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It's another last-minute gold rush for Seminoles

Florida State gets commitments from three Parade magazine All-Americans.

On the football field the past few years, the Florida State Seminoles haven't had nor have they needed many fantastic finishes.

But when it's come to recruiting, the Seminoles' signature of late has been a flurry of last-minute coups, fueling dramatic wins in the battle for prospects needed to maintain their seemingly inexhaustible talent pool.

And FSU's penchant for the dramatic on signing day was again evident Wednesday.

The defending national champion, concerned as late as Tuesday that it might merely have an average class, landed some of the nation's most highly-touted players in another 11th-hour rush, including three Parade magazine All-Americans:

Bryant McFadden, a cornerback from Hollywood McArthur and the Times' top-rated state prospect, announced that he chose FSU over Tennessee.

Eric Moore, a linebacker from Pahokee and the Times' fourth-highest player, also eschewed Tennessee for Tallahassee.

Travis Johnson, a speedy, strong defensive end from California, picked FSU over Michigan.

The Seminoles also learned at the last minute that Alex Barron, Leroy Smith, Greg Jones and Claudius Osei were part of the 23-member class.

Barron is a mammoth 6-foot-8, 297-pound offensive lineman from South Carolina; Smith a defensive back from Quincy Shanks who orally committed, then considered signing with Tommy Bowden at Clemson; Jones a tailback who is a cousin of former boxing champ Joe Frazier; and Osei, a speedy defensive back from Tallahassee North Florida Christian who is a German exchange student.

"I'm excited about this group here," coach Bobby Bowden said. "We have some surprises on there that I didn't think we were going to get."

Recruiting coordinator John Lilly said there were nearly a dozen players who told him that FSU was on their short list but were noncommital.

"When you recruit the best, most of them aren't going to decide until the last day, so you either wait for them or you go get somebody else you don't think's as good," Bowden said.

"Coming in (to Wednesday), we had about a third of the class hanging in the balance," Lilly said.

Guess which way the scale finally fell.

This recruiting class exudes, well, class and distinction.

Safety Yohance Buchanan was another Parade All-American; receiver Michael Boulware, the younger brother of former Seminole star Peter, was the Gatorade player of the year in South Carolina; Chris Rix looks like a NFL quarterback-in-the-making; receiver Devard Darling and his twin Devaughn, a linebacker, were two of the best players in Texas; Chad Mascoe was one of the nation's top-rated linebackers and Zephyrhills kicker Brett Cimorelli, who also will play baseball, is a potential force.

Don't forget a trio of standouts from last year's class who didn't qualify _ linebacker Kendyll Pope, quarterback Fabian Walker and defensive back B.J. Ward _ now are enrolled, as is Javon Walker, one of the best receivers in junior college last season.

"And it ain't over yet," Bowden said.

Defensive lineman Eric Powell (6-4, 275), a former standout at Orlando Jones who played last season at Southwest Mississippi Community College, has orally committed and is expected to return his signed letter soon.

Also, defensive tackle Justin Hinds (6-5, 265) from New Jersey still has FSU on his list and could announce today. And linebacker D.J. Williams, Parade's player of the year, is reportedly down to FSU and Miami.

FSU could use them all.

Unlike most years, the Seminoles need some immediate help if they hope to make another run at the national championship.

FSU was thin on the defensive line with the graduation of all-America Corey Simon and fellow tackle Jerry Johnson. Also, defensive end Roland Seymour faces a long rehabilitation from knee and shoulder surgery.

"I definitely see an opportunity," Travis Johnson said.

With starting outside linebacker Tommy Polley coming back from reconstructive knee surgery and backups Bobby Rhodes and Theon Rackley graduated, FSU seemingly has found Brian Allen and Bradley Jennings help with players such as Moore and Pope.

Cornerbacks Mario Edwards and Reggie Durden and safety Sean Key are gone, opening the door for a player such as McFadden.

"My hopes are to come in and try to show what I can do," he said. "I hope to be very productive (in practice) so I can get on the field."

While FSU lost one underclassman to the NFL, it was a big one _ two-time All-American Sebastian Janikowski. More than his field-goal kicking ability, FSU had no one on its roster with a leg strong enough to bash kickoffs into the end zone. It does now with Cimorelli, a player Lilly said might be the "most important we've signed this year."

Florida State

PLAYER POS. HT. WT. SCHOOL

Alex Barron OL 6-8 297 Orangeburg (S.C.) Wilkinson

Michael Boulware WR 6-3 200 Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley

Yohance Buchanan DB 6-1 210 Atlanta Douglass

David Castillo OL 6-2 285 Palm Beach Gardens

Brett Cimorelli PK 6-4 220 Zephyrhills

Devard Darling WR 6-3 195 Houston Austin

Devaughn Darling LB 6-2 220 Houston Austin

Nathaniel Hardage LB 6-2 225 Sylvester (Ga.) Worth Co.

Charles Howard DE 6-3 215 Lake Butler Union County

Travis Johnson DE 6-5 240 Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame

Greg Jones RB 6-1 225 Beaufort (S.C.) Battery Creek

Chad Mascoe LB 6-2 225 Kissimmee Osceola

Bryant McFadden DB 6-1 180 Hollywood McArthur

Bobby Meeks OL 6-3 285 Aldine (Texas) Nimitz

Eric Moore LB 6-5 228 Pahokee

Claudius Osei DB 6-1 190 Tallahassee North Florida Christian

Kendyll Pope+ LB 6-2 212 Lake City Columbia

Chris Rix QB 6-4 200 Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.)

Leroy Smith DB 5-11 170 Quincy Shanks

Fabian Walker+ QB 6-2 205 Americus (Ga.)

Javon Walker++ WR 6-3 190 Jones County (Miss.) JC

B.J. Ward+ DB 6-4 200 Dallas Kimball

Ray Willis OL 6-6 256 Angleton (Texas)

+ Signed last February but did not qualify. Already enrolled.

++ Already enrolled.

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