TALLAHASSEE — As soon as coach Jim Grobe arrived at Wake Forest eight years ago, he circled North Carolina as the logical place to start recruiting. But a key to his success has been where he and his staff have headed next.
"We typically work south," Grobe said.
Georgia has been good to the Demon Deacons.
Florida has been very good to the Demon Deacons.
This year, there are 26 Florida natives on the roster, which is the most among Division I-A teams that aren't found in Florida. That includes three starters from Pahokee High, CB Alphonso Smith, DE Antonio Wilson and WR D.J. Boldin.
"At Wake Forest, we've not only got to find good football players, but we've got to find kids who can come to Wake Forest and do okay academically," Grobe said.
"And we've been able to do that in Florida. We started looking down there our first year at Wake Forest, and when we found out how good it can be for us, it's just expanded. As we get more kids out of Florida, it kind of snowballs. When you get a good kid, if he's happy, he tells other kids and parents tell parents. That's kind of what's happening."
Familiar faces: FSU's Antone Smith was a prep teammate of Alphonso Smith, Wilson and Boldin, but there are other high school ties between the two teams — FSU DT Everette Dawkins and Wake C Trey Bailey went to Byrnes (S.C.) High; FSU OL Rhonne Sanderson and Wake RB Lovell Jackson are Plant grads; FSU C Ryan McMahon and P Shawn Powell as well as Wake LB Chantz McClinic and DE Derricus Ellis all went to the Darlington (Ga.) School; and FSU DE Kevin McNeil and Wake S Kevin Patterson are alumni of Camden County (Ga.) High.
Gano returns: FSU senior Graham Gano, who was slated to handle all the kicking duties but had surgery on the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Aug. 22, returned and attempted his first collegiate field goal, a 52-yarder, midway through the second quarter that was long enough but wide left.
Zeroes on board: By not scoring in the first half, the Seminoles hadn't mustered a point against Wake Forest in six straight quarters at home. They did notch a field goal in the third quarter.
Rankings streak snapped: The Seminoles are now 14-1 when they have been ranked and their ACC opponent has come to Tallahassee sporting a spot in the Top 25. (Wake Forest was No. 18 and FSU No. 24.)
Stat chat: The Seminoles are 13-4 in ACC openers after Saturday's loss to Wake Forest. The other losses: at North Carolina State in 1998, at Miami in 2004 and at Clemson last year.
A vocal fan: FSU coach Bobby Bowden has long admired what Grobe has done at Wake Forest. So much so that he has recommended him for other jobs. "Last year, Nebraska called me and somebody else called me and I said, 'Get that Jim Grobe,' " he said, adding that he wanted someone to get him "quick" before he had to play his team again.
Brian Landman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3347.