With 29 commitments at this point eager to break out their best John Hancock on national signing day, Florida State currently has the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation for 2014 according to 247Sports.
However, only one of them, Miami (Fla.) Central High School running back Dalvin Cook, has been put up on a pedestal by the experts as a 5-star prospect—he's already on campus as an early enrollee and will participate in spring practice. The 5'11", 190-pounder was recently committed to Florida before flipping to the Seminoles on New Year's Eve, making his signing all the more satisfying for FSU fans.
While coach Jimbo Fisher and Co. have clearly done a tremendous job recently on the recruiting trail, a good class becomes a great one when it's littered with 5-star studs. Florida State's incredible haul of 2012 featured six 5-star signees, with four of them—cornerback Ronald Darby, defensive linemen Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston—contributing substantially to a BCS National Championship just two years later.
The Seminoles still have a fighting chance with four uncommitted 5-star athletes, so I dug into the most recent report written by 247Sports national recruiting director JC Shurburtt to get a better read on his much-ballyhooed Crystal Ball.
A 6'5", 232-pound defensive end from Norcross (Ga.) High School, Carter is the No. 20 recruit in the country, No. 2 prospect at his position and No. 2 player in the state of Georgia.
Shurburtt Says: "Lorenzo Carter... is one of the most athletic defensive end prospects in the 2014 cycle. While Florida and LSU are in the mix to a certain extent, Georgia appears to have emerged as the team to beat. Right now, the Bulldogs are predicted at 54 percent on Crystal Ball."
Carter said recently to Scout.com national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons that he didn't know former FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt very well, despite the fact that he now appears to be leaning toward Pruitt's current employer, Georgia. Part of his attraction to the Bulldogs is the 3-4 scheme they run, and the 'Noles featured plenty of 3-4 looks under Pruitt and also Mark Stoops before him.
Other programs Carter is reported to be considering: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon.
A 6'3", 187-pound wide receiver from River Ridge (La.) John Curtis High School, Dupree is the No. 30 recruit in the country, No. 3 prospect at his position and No. 5 player in the state of Louisiana.
Shurburtt Says: "Malachi Dupre... is a player that could make LSU fans forget all about losing another New Orleans receiver prospect—Speedy Noil of Edna Karr [High School]—to Texas A&M. Right now Crystal Ball believes that will happen, as it has the Tigers predicted at 100 percent. UCLA and Alabama are the other programs in the mix."
According to Jeremy Crabtree, the senior writer for ESPN's Recruiting Nation, even if the smart money is on home-state LSU, Dupre has displayed an impressive poker face thus far. The 'Noles will have one last chance to close the deal Friday, as he is scheduled for an official visit to Tallahassee and expected to be given quite a sales pitch from Winston.
Other programs Dupre is reported to be considering: Alabama, LSU, UCLA.
A 6'1", 175-pound cornerback from Birmingham (Ala.) Hoover High School, Humphrey is the No. 10 recruit in the country, No. 1 prospect at his position and No. 1 player in the state of Alabama.
Shurburtt Says: "Humphrey is an Alabama legacy (note: His father is former Crimson Tide running back Bobby Humphrey) from the Birmingham area and plays a position that has featured a parade from Tuscaloosa to the NFL. Florida State was in it until the departure of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to Georgia. Right now, Crystal Ball is almost all Tide at 97 percent. Unless it’s the Seminoles still, there really doesn’t seem to be another pick for Humphrey that would make sense."
Pruitt saying goodbye to the Garnet and Gold may have been the kiss of death for Florida State landing Humphrey, as he was an assistant at Hoover (2004-06) before joining Alabama coach Nick Saban's staff in 2007. While Pruitt probably won't be able to bring Humphrey with him to Georgia, his sudden exit from Tallahassee could seal the deal for the Crimson Tide.
Other programs Humphrey is reported to be considering: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan State, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, South Carolina, UCLA, USC.
A 6'3", 193-pound wide receiver from Homestead (Fla.) High School, Lane is the No. 33 recruit in the country, No. 4 at his position and No. 4 player in the state of Florida.
Shurburtt Says: "Ermon Lane... was a Florida commit for the longest time before he and the Gators parted ways. Most feel that [he] will end up at Florida State, along with (Dalvin) Cook and others. Crystal Ball certainly agrees, as the Seminoles are predicted at 61 percent."
Because Lane is tight with Cook, this could end up being a home run of a package deal for FSU once the fax machine fires up Feb. 5. In the eyes of Josh Newberg, a recruiting expert for 247Sports and contributor at Noles247.com, "Now that [Cook is] a Seminole, he says it's his job to flip five-star WR Ermon Lane from Florida."
Other programs Lane is reported to be considering: Florida, Miami.
Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.