The Florida State Seminoles are coming off capturing the Coaches' Trophy in one of the most thrilling BCS National Championship showdowns ever in a 34-31 victory over Auburn.
In order to sustain that success and continue building quality depth for the future, it will be up to the Seminoles staff to assemble a top-notch 2014 recruiting class to take their talents to Tallahassee.
Wednesday, Feb. 5's national signing day is an opportunity to bolster what is already regarded by 247Sports' composite rankings as the No. 5-ranked class in the country.
Selling prospective freshmen on the program is a lot easier coming off a national title triumph, and FSU has locked up a number of top-tier high school superstars already. However, the implementation of the college football playoff this coming season should provide at least one additional tough matchup for the premier teams in the country.
Here is an overview of the entire incoming class Florida State has to look forward to, along with instant updates as national signing day progresses and a breakdown of the top prospects committed to the Seminoles.
Note: All recruit information is courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise indicated.
|Hard Commits||Position||Star Rating|
|Derrick Kelly Jr.||OT||3|
Myles Autry, ATH
The Seminoles missed on a big target as Autry stayed in the state of Georgia, signing with Georgia Tech (via ESPN College Football):
Lorenzo Carter, DE
Florida State missed on another defensive end recruit, as Carter committed to Georgia (via Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph):
Lorenzo Carter picks Georgia.— Seth Emerson (@SethEmerson) February 5, 2014
Andrew Williams, DE
Williams passed on the chance to sign with the Seminoles, deciding to commit to Auburn (via AuburnSports.com):
Adoree Jackson, CB
Jackson chose USC, passing over Florida State on signing day, via Chris Foster of Los Angeles Times:
Ja'Von Harrison, WR
Florida State picked up a surprise commit on signing day, flipping Harrison, a Virginia Tech commit, the program confirmed:
Donte Thomas-Williams, RB
Thomas-Williams passed on the chance to join the defending national champions, signing for West Virginia (via WVSports.com):
Malachi Dupre, WR
Dupre snubbed the Seminoles on signing day, deciding to join LSU (via ESPNU):
Mattrell McGraw, S
McGraw turned down Florida State on signing day, joining Oregon (via Justin Hopkins of 247sports.com):
Elisha Shaw, DT
Shaw opted to go to Alabama over Florida State, via Tucker Football on Twitter:
#70 Elisha Shaw commits to the University of Alabama! Congrats! #RollTide— Tucker Tigers (@TuckerFootball) February 5, 2014
Kenny Young, LB
Young passed on the opportunity to join the national champions. opting to join UCLA (via ESPN College Football):
Ermon Lane, WR
Lane also decided to join the defending champs, per Patrik Nohe of the Miami Herald:
Damian Prince, OT
Prince snubbed Florida State in favor of another ACC program, courtesy of ESPN's College GameDay:
Roder Johnson, OT
Johnson announced his decision to attend Florida State on Feb. 5, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports:
Florissant (Mo.) Hazelwood Central four-star offensive tackle Roderick Johnson had been considered a Florida State lean for most of the recruiting process, and he made it official on National Signing Day on Wednesday, announcing for the Seminoles.
Malik McDowell, DE
McDowell decided to snub the Seminoles and all of the ACC in favor of the Big Ten, courtesy of the Detroit Free Press:
Malik McDowell picks Michigan State— Freep Sports (@freepsports) February 5, 2014
Derrick Nnadi, DT
Nnadi announced his commitment at 7:54 a.m. ET on Feb. 5, but didn't specify exactly how long he expected to remain with the Seminoles:
I DECIDED TO SPEND THE NEXT 4-5 YEARS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA STATE #NOLENATION— D_Nnadi (@DerrickNnadi) February 5, 2014
Dalvin Cook, RB
Having already enrolled as a 5-star recruit, Cook has all the makings of carving out a spot in the Florida State backfield as a true freshman.
The pride of Miami Central High School tips the scales at 200 pounds and is 5'11", but that's a thick frame for an incoming freshman. What makes Cook special is how physical he is with that frame because of his blistering speed and penchant for getting north-and-south quickly.
Cook amassed a whopping 1940 yards on just 177 carries and 34 touchdowns in his last high school campaign, proving himself as a home-run threat and having a nose for the end zone.
Being compared to Kendall Hunter makes a lot of sense in that regard, because the current San Francisco 49er found success at Oklahoma State in scoring 16 TDs on the ground as both a sophomore and a senior.
Competition will kick up when he gets to college, but Cook has every reason to be confident and the proper attitude and running style to excel with the Seminoles and vie for his fair share of touches.
Devonta Freeman left for the NFL along with James Wilder Jr., leaving only Karlos Williams among last year's primary ball-carriers.
Travis Rudolph, WR
But let's keep the focus on Rudolph since he's already offered a hard commitment. The 6'1", 185-pound wideout doesn't wow with his size, but all he does is make plays with a stellar all-around game.
Rudolph nabbed 63 receptions for 1,237 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior at Cardinal Newman High School (West Palm Beach, Fla.). He is a crafty route runner who has excellent open-field vision—evident in his dynamic returning ability—and can make things happen after he's secured the catch.
What impresses most about Rudolph's game tape is his natural knack for high-pointing the football and getting leverage on the defender when the ball is in the air.
There isn't a lot of wasted movement whether he's working on his route, getting off the line of scrimmage or attacking the ball. Thus, Rudolph has an excellent chance to make an impact in the slot, in the return game or even on the outside given his exceptional ball skills.
With the void left by senior Kenny Shaw and early NFL draft declarer Kelvin Benjamin, there are opportunities for Rudolph and the other prospective receivers to see the field and catch passes from reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
Jacob Pugh, OLB
The loss of senior and leading tackler Telvin Smith leaves a void at outside linebacker that any number of players should try to take over.
While the 4-star Pugh may not be in line to play right away in his hometown of Tallahassee, he has the skill set and upside to be a strong contributor to championship-caliber teams in the coming years.
Who will have the best career at Florida State?
As a local Godby High School star, Pugh will no doubt be itching to prove himself. At 6'4" and 221 pounds, he has room to get even stronger, which may leave defensive coaches struggling to figure out where to place him.
It's feasible that Pugh could start his career as an outside linebacker and then make a transition to defensive end when he bulks up. His long arms allow him to be strong in shedding blocks and in grabbing a hold of opponents, but he's also a sure tackler and has sideline-to-sideline range.
Pugh may not pay the immediate dividends Cook and Rudolph figure to, yet he may very well wind up being a prominent presence on third down before developing into the best defensive player in this class by the time his FSU days are over.
That is a strong statement considering the Seminoles are getting two other 4-star linebackers in Kain Daub and Delvin Purifoy. But both of them are bound to make an impact as inside linebackers and nowhere else, while Pugh has the chance to become effective in coverage, as an edge-rusher and as a force against the run.
Josh Newberg of 247Sports posted video of new defensive coordinator Michael Kelly working with Daub and Pugh:
The future is bright for Florida State's linebacker corps with Pugh leading the way for the 2014 class.