TALLAHASSEE — Jimbo Fisher won't coach his first game at Florida State for another 15 days, yet he has already secured his first major victory as head coach. It came in the form of a commitment from James Wilder Jr., who some believe is the best high school player in the nation.
Wilder, the Plant running back and linebacker whose father played for the Bucs, committed Wednesday to FSU during a much-publicized announcement.
When Wilder put on a garnet and gold hat, it instantly provided credibility to Fisher's efforts to rebuild the Seminoles into a national power.
Though Fisher is in his first season as the head coach, he has been at FSU since January 2007. In that time, the Seminoles haven't received a commitment from a player as heralded as Wilder.
"This is the type of commitment where everybody in the country looks at it and goes, 'Wow,' " said Jeremy Crabtree, the national recruiting editor for Rivals.com.
NCAA rules prohibit Fisher from commenting specifically about a recruit who hasn't yet signed a national letter of intent. After Thursday's practice, though, Fisher spoke in generalities about the broader meaning of a commitment from a recruit with a national reputation.
"It brings momentum and it makes people take notice of what's going on," Fisher said. "And like I say, good players all want to play with other good players. If they're true champions."
Crabtree described Wilder's pledge "a statement commitment" — the kind capable of sending a strong message to other programs. Programs such as Florida, for instance, which has won six straight against FSU. Wilder committed to Florida State over the Gators and Georgia because the Seminoles will allow him to play running back, his preferred spot.
The Wilder commitment could inspire other highly rated prospects to join the Seminoles' 2011 recruiting class. After all, Wilder's highlight tapes have tens of thousands of views on YouTube.
USF: Camp rerun?
TAMPA — As the Bulls returned to campus after 12 days of training camp in Vero Beach, coach Skip Holtz said he would like to see his team return to the former Dodgertown complex again.
"It was a great opportunity for our players to grow as football players, and for the camaraderie on the team," he said. "It's something we'll look at, but I haven't talked to anybody. I thought this was very beneficial."
The Bulls will practice on campus today, then have a closed scrimmage Saturday that will help make decisions about depth charts and which true freshmen might play this season.
Holtz said walk-on QB Bobby Eveld of Jesuit is holding his own with freshman Jamius Gunsby. CB Terrence Mitchell (Hillsborough) also has a shot at playing.
JURISPRUDENCE: After nearly two full days in jail, LB Sam Barrington, 19, is getting his driver's license legal issues squared away, getting six months of probation on one charge and a court date for the other. Barrington was expected to be released from jail Thursday evening.
Barrington pleaded no contest to a June misdemeanor of driving with a suspended license and adjudication was withheld, with six months' probation, $289 in court costs and the understanding that he will carry a valid driver's license. His other arrest on the same charge from July 28 has a disposition hearing in October.
KICKOFFS SET: The first three home games — Sept. 4 vs. Stony Brook, Sept. 25 vs. Western Kentucky and Oct. 2 vs. Florida Atlantic — are expected to have 7 p.m. kickoffs and broadcasts on Bright House Sports Network.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
UM: Deep threat
CORAL GABLES — Redshirt sophomore WR Tommy Streeter, who had five catches for 114 yards last season, is viewed as a potential deep threat for Miami.
"The word we're trying to make sure he remembers is consistency," receivers coach Aubrey Hill said.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder had a 47-yard catch against Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl.
"I just have to continue working hard so I can have the opportunity to make more plays this upcoming season," said Streeter, who is working to improve his intermediate route running.
Quick hit: Freshman RB Storm Johnson had 12 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns, including a 92-yard run, in Wednesday's late scrimmage.
South Florida Sun Sentinel
UCF: Pecking order
ORLANDO — If the Knights had to play Thursday, Rob Calabrese would start at quarterback and preseason All-Conference USA CB Josh Robinson would come off the bench.
The coaching staff introduced the starters during a luncheon, but coach George O'Leary emphasized that starting jobs for the Sept. 4 opener are not secured. Emery Allen and Justin Boddie were tops at the corners. Hillsborough High's Charley Hughlett will be the long snapper, and Gaither grad Nick Cattoi will be the kicker.