Florida State fell short in its pursuit of hometown talent D'Anfernee McGriff despite multiple campus visits in recent months. The 4-star offensive playmaker committed to Auburn on Tuesday afternoon during an announcement ceremony at Leon High School in Tallahassee:
McGriff earned the Tallahassee Charlie Ward Offensive Player of the Year Award in 2013, leading the Leon attack in a variety of facets. He spent significant time at quarterback, passing for 772 yards and two touchdowns on 130 attempts, per MaxPreps.
His most impressive production occurred on the ground. McGriff rushed for 2,025 yards and 29 scores in 12 games, including four 200-plus yard efforts in the final five contests of the season.
The 6'1", 230-pound prospect emerged as a premier offensive threat, capable of contributing to an offensive backfield in a variety of ways. He is likely to end up at running back in college and is rated No. 13 nationally at the position in 247Sports' composite rankings.
McGriff has been clocked at 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash, according to 247Sports. His physical prowess and game production earned him an avalanche of scholarship offers after his junior campaign.
Despite holding a major advantage in proximity, the Seminoles had to deal with several SEC contenders. Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Auburn each emerged as serious threats leading up to his pledge to the Tigers.
Florida State has seen fellow national title contenders claim key commitments from its top targets in recent weeks. Alabama picked up a trio of players with Seminoles offers last weekend, including a pair of Sunshine State prospects.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, a 5-star cornerback from New Jersey, committed to the Crimson Tide on Saturday two months after visiting Tallahassee. So did wide receiver Calvin Ridley and safety Shawn Burgess-Becker, 4-star teammates in Pompano Beach, Fla. who were more likely to land in Miami if they remained in Florida for college.
Auburn edged Florida State for a commitment from running back Kerryon Johnson earlier this month. Both programs were finalists for the 5-star Alabama athlete.
The Seminoles are looking for some recruiting momentum after missing out on a series of key prospects. Head coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff have landed just one 2015 pledge since Feb. 22, exactly two months ago.
Though Florida State has hosted several recruits during the span—including McGriff—commitments have been hard to come by. David Robbins, a 3-star offensive guard from Maryland, joined the class during the first weekend of April.
The Seminoles have assembled a strong class with nine pledges. It rates seventh nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings.
Should FSU be concerned about missing out on D'Anfernee McGriff?
Florida State's largest 2015 need right now is at offensive skill positions, particularly after whiffing on various players who could've quickly contributed to the Seminoles attack. Fisher has several other targets lined up.
Orlando running back Jacques Patrick is a primary prospect who visited Tallahassee last Month. Georgia target Taj Griffin, rated No. 1 nationally among all-purpose backs in 247Sports' composite rankings, still has the Seminoles on his radar.
Running backs Johnny Frasier (Princeton, N.C.) and Eric Swinney (Tyrone, Ga.) also hold Florida State offers. The Seminoles are also looking for help at receiver, where in-state targets Deon Cain (Tampa) and Da'Vante Phillips (Miami) could provide solutions.
The team hopes to avoid losing another local prospect when Tallahassee prospect John Burt eventually announces his decision. The 4-star receiver views Texas as a favorite and also has Auburn among his top choices.
Florida State struck out with a premier prospect in its backyard on Tuesday. The Seminoles now aim to turn things around in order to end a momentary recruiting lull.