NoleDigest Offensive Grades
QB E.J. Manuel
Mack- Grade A+
Manuel is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He has great size and excellent athletic ability. Coach Fisher wanted Manuel to be his quarterback of the future. FSU landed a quality athlete and a high character person.
Jason- Grade A+
E.J. Manuel was the top quarterback prospect on FSU's board. Anytime you land your top prospect at this position, it's an automatic A+. Manuel is a bit raw, but he might actually be a slightly better prospect at this stage than Jamarcus Russell, who did not run quite as well as Manuel coming out of high school. Though Jimbo Fisher has stated that he will be thrown into the mix to compete for the starting position, it is likely that he will redshirt and compete for the job as a redshirt freshman. At any rate, Florida State's future at quarterback looks very bright.
Next year: The Seminoles are now on track to bring in one top quarterback every year rather than doubling up every other year. We will likely try to bring in one quarterback next year, but it is not imperative that we land a top-five player with someone like Manuel waiting in the wings.
Fish- Grade A
Before I get started let me say this class is described by one word...FOUNDATION. This class was the foundation of FSU future success. Overall, I thought the class pretty much filled most of its needs. I would have liked to have seen one more DE, DT and another safety.
FSU needed a quarterback and got one. Manuel was a top rated player at his position. Not only does Manuel have the talent to play quarterback but he has the same type of leadership qualities that Ward and Weinke had. I feel FSU hit a home run with the Manuel signing.
Nate- Grade A+
FSU needed to land a top flight quarterback, and they hit the jackpot with Manuel. Jimbo Fisher looked at many players this past year, and wanted E.J. more than any other. Manuel not only brings 5-star ability to this class, but he brings 5-star attitude and personality. Crown jewel of the offensive class.
RB- Tavares Pressley, Carlton Jones, Jermaine Thomas, Debrale Smiley
Mack- Grade B
Pressley is one of the top Junior College backs in the country. He has great size at 6'1 and 215lbs with sprinter speed. He will play early and give FSU a big back that has homerun speed. Jermaine Thomas is one of the most versatile athletes in this class. Thomas has great speed with a nice frame. He catches the ball very well for a runningback. Jones is a bigger back with good speed. Debrale Smiley could ultimately be the best one out of all of them. Smiley will be placed in a JUCO. He rushed for over 2,000 yards last year. If FSU signed another back like Harper or Blount this class grade would have been an A.
Jason- Grade A
Tavares Pressley gives FSU a big back to complement Antone Smith and a guy who should be ready to contribute right away. Pressley also has exceptional hands for a tailback and was even used occasionally in the slot in JUCO, making him a great fit for Fisher's requirements of versatile backs. Jermaine Thomas might be the most underrated player in Scout.com's ratings this year. He has exceptional speed and quickness, and he appears to have enough of a frame to get above 200 lbs. He'll never be a power back, but he gives FSU another home-run hitter in the backfield. (In addition, he is a tremendously versatile athlete who could just as easily play WR or FS, though I expect him to stay at tailback.) Ty Jones was a late find for FSU, but if his grades had been in order earlier in the process, he would likely have been rated a four-star player. He is a Jacob Hester-style back extremely well suited to Fisher's preference for big backs who can catch and block. Debrale Smiley is a good prospect at fullback, but he is likely JUCO-bound. Had the ‘Noles landed Jamie Harper, who I think was the top back in this year's class, this would have been an A+, but it is a very solid class nonetheless.
Next year: With Antone Smith and Jamaal Edwards moving on after next year (and Pressley entering as a junior), FSU will need to add at least two more tailbacks next year. Thomas' versatility allows FSU to focus on bringing in a couple bigger backs in next year's class.
Fish- Grade B
FSU missed on Jamie Harper or their running back class would have been one of the best in the country. They also passed on Enrique Davis which would have looked good on paper but probably was not in FSU best interest. Jermaine Thomas, Tavares Pressley and Ty Jones give FSU talent and depth at the position.
Nate- Grade B+
After Signing Day this position has been one of the most hotly debated among FSU fans. Many griped about the loss of Harper. The 5-star talent is great, no doubt. But FSU in no way whiffed missed or any other word you want to use to describe a bad job. Pressley is looking to come in at 225 pounds, and is a 4.3 burner who is very capable of being an every down back. Jermaine Thomas is Mr. Versatility, and will be everywhere his freshman year. Had Jones been qualified earlier, fans would be looking at a possible 4-star prospect. He had back to back 1200 yard season the past two years against the toughest teams in the Tampa area. Smiley, if he makes grades, will bring the Greg Jones-type back to FSU they've been missing. Getting Smiley and placing him was a minor coup for the staff. Finally, Footman may end up the best of the bunch. Worst case scenario, he's at FSU when Pressley leaves in two years. Most likely he'll sign in 2009.
WR/TE- Corey Surrency, Jarmon Fortson, Avis Commack, Josh Gehres, and Jabaris Little
Mack- Grade A-
Corey Surrency is going to make some plays for Florida State next season. I think he could have the similar impact that Demetrius Byrd had for LSU. Fortson is another player that I expect to contribute right away. Wide receivers are not built like him. He is a mismatch waiting to happen. Commack is a guy that I believe will be a star in the future. Avis is silky smooth and beat T.J. Bryant in a track meet last season. Gehres will be a grayshirt. Little will add depth to a position that crucially needs it. Getting John Hannah back could be the biggest addition to the team next year. FSU wanted to land Julio Jones but the group that they signed will upgrade the posion group immediately.
Jason- Grade for WR A-, Grade for TE B+
Surrency is a rare physical specimen and should start from day one. He's an instant upgrade on the outside with his size, speed, and toughness. He is legitimately over 6'4 and is one of those extremely rare players at that size with the ability to sink his hips and run smooth, precise routes. Even better is that in Pressley's highlight tape, Surrency is shown to have a mean streak on some of his downfield blocking, making him a complete receiver. Commack is a very fast player (and is also about 6'4) but is a bit raw; he's probably a good candidate to redshirt. He should fit extremely well as an outside receiver in Fisher's system and has the chance to be a real gamebreaker down the line. Jarmon Fortson will likely line up at several positions but should be considered a WR; he should be used in much the same way that Brandon Warren would have been used in Fisher's offense. His size and versatility offers the ability to run numerous formations out of the same substitution package, making it more difficult for defenses to keep the proper personnel on the field. Fortson will likely compete for serious playing time immediately, though it is unlikely that he would start as a true freshman. Gehres is another big receiver with good downfield speed and will add a nice target when he enrolls in the spring. Getting two players with a legitimate chance to contribute right away is rare, making this receiver class just what the doctor ordered. Next Year: Wideout is one position where the cupboard is no longer bare at FSU, but an infusion of more speed at the position is a must in next year's class. Expect Dawsey and company to bring in at least one big-time speedster at receiver next year, and as many as three receivers in the class overall.
The tight end position is not a position of emphasis in Jimbo Fisher's offense, but FSU desperately needed more depth at this position. Little gives FSU a very good athlete who was able to play all over the field at Lincoln. He's already big enough to be a productive blocker at the college level, giving him a chance to contribute early in the ‘Noles' jumbo packages. Receiver Jarmon Fortson will also likely get some time at H-back, providing further depth and versatility from this position.
Next Year: With Jonathan Hannah now on campus, FSU has better depth at a position that has been extremely volatile the last few years. Expect the ‘Noles to bring in one or two players at tight end next year. Again, since the tight end is not a position of emphasis in Fisher's offense, loading up at this position is never a must, though having at least two elite guys on roster will always be the goal.
Fish- Grade B+
Land Jones or Butler and this grade goes to an A. They did get a very good receiver in Corey Surrency. He will play this year. Commack was also a very good receiver that the noles landed. Forston gives FSU so many options. He can line up at WR or TE....He is a big time get. Jabaris Little is a solid TE...Nothing less, nothing more.
Nate- Grade for WR A-, Grade for TE B
Wide receiver was not a major need for the Seminoles. They wanted to bring in two in this class, and they landed two of the best for next year, and landed a guy in Gehers that has the potential to be a great 3rd receiver for the Noles. Had FSU landed Jones, the Seminoles would have hit the mother load. But with Surrency they get an instant impact guy, and Commack is a deep threat who's deadly with the ball in his hands.
Getting Jonathan Hannah into school in January was big for the coaches, especially when Allen dropped the Noles. Little is a versatile player who played all over the field at Lincoln. At FSU he'll play TE, and he'll be depended on to contribute immediately. I think this is one of the better players fans aren't talking about.
OL- Zebrie Sanders, Andrew Datko, Rhonne Sanderson, David Spurlock, Garrett Faircloth, Blake Snider
Mack- Grade A
Coach Trickett did an excellent job on the recruiting trail this year. He got one of the best group of offensive lineman that FSU has signed in the last couple of years. Sanders is the prototypical lineman and a future star. Datko has great size, athletic ability and a nasty streak. Spurlock was the best offensive lineman in Tennessee this year and runner up for Mr. Tennessee in football. Sanderson is a guy that will be a great lineman in the future. He won the top lineman award over Matt Patchen this past season. Faircloth is a player that needs to continue to develop but he has great upside. Coach Trickett loves Snider. If FSU landed Josh Jenkins this class grade would have been an A++.
Jason- Grade A
Rick Trickett was able to bring in a bevy of players that fit his mold—quick, tough players with high motors that will get stronger as they start a college weight program. There isn't a weak link in this group, though it will likely take as many as three years to see the contributions of several of these players. FSU did not need an immediate starter on the OL in this class (though all positions will be open in the fall), but quality bodies were desperately needed for depth and to prepare for the future. That goal was met in spades. Had Josh Jenkins signed with the ‘Noles, this class would have been an A+.
Next Year: I would expect the ‘Noles to try to sign around four OLs next year—typically we'll try to carry around 15–16 linemen in a given season. Rick Trickett's makeover of the FSU OL is taking shape nicely.
Fish- Grade A
Losing Josh Jenkins hurts but FSU wanted four linemen and almost got five. Sanders, Datko and Spurlock are all real nice prospects. Faircloth, Sanderson and Snider bring depth to a position that sorely needed it.
Nate- Grade A
Andrew Datko is the only player who signed that FSU fans talked about last year. Rick Trickett goes out and finds his kids, guys who are smart and hard-nosed. While they aren't big name kids, each player is one of the best in his prospective states. Sanders won the Anthony Munoz award, Datko was 5A All-State, Spurlock was a finalist for Mr. Lineman in Tennessee and on the state's "Dream Team", Sanderson won the award for Tampa area's top lineman and was 4A All-State, Snider is getting early comparisons to Rodney Hudson, and Faircloth was All-State as a defensive lineman at Bolles. Great class for FSU. Look for Sanders, Spurlock and Datko to play right away.
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