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A grand day for FSU

TAMPA — Florida State not only picked up the bay area's No. 1 recruit, Plant's James Wilder Jr., but in every county across the state it seemed the Seminoles were able to swoop in and nab the best player on national signing day.

Even in Lake City, just 35 miles from Gainesville, FSU landed touted defensive tackle Tim Jernigan — its biggest uncommitted get of the day Wednesday — out of the Gators' back yard.

In the end, 1+1+1+1 equaled No. 1 as the Seminoles put together the best class in the state and, arguably, the country.

"FSU outworked everybody," ESPNU.com analyst Corey Long said. "They got some big early commits and never gave up the momentum."

FSU's class is rated No. 1 by ESPNU.com, No. 2 by Scout.com and No. 2 by Rivals.com. It is the only school to be ranked among the top three by all three major recruiting services.

"I'm very excited," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told the Orlando Sentinel. "Everyone says we're No. 1, we're No. 2, we're No. 3. That wasn't what was important to me. I think we got the guys that we went after — that we evaluated and thought were the guys that we needed in this class for this organization and this team to move forward.

"I'm very excited that we think we not only hit our needs as far as athletically — we wanted big playmakers, big-bodied guys — but we went across the board. Every position was filled."

Long said it was doubly impressive considering FSU got Jernigan, Wilder and Belle Glade Glades Central receiver Kelvin Benjamin — Gator leaners in the spring — and Groveland South Lake defensive back Nick Waisome, who had orally committed to Florida. Jernigan said he was turned off by the coaching turnover at Florida.

This year's rankings will be incomplete until at least Valentine's Day, making it premature to declare an outright winner.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the consensus No. 1 recruit in the land, won't announce his destination until Feb. 14 (his 18th birthday). And Maryland offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandijo, ranked among the top four by all three major services, told a national television audience he was going to Auburn but never signed a letter of intent and is rethinking his decision.

Alabama, No. 1 according to Rivals.com, is in the running for both. If it gets both, it likely would vault FSU on ESPN.com's list and could rise to the top from No. 7 in Scout.com's ranking.

Or if Alabama just grabs Kou­an­dijo — his brother already plays for the Crimson Tide — it likely wouldn't be enough to pass FSU but could drop Auburn from No. 1 on Scout.com's list.

For now, the Seminoles can revel in a job well done that started in February 2010 when they got an oral commitment from Davenport Ridge safety Karlos Williams, rated No. 1 in the country at his position and the only state prospect rated among the top 10 nationwide by the three services.

Williams is considered the gem of FSU's class.

Wilder, ranked No. 1 in the country by analyst Tom Lemming, joined him as a Seminoles oral commitment in the fall, and the two went to work on the rest of the class.

"I talked to Karlos, and we thought that maybe if we (committed) early we could get the class flowing again," Wilder said. "We were trying to start something. I said, 'Look, we both want to go here. Why wait?' Let's get this class going. Let's talk to people and get this thing going."

Florida and Miami, who were routed by FSU on the playing field in the fall before each team lost its coach, weren't as fortunate with neither making a signing day splash.

The Gator class' highest ranking was No. 12 by ESPNU.com.

Miami's class received mixed reviews, rated among the 30s.

Georgia was a strong finisher, grabbing running back Isaiah Crowell and former Southern Cal recruit Kent Turnese, a linebacker. And Clemson made noise when linebacker Tony Steward decided on it instead of FSU.

The rivalry between Clemson and FSU might be turned up a few notches after the Tigers grabbed more of Rivals.com's top 25 — four to the Seminoles' two — than anyone else.

Three of those players were from Florida.

Times staff writer Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this report.

Around the state

.Fast Facts

Nation's top recruiting classes

Rivals.com

1. Alabama

2. Florida State

3. Texas

4. Southern Cal

5. Georgia

6. LSU

7. Auburn

8. Clemson

9. Notre Dame

10. Ohio State

Scout.com

1. Auburn

2. Florida State

3. Southern Cal

4. Ohio State

5. Texas

6. Georgia

7. Alabama

8. Notre Dame

9. LSU

10. Tennessee

ESPNU.com

1. Florida State

2. Alabama

3. Auburn

4. Southern Cal

5. Texas

6. Georgia

7. Ohio State

8. Clemson

9. Notre Dame

10. LSU

A grand day for FSU 02/02/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 11:51pm]

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