahassee. In fact, some think it came down to the wire between Florida and FSU. In the end the relationship with commitments Ernie Sims and DeCody Fagg, as well as the FSU coaches, helped FSU close with Antonio. Had Sims or Cromartie not been apart of the 2003 class, that class would have been an utter disaster.
9. Brandon Paul- Throughout the process Paul never really said much in terms of his recruitment. In the end many thought the Auburn Tigers were going to steal him away from the hometown Seminoles. There was even talk that the Tigers were the favorite going into the last week. In the end, Paul made several Nole fans happy and decided to stay home.
10. Damon McDaniel- Florida commitment, Florida de-commitment, FSU signee. There were rumors that McDaniel was considering the Noles after he de-committed, and those rumors were proves to be fact when he visited the Noles late in the process. When he announced on Signing Day for FSU, it left many fans ecstatic because of the playmaking ability he was capable of.
The purpose of this article was to show that, going into Signing Day tomorrow, Florida State almost always lands a big fish or two to close out the class. The 2008 class has been different in that some of the stars decided early, but there are other left out there that, with a typically strong close, will cement FSU's class as top 5 quality for this year.