One That Got Away: C.J. Spiller

Over the past few weeks readers of NoleDigest have given their input on new ideas they'd like to see on the site. Today NoleDigest starts a new feature called "One That Got Away", which is a piece that looks at recruits that Florida State just missed out on. First up is Clemson running back C.J. Spiller.

C.J. Spiller is entering his final season at Clemson. After sharing the load for 3 years with James Davis the Tiger running back enters this season primed for great senior year. When Florida State fans think of recent misses on the recruiting front Spiller is one of the first names that often come to mind. After all, Spiller was once considered a near "lock" to be a Seminole in college.

His recruitment:

C.J. is one of the best running backs to come out of Florida over the past 5 years. As a sophomore and junior he was the fastest guy timed at any Scout.com combine, but he was more than just a speed back. Spiller was flat out explosive as he had 1,800 yards on only 167 carries to go along with his 30 touchdowns scored.

Spiller grew up a huge fan of FSU and former running back Warrick Dunn. That fact, combined with how he wore #28 in honor of Dunn, led many to think that Spiller was a heavy lean to FSU entering the 2006 recruiting process. While FSU sat atop his list throughout, looking back that really wasn't the case.

C.J. took an open approach to his recruitment as he really looked at the offenses each program had and the offensive lines that would be blocking for him. Schools like Miami, Michigan, USC, Nebraska, Tennessee and several others were all considered by Spiller at some time. He even flip-flopped his top schools most of the early part of his recruitment. At the end of the day, though, it came down to 3 schools for Spiller: FSU, Florida and Clemson.

Those three schools fit Spiller's needs as they combined academics with the ability to excel on the football field. Heading into the final days of his recruitment C.J. privately eliminated FSU and had a final 2 of Florida and Clemson.
That decision shocked many as Spiller had said throughout that he had a tremendous relationship with the coaching staff, but when fans look at it FSU was in a bad place with a weak offensive coordinator in Jeff Bowden and an offensive line coach in Mark McHale that seemed to be a fish out of water. It has long been thought that Jeff Bowden was a primary reason why FSU missed on this super talented running back. There was even a rumor during his recruitment that Spiller had called the coaches at FSU to tell them to stop recruiting Carlos Brown because he was coming.

In the end he chose Clemson. Spiller is a spiritual kid, and he felt that God led him there. Entering the 2009 season it looks like Spiller made a good decision for himself.

Why he made the list:

While FSU is stacked at running back now Spiller is a player that any team would want no matter how loaded they are. Even though FSU had signed Antone Smith in 2005 and Jamaal Edwards and Lamar Lewis in 2004, Spiller was a need. Edwards was injury prone and Lewis left FSU due to playing time issues. Spiller most likely would have challenged Antone for carries, and he would have brought the abilities we see now to the offense that FSU didn't have.

Last year C.J. was the ACC leader in all-purpose yards, second in kick and punt return yards (his ability as a special team standout makes is an added dimension that makes him a probable NFL 1st round pick), and one of the top pass catchers out of the backfield in the nation. In fact he set a school record for running backs with 436 receiving yards last year.

C.J. will most likely leave Clemson as the ACC's all-time leader in all-purpose yards as he needs a little over 900 yards to break the record. Baring an injury Spiller will leave his mark as one of the most multi-faceted players the ACC has ever seen.


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