Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida State, Florida and Miami land near-consensus top-10 recruiting classes

The national signing day war room in Tallahassee featured so many figurative and physical acrobatics, one might have guessed Jimbo Fisher signed a few five-star gymnasts.

At one juncture, highly coveted Lakewood defensive end and longtime Seminole oral commitment Dante Fowler Jr. was flipping.

At another, Fisher was backflipping — or so one has to presume.

A day that began with Fowler publicly spurning the 'Noles for Florida ended with Fisher hauling in enough four- and five-star gems to merit national acclaim and put his class ahead of the Gators and Miami, according to two of the four major recruiting services.

"I love our class," Fisher said. "I think that we got a lot of the guys that we really wanted and met our needs, and that's the big thing."

So, too, did the Gators and Hurricanes, both of whom landed con­sensus top-10 classes.

Miami's 33-player class, boosted by the signature of Miramar five-star cornerback Tracy Howard and five bay area recruits, was especially surprising. The Hurricanes face potential NCAA sanctions in the wake of a booster's claims of years of illegal benefits to players.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you we didn't get absolutely crushed by our opponents on this," Miami coach Al Golden said. "And we fought back."

Florida, meantime, addressed its deficiencies up front in a big way. Of its 23 recruits (17 signees, six early enrollees), 14 play on the line of scrimmage. Armwood tailback Matt Jones gives the Gators the chiseled, downhill force the 2011 team sorely lacked.

Fowler's fax didn't hurt either. The 6-foot-3, 261-pounder, who deems himself more of an end/linebacker hybrid, indicated he felt more comfortable in Florida's 3-4 scheme.

"We saw very easily in our season this year we struggled on both lines of scrimmage consistently being able to run the ball and stop the run," Florida second-year coach Will Muschamp said. "I certainly feel like we've addressed our most pressing need."

But from a sheer statewide perspective, the day belonged to the 'Noles.

ESPNU.com and 247Sports.com picked FSU's 18-member class as the nation's second best behind Alabama's 26-player haul. That was without Hueytown (Ala.) quarterback Jameis Winston, who orally committed to FSU last summer but didn't sign. (He said he expects to do so by next week at the latest.)

A pro baseball prospect, Winston — the top-ranked quarterback, according to ESPNU — was competing in a baseball tournament Wednesday but told ESPN, "I'm a 'Nole, man. I'm a 'Nole."

"Pound for pound, (FSU's) was the No. 1 class in America," said Josh Newberg, the FSU and USF recruiting analyst for 247Sports.

Helping offset the loss of Fowler was the signature of two other prized defensive ends: Mobile (Ala.) Under Armour All-American Chris Casher and USA Today Defensive Player of the Year Mario Edwards of Denton, Texas.

Additionally, five-star defensive tackle Eddie Goldman of Washington, D.C. was a coup courtesy of defensive line coach Odell Haggins, who recruits the nation's capital for FSU.

Complementing the size was speed to burn. Sunday, Orlando Boone wideout Marvin Bracy set the U.S. high school record with the world's fastest 55-meter indoor time this year (6.08 seconds). Four-star defensive back Ronald Darby of Potomac, Md., is nearly as fast.

"I think (Fisher) definitely felt good about the way it all ended," said Chris Nee, the state of Florida recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "It's a very good class from top to bottom."

Just not quite as good as Alabama's.

The defending national champ signed 13 players among the ESPNU 150 and a quintet of linebackers hailed as the nation's best.

"Alabama's basically a minor-league NFL team at this point," Nee said.

Joey Knight can be reached at [email protected]

.Fast Facts

Nation's top-ranked classes

ESPNU

1. Alabama

2. FSU

3. Texas

4. Florida

5. Georgia

6. Ohio St.

7. Clemson

8. Michigan

9. Notre Dame

10. Miami Rivals

1. Alabama

2. Texas

3. Florida

4. Ohio St.

5. Stanford

6. Michigan

7. USC

8. FSU

9. Miami

10. Oklahoma

Scout

1. Texas

2. Alabama

3. Ohio St.

4. Michigan

5. Florida

6. Stanford

7. LSU

8. Miami

9. Oklahoma

10. FSU

247Sports

1. Alabama

2. FSU

3. Texas

4. Florida

5. Ohio St.

6. Georgia

7. Stanford

8. Michigan

9. Oklahoma

10. Miami

Florida State, Florida and Miami land near-consensus top-10 recruiting classes 02/01/12 [Last modified: Saturday, February 4, 2012 9:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Downs full of high-paying races this season

    Parimutuels

    OLDSMAR — Tampa Bay Downs is green like never before.

  2. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  3. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  4. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.
  5. Bucs journal: LB Kwon Alexander ready to return from injury

    Bucs

    TAMPA — LB Kwon Alexander, sidelined by a hamstring injury since the second quarter of the Bucs' season opener against Chicago, will finally make a healthy return Sunday against the Bills.

    Linebacker Kwon Alexander needs “to get my stats back up” after being out since the opener.