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FSU football’s national signing day is bittersweet as Miami, UCF shine

The Seminoles had a top-10 class but lost their only five-star commits.
 
Florida State football coach Mike Norvell had a top-10 recruiting class as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Florida State football coach Mike Norvell had a top-10 recruiting class as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Dec. 21, 2023|Updated Dec. 21, 2023

Florida State had a bittersweet national signing day at the end of a bittersweet season.

The Seminoles’ 22-person class finished ninth in the 247Sports composite rankings, making it the best of Mike Norvell’s career and the program’s best since Jimbo Fisher’s final 2017 haul. It includes the nation’s No. 5 quarterback (Luke Kromenhoek) and four other top-100 prospects.

“We have a special class coming in that can do incredible things,” Norvell said.

But it could have been even more special; it was third in the nation last week.

Five-star safety KJ Bolden had been committed to FSU since August but flipped to Georgia on Wednesday. Bolden, the nation’s No. 14 overall recruit, fortified the Bulldogs’ No. 1 class and knocked FSU out of the top three. It’s the second time in three years that the Seminoles have lost an elite athlete from Georgia on signing day, after Travis Hunter flipped to Deion Sanders and Jackson State.

The Seminoles lost their other five-star commit when Miami Central defensive lineman Armondo Blount flipped to Miami.

“I try not to take it personally,” Norvell said of flips in general, “but it hurts.”

FSU’s class still marked a shift. Norvell rebuilt FSU into a championship contender thanks in large part to the transfer portal with additions like Jared Verse (Albany), Trey Benson (Oregon) and Johnny Wilson (Arizona State).

This class will have transfers, but it’s still his best high school haul by far. Just not as good as it was Monday.

Miami Hurricanes in top 10

Largo High linebacker Adarius Hayes flipped from Florida to Miami on Wednesday.
Largo High linebacker Adarius Hayes flipped from Florida to Miami on Wednesday. [ SCOTT PURKS | Scott Purks, Special to the Times ]

Mario Cristobal continued to live up to his status as an elite recruiter by signing the No. 3 class. It’s the first time the Hurricanes have had back-to-back top-10 crops since 2004-05.

One of Cristobal’s biggest victories was flipping Largo High linebacker Adarius Hayes from Florida. The top-100 national recruit had been committed to the Gators since January but announced his decision with Miami graphics flashing at the end of his highlight reel. Miami also held onto five-star defensive lineman Justin Scott and edge rusher Booker Pickett Jr., a four-star recruit from Wharton High.

Miami traded four-star running backs this week, flipping St. Thomas Aquinas’ Jordan Lyle from Ohio State on Monday but losing Kevin Riley to Alabama.

Jeremiah Smith sticks to Buckeyes

Jeremiah Smith stuck with his commitment to Ohio State instead of flipping to Florida State, Miami or Florida.
Jeremiah Smith stuck with his commitment to Ohio State instead of flipping to Florida State, Miami or Florida. [ JOE CAVARETTA | South Florida Sun-Sentinel ]

Florida, FSU and Miami had all hoped to add to their successes by landing the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, receiver Jeremiah Smith. During his ceremony at Hollywood’s Chaminade-Madonna Prep, Smith took out a bag and revealed … a cap for Ohio State, the program he had been committed to since last December. No state team has signed the nation’s No. 1 prospect since the Gators took Ronald Powell in 2010.

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UCF’s historic haul

Carrollwood Day receiver Bredell Richardson signed with UCF on Wednesday.
Carrollwood Day receiver Bredell Richardson signed with UCF on Wednesday. [ SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times ]

The Knights’ move to the Big 12 has paid off with their best recruiting class of the modern era, by far. Seven of their 18 signees were four-star recruits, including Carrollwood Day receiver Bredell Richardson. That’s as many blue-chip prospects as the Knights signed in the previous nine classes combined.

UCF’s class was third in the conference and No. 32 overall.

The Knights lost a notable recruit when Ric’Darious Farmer, a four-star receiver from Melbourne Central Catholic, flipped to West Virginia.

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