Florida State Football: the 10 Greatest Recruiting Classes of All-Time
Bobby Bowden is largely considered as one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football.
While he may have lacked the intensity of Woody Hayes or the larger-than-life persona of Bear Bryant, Bowden was unbeatable in the living room of a top-flight recruit.
His folksy, Southern charm often won over parents and resulted in the Seminoles celebrating the first week of February like it was Christmas.
Since taking over for arguably the greatest recruiter ever, Jimbo Fisher has maintained the Seminoles program as one of the elite destinations for the nation’s prep stars.
Here are Florida State’s top 10 recruiting classes in school history.
While in-state rival Florida—whose class included mega-stars Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin—battled USC for the top class in the country, FSU would put together a class with 31 signees that was rated third in the country by Rivals.
Bobby Bowden may not have known it at the time, but securing a pledge from lightly regarded quarterback Christian Ponder would end FSU’s revolving door at the position.
Receiver Preston Parker, corner Patrick Robinson and safety Myron Rolle were other big-name prospects that enjoyed a solid career at FSU on the field.
With a roster loaded on upperclassmen heading into a season with a team that would start the season ranked No. 1, FSU only signed 13 players in their 1999 recruiting class.
What they lacked in quantity, Bowden and his staff made up for in quality with several stars emerging from the small group.
After winning the prestigious Mr. Football award in Florida as a prep quarterback from Pahokee, Anquan Boldin made the transition into a game-breaking wide receiver during his stay in Tallahassee.
Standout defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was plucked away from Maryland, and found his way into the NFL after starring for the Seminoles.
Nick Maddox was the consensus top running back recruit in the nation, and while he did not live up to his hype, he still managed to have a productive career as a Seminole.
FSU brought in a 24-man class highlighted by seven USA Today All-American signees.
The running back class was the consensus top group in the country, led by Leon Washington and California’s top prospect, Lorenzo Booker.
Defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley and safety Pat Watkins were elite defensive recruits that went on to find success in the NFL.
Rivals.com rated FSU’s group as the fourth best recruiting class in the country in 2002.
Coming off their second national championship in school history, the Seminoles were also at the peak of their dominance on the recruiting trail.
Although this class brought enigmatic quarterback Chris Rix to FSU, it also produced stars in running back Greg Jones, receiver Javon Walker and offensive tackle Alex Barron.
A host of top prospects would pledge to the ‘Noles and play for legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.
Several of them would go on to have successful stints in the NFL, led by defensive tackle Travis Johnson, defensive end Eric Moore and corner Bryant McFadden.
After six years spent playing minor-league baseball in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system, Chris Weinke re-signed with FSU as a 25-year old freshman quarterback.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski, defensive end Jamal Reynolds and safety Derrick Gibson were all first-round draft choices that emerged from a loaded class on both sides of the ball.
Tailback Travis Minor, who hailed from the same high school (Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La.) as former Seminoles star Warrick Dunn, chose to follow in Dunn’s footsteps after standout prep career that culminated with him being named USA Today’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Led by the consensus top quarterback recruit in the nation, Dan Kendra, FSU’s 1995 recruiting class was heavy on linemen, defensive backs and receivers.
Walter Jones, a left tackle picked up from the JUCO ranks, would go on to leave FSU after just one season and now is considered a first-ballot Hall of Fame candidate.
Of the six wideouts brought in by Bowden, Peter Warrick would go on to become a two-time consensus All-American and the key cog during FSU’s 1999 undefeated national championship team.
This class was led by eventual Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Charlie Ward, who would go on to lead the ‘Noles to the 1993 National Championship.
A trio of wide receivers—Matt Frier, Kevin Knox and Shannon Baker—would go on to help Ward ignite the ‘Noles fast break offensive attack.
A standout class of defensive back class was led by eventual Jim Thorpe Award winner Terrell Buckley, who also doubled as an electric return man.
In what may be the answer to a trivia question, this is the original class that 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke was a part of.
This class featured a number of standouts and future pros on both sides of the ball, but its headliner was linebacker Marvin Jones, one of the finest defenders in school history.
Fullback William Floyd, running back Sean Jackson and wide receiver Kez McCorvey anchored a class loaded with offensive skill talent.
Meanwhile, a trio of defensive backs—Clifton Abraham, Corey Fuller and Corey Sawyer—continued the tradition set by predecessors Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley and LeRoy Butler.
The Seminoles brought in a pair of quarterbacks in Chip Ferguson and Peter Tom Willis—who would eventually lead the Seminoles to a 32-4 record from 1987-89—which coincidentally jumpstarted the ‘Noles unprecedented streak of Top 5 finishes.
The offense was also boosted by running back Sammie Smith, who would eventually turn out to be a first round NFL draft choice.
Bobby Bowden brought in linebacker Odell Haggins, who would turn into a standout defensive lineman (he is currently the defensive line coach at FSU).
The headliner of the class turned out to be the greatest athlete to ever wear the garnet and gold—a defensive back by the name of Deion Sanders.
The Seminoles were loaded for a title run as the nation’s preseason No.1 team, but they likely could not have won a championship without some help from the one of the greatest recruiting classes in recent memory.
Bobby Bowden brought in several stars, but it was the less-than-heralded tailback Warrick Dunn who would make the biggest impact as a freshman and go on to become the best running back in school history.
Receivers Andre Cooper and E.G. Green left their marks all over the Seminole record books and converted defensive end Tra Thomas turned into an elite offensive tackle.
On defense, linebacker Sam Cowart and converted defensive ends Peter Boulware and Reinard Wilson were the backbone of the ‘Noles dominant defenses in the mid-90’s.