Florida State has frequently recruited athletes after strong freshman seasons during recent years. Jacksonville wide receiver D.J. Matthews is the latest youngster to determine he wants to be a Seminole down the road.
Though the rising sophomore can't formally sign with Florida State until February 2017, he gave his verbal commitment to head coach Jimbo Fisher during a campus visit Thursday. Matthews shared the decision on Twitter:
His recruitment became a nationwide pursuit this spring. Despite a rapidly expanding collection of scholarship offers, Florida State rose to the forefront after offering in early May.
"I committed because I love FSU and how [wide receivers] coach [Lawrence] Dawsey and Jimbo Fisher showed me love," Matthews told Josh Newberg of 247Sports.
The 6'0", 160-pound prospect emerged as a top target at First Coast High School last fall during a journey to the Class 8A state quarterfinals. He finished third on the team with 47 receptions for 624 yards and seven touchdowns, per MaxPreps.
First Coast quarterback De'Andre Johnson committed to Florida State at a similar point in his career. The 2015 prospect pledged to the Seminoles in July 2012, prior to his sophomore season.
"I actually told De'Andre Johnson first," Matthews told 247Sports. "He was happy and said he was proud of me."
Johnson is one of two players in the team's 2015 recruiting class who committed after just one high school campaign. Top-ranked safety Dewin James joined the class in February 2012.
"It was definitely a crazy feeling to commit so early," James told Bleacher Report earlier this month. "Then you see everyone else start to get in the class later. It made me want to recruit other players and make it better."
Matthews is undoubtedly the catalyst of a 2017 class that isn't likely to reach double-digit commitments for perhaps another two years. It's an excellent start for Florida State, which also holds one commitment in its 2016 class (4-star defensive tackle Cedric Wood).
The pass-catcher displayed sensational ball skills as a freshman. Despite a slender frame, Matthews managed to come down with difficult catches in traffic and showed he isn't afraid to fully extend for the football.
He already high-points passes, providing a strong indication that his approach is incredibly advanced for a young receiver. Matthews impressed with smooth route running as a freshman, gaining separation off the line thanks to quality footwork and fluid hips.
His consistency in 2013 was rather staggering for a newcomer on a title-contending team. He caught at least four passes in eight contests, including three straight in the playoffs.
Matthews finished his first postseason with 18 receptions for 217 yards and two touchdowns. That's an outstanding output for a player who still has significant physical maturation ahead of him.
Florida State beat out several early contenders for his commitment, including LSU, Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee and Miami. Despite his decision, expect teams to keep coming after Matthews with a long stretch separating the talented receiver from signing with the Seminoles.
Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.