Monday, February 19, 2018
Colleges

Recruiting notebook: Top quarterback prospect would be a boon to FSU's offense

When Florida State quarterback commit Jameis Winston watched the Seminoles' 18-14 win over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl, one thought kept popping into his head.

"I gotta change this program around," Winston said. "There's no way we can just score 18 points on Notre Dame."

Winston could help transform an FSU offense that ranked 78th in the country and averaged 17 points over its final three games.

The 6-foot-4 Winston is regarded by Rivals and ESPN as the county's top quarterback prospect. The Alabama native won the quarterback challenge before this month's Under Armour All-America Game and was named the bowl's MVP after completing 8-of-9 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

But his future in Tallahassee is unclear because he's also regarded as one of the top high school baseball prospects in this year's draft class.

Before the Under Armour game, Winston continued to speak highly of the 'Noles and their future, despite watching a freshman-laden offensive line give up five sacks against Notre Dame.

"Other than that," Winston said, "we're legit."

Casher firm on FSU: When academic eligibility questions began to surface for defensive end Chris Casher, other schools stepped away. When moving from a private school to a public one forced him to sit out his senior season because of Alabama's transfer rules, other schools got nervous.

Not FSU.

"Back when I was in my academic trauma, a lot of schools kind of backed off me," said Casher, a Top 50 recruit from Mobile, Ala. "They gave me a sink or swim mentality. Florida State was kinda the only school that stuck by me."

So Casher has stuck with the 'Noles. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior is regarded by Rivals and ESPN as one of the country's top five defensive ends. His size, power and speed were impressive in Under Armour preparations.

Casher said he worked with coaches on his explosiveness, hand techniques and speed during his missing senior season but showed that he wasn't rusty from a year off.

He said he's firmly committed to the 'Noles and will visit no other schools. He's trying to keep FSU defensive linemen commits Dante Fowler Jr. and Mario Edwards Jr. from straying away before national signing day Feb. 1.

"I'm telling them, 'Man, they just need to come down to Tally with me and have some fun with me the next couple years,' " Casher said.

Williams likes FSU's future: Ocala Vanguard safety P.J. Williams learned early last fall that freshmen are expected to be key contributors immediately for the Seminoles.

"I see if you're good enough, they'll play you," Williams said. "If you can come in there and make plays for them and compete, they'll let you play."

FSU's two leaders in all-purpose yards — receiver Rashad Greene and running back Devonta Freeman — were true freshmen. Former Plant star James Wilder Jr. and tight end Nick O'Leary saw plenty of action in their first taste of college ball. Four freshmen played offensive line in the Champs Sports Bowl, and only five 'Noles had more tackles for a loss than defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan.

That early success has Williams optimistic about FSU's future when he arrives on campus.

"We've got some real good recruiting classes coming in," Williams said. "We're going to be real good. I see us going for a championship in the next few years."

No friction with UF tight ends: When Land O'Lakes tight end Kent Taylor was considering committing to Florida, he had one key ally: fellow UF tight end recruit Colin Thompson.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Thompson is one country's top tight end prospects. The Pennsylvania star said he's become close with Taylor and the two have talked about becoming roommates in Gainesville.

Thompson said their skills complement each other and they can serve different roles for the Gators.

"I have a good amount of weight on me," Thompson said. "The blocking game is more me. He'll do more receiving. But he'll get better at blocking. I'll do better at receiving. We'll go in together and get mature as a unit."

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