Florida State, in the golden years of Bobby Bowden, was a recruiting juggernaut. The Seminoles were very subscribed to the school of thought that to be the best, you needed to have the best.
This philosophy started to wane in the final Bowden years, but since Jimbo Fisher took over as head coach, this became the norm in Tallahassee once again. The best of the best made their way to the capital of Florida, and the backlash of that is showing. FSU is a mainstay in the rankings once more, and now it has a title to show for it.
Here, we rank the top five classes of the BCS era.
2009 would turn out to be Jimbo Fisher's final year as a coordinator, but it was still consistent with the same recruiting prowess that the West Virginia native has been known for.
This is the earliest class that has members of the national title team on it, with defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel and center Bryan Stork being members of it. Those two, who redshirted in Bobby Bowden's final year, played key parts in the Seminoles' success, specifically Stork—who would go on to be named the nation's top lineman in his senior year.
The name that jumps out at you when you peruse the list is, of course, defensive back Greg Reid, who had a short but great career for the Seminoles. One of the nation's top corners in high school, Reid made an impact for the 'Noles over his years but was unfortunately kicked off the team entering his senior year due to a violation of team rules.
One year after only signing 19 commits, Florida State had 31 players pledge to join the Seminoles. 2008, of course, was Fisher's first full year as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at the school.
EJ Manuel, of course, is one of the biggest names on the list. Though his status with the fanbase varies, Manuel managed to guide the team back to the top of the ACC and an Orange Bowl win in his final year, and he is the only other quarterback to win all four of his bowl games (the other being West Virginia's Pat White). Other big names include linebackers Nigel Bradham, Vince Williams and Nick Moody and defensive end Everett Dawkins.
The 2008 class did its part in assuring the Seminoles a platform to build off, a sense of winning to grow from. Though they didn't accomplish the same accolades as their future replacements, they set the precedent.
The sheer amount of talent in the 2011 class is remarkable. Probably spurred by Florida State's appearance in the ACC Championship Game in Jimbo Fisher's first year as head coach, along with a victory over South Carolina, the class definitely did its part in bringing the Seminoles back.
Names like James Wilder Jr., Karlos Williams, Nick O'Leary, Tyler Hunter, Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and Bobby Hart litter the list of those who signed a letter of intent to play for Fisher and the Seminoles, and to their credit, they've lived up to the expectations. All of the above names, with exception to Hunter, who missed the season with a neck injury, were key contributors in the 'Noles' championship season.
Remember the star power of the 2011 class? Well, the 2012 class has something to say about that.
Ignoring the biggest name on it for a second, the 2012 class had a huge impact on bringing the Seminoles their first title since 1999. Mario Pender, who has struggled with grades and injuries, should be a contributor in 2014, along with other key names like Sean Maguire and Chris Casher. Starters include Eddie Goldman, Casey Beatty, Mario Edwards, Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams, who had a crucial interception in the BCS National Championship Game.
And, of course, there's Jameis Winston.
The top-rated quarterback from Hueytown, Ala., pledged his intent to sign with the Seminoles in 2012, and two years later, he's the star of the college football world. This group is one of the most talented in the past years of FSU football and will only have been enrolled in the school for three years entering the 2014 season.
If you were to ask any Florida State football player or coach which class exactly had the most impact on bringing Florida State "back," they will point out 2010 as that group nine times out of 10.
This was Jimbo Fisher's first class as a head coach, the group that would go on to help define him. It was outstanding how FSU, a program that had barely rolled into the Gator Bowl the season prior, was putting together a class that had an abundance of 5- and 4-star recruits.
Almost every name is recognizable: Lamarcus Joyner, Kenny Shaw, Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Bjoern Werner, Terrence Brooks and even top-ranked lineman Jeff Luc, who would later go on to transfer to Cincinnati.
Every player this year talked about how special it was to win for the seniors, for the kids who had gone from winning the program's first division title since 2005 in their freshman year to walking off the field as a national champion as they wore a Florida State uniform for the last time.
In the tale of the three little pigs, 2010 is the group that finally realized that they could use brick to build their house, and build it they did.