Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Rod Johnson, DeMarcus Walker on future NFL stars list

 

Dalvin Cook's "combination of vision and quick feet is second to none and a thing of beauty." .
Dalvin Cook’s “combination of vision and quick feet is second to none and a thing of beauty.”

NFL.com posted the 16 offensive players and 16 defensive players in college it believes one day will be NFL stars and Florida State is second on the list with three.

The website has RB Dalvin Cook No. 3 and OT Rod Johnson No. 15 on the offensive list, and DE DeMarcus Walker No. 15 on the defensive side.

Here is what it said about each:

Cook: When Jameis Winston struggled with interceptions and inconsistency in 2014, it was Cook who helped carry the Seminoles’ offense through some of its toughest games. Just a freshman at the time, he became the centerpiece of the offense as a sophomore with 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns. He doesn’t have the raw power of a Leonard Fournette or a Jalen Hurd, but his combination of vision and quick feet is second to none and a thing of beauty.

Rod Johnson
Rod Johnson

Johnson: As a freshman in 2014, Johnson’s talent allowed the FSU coaching staff to move eventual first-round pick Cameron Erving from the all-important left tackle position to center in the middle of a College Football Playoff chase. As a sophomore, he was named the ACC’s best blocker as winner of the Jacobs Trophy. He’s dominant as a pass protector, and will prove to be excellent security for whichever quarterback the Seminoles ultimately name as a starter this fall.

Walker: Walker’s college career has been one of vast improvement, culminating with an assortment

DeMarcus Walker
DeMarcus Walker

of personal bests last year, including tackles (58), tackles for loss (15.5), sacks (10.5) and forced fumbles (4). What did all that mean to the Seminoles? He was named FSU’s co-defensive MVP along with the No. 5 pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, Jalen Ramsey. NFL scouts will want to see more consistency from him in the area of run stopping.

Considering the list is not limited to upperclassmen and does include sophomores Calvin Ridley of Alabama and Josh Rosen of UCLA one major oversight: FSU sophomore S Derwin James.

Alabama has four players: OT Cam Robinson (12) and WR Calvin Ridley (14), and DE Jonathan Allen (3) and LB Tim Williams (11).

FSU, Alabama and Clemson (QB Deshawn Watson at No. 2 and WR Mike Williams at No. 6) are the only schools with more than one offensive player listed.

[RELATED: Florida State to keep its entire staff together for first time in four years]

[RELATED:  Jimbo Fisher not against tough openers]

[RELATED: FSU strength of schedule pulls in another top 10 rating]

 

Florida State to keep its entire staff together for first time in four years

 

Odell Haggins has been at FSU longer than any other coach on Jimbo Fisher's staff.
Odell Haggins has been at FSU longer than any other coach on Jimbo Fisher’s staff.

For the first time since 2012, FSU enters a season with the same coaching staff from the previous year.

Although the stability is nice and if there is one staff Jimbo Fisher is happy to keep together it’s this one, sometimes, though, change is good.

Fisher’s staff was the same for his first three seasons before he had to replace six assistants following 2012.

The result: The single-greatest season in school history that culminated with the 2013 national championship.

“It does help,” Fisher said when turnover is limited. “But there’s times when a little turnover is good. It generates new ideas, new influence, you don’t get in a rut. I don’t want to lose any of our coaches but the consistency definitely does help, there’s no doubt.

“But sometime when you have a change it’s not a bad thing either.”

[RELATED:  Jimbo Fisher not against tough openers]

[RELATED: FSU strength of schedule pulls in another top 10 rating]

[RELATED: Recruiting: Five-star WR Tee Higgins has FSU in top 10]

Following the 2013 season, the Seminoles lost one assistant each of the next two years: DC Jeremy Pruitt left for Georgia and LB coach Sal Sunseri bolted for the Oakland Raiders.

Although Bill Miller replaced Pruitt on the staff in 2014, Charles Kelly was promoted to coordinator. Kelly’s defense took a big step forward last season and should be even better in 2016. The closest any assistant came to leaving this year was when Auburn made a strong push for Kelly, who ultimately turned down a huge pay raise to remain in Tallahassee.

Brad Lawing replaced Sunseri and has been a solid addition, not only in coaching the defensive ends and outside linebackers but especially in recruiting.

The longest tenured assistant on staff is Odell Haggins (associate head coach/DT), who is entering his 23rd season as a coach. Haggins, Rick Trickett (assistant head coach/OL) and Lawrence Dawsey (co-OC/WR) are the three who have been with Fisher from the start.

 

 

Jimbo Fisher not against Florida State opening season against challenging opponent

Florida State is in the midst of a five-year stretch with season-opening games against Pitt (2013), Oklahoma State (2014), Texas St. (2015), Ole Miss (2016) and Alabama (2017).

FSUBama

Three are being played at neutral sites (four away from Doak Campbell Stadium) and two on Labor Day night, including in 3 ½ months when the Seminoles face Ole Miss in Orlando.

Coaches typically have mixed feelings about opening the season against a formidable opponent but much of that depends on the team they have returning.

Nobody could have predicted the success the Seminoles had in 2013 but the thought of opening the season with a road game on Labor Day night likely was not what Jimbo Fisher would have preferred.

Jameis Winston completed all but two of his 27 passes for 356 yards and 4 TDs in a 41-13 win at Pitt in his debut and the 2013 season opener. (AP Photo)
Jameis Winston completed all but two of his 27 passes for 356 yards and 4 TDs in a 41-13 win at Pitt in his debut and the 2013 season opener. (AP Photo)

But that new QB was Jameis Winston and nobody could have predicted his near perfect start and how the game would kick start an historic season.

The next year the Seminoles had to feel good about playing Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas, with Winston and much of that undefeated, national championship team returning. They struggled but held on.

“I don’t mind it,” Fisher said recently when asked about opening with a tougher opponent.

  “Non-conference, we have always jumped right in there. It makes your summer very interesting.”

FSU will enter the season with a new starting quarterback for the third time in the last four years. Fisher was asked if opening with a ranked opponent impacts his decision when it comes to a quarterback.

“I defer to the guy that gets us up and down the field the best and does what he has to do to win the game,” Fisher said.

But would he give preference to the QB with more experience?

“If I said that, then Jameis wouldn’t have played when we opened up with Pitt (in 2013). It depends on who the guy is. Some guys can handle it, some guys won’t handle it. That’s what we have to try and judge as coaches.”

The decision this year likely comes down to fifth-year senior Sean Maguire, who has played in 21 games and made five starts; or red-shirt freshman Deondre Francois, who impressed during the spring but has yet to take a snap in a college game.

By the way, here is a comparison between how the Seminoles approach their season opener vs. their two in-state rivals:

Florida State: Pitt (2013), Oklahoma State (2014), Texas St. (2015), Ole Miss (2016), Alabama (2017).

Miami: FAU (2013), Louisville (2014), Bethune-Cookman (2015), FAMU (2016), Arkansas St. (2017).

Florida: Toledo 2013), Idaho (2014), New Mexico St. (2015), UMass (2016), Michigan (2017).

[RELATED: Recruiting: Five-star WR Tee Higgins has FSU in top 10]

[RELATED: Fans expect Marcus Mariota to have a better Year 2 than Jameis Winston]

[RELATED: Nothing like a good ole fashioned Twitter war between FSU and Miami recruiters]

 

Florida State strength of schedule pulls in another top 10 rating

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Florida State’s schedule continues to be ranked among the toughest in the nation by any of the metrics.

ESPN’s Football Power Index has the Seminoles with the third toughest schedule in the nation and now FBSchedules.com is somewhat in agreement.

Although it doesn’t have the Seminoles quite as high, FB Schedules puts the Seminoles at No. 10 according to their win/loss method of measuring strength of schedule. FSU’s opponents were a combined 96-61 in 2016.

Jimbo Fisher’s team is behind LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Auburn, Southern Cal, Wisconsin, BYU, Alabama and Northwestern.

The Seminoles open the season on Labor Day night against Ole Miss in Orlando.

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Some interesting notes:

* The highest ranked of FSU’s opponents is Ole Miss at No. 3. Mississippi’s opponents were 102-52 last season.

* The lowest, and the lowest among all Power 5 schools, is Clemson at No. 108. The Tigers opponents were a combined 67-81 a year ago.

* FSU’s two in-state rivals – Miami and Florida – are 47th and 103rd. The Hurricanes’ opponents were 83-69 and the Gators’ were 69-78.

[RELATED: Recruiting: Five-star WR Tee Higgins has FSU in top 10]

[RELATED: Fans expect Marcus Mariota to have a better Year 2 than Jameis Winston]

[RELATED: Nothing like a good ole fashioned Twitter war between FSU and Miami recruiters]

 

 

 

Recruiting: WR Tee Higgins planning to visit Florida State

 

Tee Higgins is the nationals No. 3 receiver according to 247Sports composite rankings. (Photo 247Sports)
Tee Higgins is the nationals No. 3 receiver according to 247Sports composite rankings. (Photo 247Sports)

Getting caught up with a little recruiting news from our friends at 247Sports and Warchant:

* Five star WR Tee Higgins of Oak Ridge, Tenn., released his top 10 last week and FSU is among those on the list he’ll be visiting this summer.

The 6-4, 188-pound Higgins has Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, Notre Dame, Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss on his list.

“That’s my final list right now,” Higgins told 247Sports. “I’m pretty sure that I’m going to Ohio State and Florida State right now. Hopefully I can get down to Michigan.”

Higgins, who decommitted from Tennessee in February, is the nation’s No. 16 overall prospect and No. 3 wide receiver according to 247Sports composite rankings.

* Florida State’s secondary board remains star-studded for 2017.

The list includes five-star Stanford Samuels of Hollywood-Flanagan, the No. 4 cornerback in the country and four-star Jamyest Williams of Lawrenceville, Ga., the sixth-ranked corner.

FSU is a clear leader for Samuels and is battling Georgia and Clemson for Williams and

At safety, FSU is at the top for four-star Daniel Wright of Fort Lauderdale-Cardinal Gibbons, the ninth-ranked safety. Two others to watch: five-star Jeffrey Okudah of Grand Prairie, Texas, the No. 1 ranked safety; and the fifth-ranked safety, four-star Maleik Gray of LaVergne, Tenn.

FSU is in better shape with Gray at the moment but the Seminoles have made serious in-roads into Texas recently and will continue to pursue Okudah.

* IMG center Cesar Ruiz continues to talk up his visit to FSU a few weeks ago, according to Warchant. Ruiz is Rivals’ No. 1 center in the country and has developed a relationship with Rick Trickett. Ruiz told Warchant that his trip to Tallahassee was the best unofficial visit he’s ever had and he’s visited Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State. Michigan also is high on his list.

* Defensive coordinator Charles Kelly was in Cairo, Ga., last week to watch three-star LB Walker Grant, according to 247Sports. The 6-4, 235-pound Grant has been offered and FSU likes his versatility. Grant is the 26th OLB in the country according to 247Sport’s composite rankings.

* FSU coaches were surprised to hear DE Logan Rudolph of Rock Hill, S.C., committed to Clemson two weeks ago. Still, FSU has not backed off and has invited Rudolph to visit this summer and will continue to recruit him if he accepts. The 6-3, 228-pound Rudolph is the No. 20 weakside defensive end on the country according to 246Sports composite.

[RELATED: Fans expect Marcus Mariota to have a better Year 2 than Jameis Winston]

[RELATED: Nothing like a good ole fashioned Twitter war between FSU and Miami recruiters]

[RELATED: FSU safety Derwin James named to Lott IMPACT watch list]

 

Weekly 3: Recapping three of the biggest stories this week from Florida State

 

 

Jimbo Fisher has turned down inquiries from the NFL.
Jimbo Fisher would love to continue to build a national powerhouse at Florid State but says the university must “keep the same culture of what we’ve been able to create.’

We take a look back at three of the biggest stories from Florida State in the past week.

   WHEN NFL COMES CALLING, JIMBO FISHER STILL LOYAL TO FSU

Jimbo Fisher told the Palm Beach Post he has been contacted by a handful of NFL teams over the last few years but made it clear he’d “love to be (at Florida State) forever and ever.”

Fisher said he’s had opportunities to jump to the NFL as an assistant, coordinator and head coach. He was contacted by one team this year but said it wasn’t serious. As for other discussions over the years. “Had a couple in the past few years that were decently serious that you thought about for half an hour and said, ‘naah,’’ he said.

Does he think about coaching in the NFL?  “Not a lot,” he said. “It crosses your mind at times and you look at it. Again, if you’re unhappy with where you’re at, but that’s never been a driving force for me.”

Read full story here.

JIMBO LOBBIES FOR SET WEEKENDS FOR RIVALRY GAMES

florida-state-miami-epic-labor-day-battle-425    Florida State has one set game every year, its showdown with Florida on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Fisher would like to see more of those set dates for other rivalry games. “I think it only enhances the game and builds traditions,” he said.

Fisher believes having built in dates for games against Miami and Clemson would be better for the game and the fans, who can set their schedules year-to-year knowing when those games will be played.

Read the full story here.

FSU NO. 2 IN ATHLON RANKINGS, BUT ARE BEST TEAM STILL YEAR OR TWO AWAY?

Florida State is generally considered a top 5 preseason team and Athlon has the Seminoles at No. 2. But despite the lofty predictions, Fisher believes his best teams may be a year or two away. “With only 12 seniors on our team as good as we’ll be this year I think we can be better the next year and the year after that,” he said.

The Seminoles return 17 starters this season but they also have had three consecutive top 5 recruiting classes.

Read the full story here

 

 

Fans expect Marcus Mariota to have better Year 2 than Jameis Winston

 

Jameis Winston was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season with the Bucks.
Jameis Winston was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season with the Bucs. (AP Photo)

The Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota debate will continue to rage as the two quarterbacks enter their second seasons.

NFL Network did a poll asking which QB will have the better season in 2016.

The results: Mariota received 54 percent of the votes. Winston received 46 percent.

The two will be forever linked. Both won a Heisman trophy – Winston in 2013 while leading Florida State to an undefeated/national title-winning season and Mariota the next year as Oregon beat FSU in the semifinals before losing to Ohio State in the title game – and were the selected with the top two picks of the 2015 draft, Winston No. 1 by the Buccaneers followed by Mariota to the Titans.

Marcus Mariota (AP Photo)
Marcus Mariota (AP Photo)

After Mariota had a surreal start, outplaying Winston in their head-to-head matchup in the season opener and pulling in a perfect QB rating, Winston went on to win the rookie of the year (fan vote) and be named to the Pro Bowl while Mariota’s season ended early because of a knee injury. He played in 12 games.

Here are their numbers:

Winston: 312 of 535, 58.3%, 4,042 yds, 22 TDs, 15 ints, 84.2 rating.

 Mariota: 230 of 370, 62.2%, 2,818 yds, 19 TDs, 10 ints, 91.5 rating.

Mariota clearly has the quicker start with four TD passes (all in the first half) in the opener while Winston threw two scoring passes and two interceptions, including a pick six on his first NFL attempt. But neither had a great supporting cast. Both team’s offensive lines and receivers were among the worst in football.

 

 

[RELATED: Nothing like a good ole fashioned Twitter war between FSU and Miami recruiters]

[RELATED: FSU safety Derwin James named to Lott IMPACT watch list]

[RELATED: Florida State once again brings joy to ailing lacrosse star]

 

 

 

Nothing like a good ole fashioned Twitter war between Florida State and Miami recruiters

Florida State coaches celebrating their 2016 recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 by ESPN.
Florida State coaches celebrating their 2016 recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 by ESPN.

Robert Burns, a four-star running back in the ’17 class, is considered a hard commit to the University of Miami. But that didn’t stop Florida State recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach Tim Brewster from making a trip to South Florida this week to see the Gulliver Prep star.

The question is did Brewster have an ulterior motive?

Earlier this week, Brewster and Miami’s assistant director of player personnel/recruiting Jorge Baez got into a Twitter war over recruiting in Miami. You see, the Hurricanes may be a bit sensitive about the “305” as both coaches referred to it, considering their inability to keep many of the area’s better players at home, most notably Seminoles’ running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Dalvin Cook. And the list doesn’t stop there with three others  from Cook’s alma mater, Miami-Central, alone on the Seminoles roster and many more not only from Miami-Dade but South Florida in general.

FSU has signed 16 players the last four years from South Florida, including Broward and Palm Beach counties. Jimbo Fisher’s staff recently was ranked the ninth-best in the country by 247Sports. Many believed they deserved much better after signing the nation’s No. 1 class according to ESPN. Brewster was among the nation’s top 10 recruiters.

But I digress.

The flap started when Brewster, the Seminoles’ coach with the most visible presence on Twitter, sent out a tweet that Baez wasn’t exactly a fan of:

Baez shot back:

Brewster was not about to go down:

Baez then brought out the big gun, former UM football player Dwayne Johnson, better known as ‘The Rock’ for his career as a wrestler and now actor:

You think it would end there, but no. On Tuesday Brewster get in the last word (for now):

He was speaking of Coral Gables’ Amir Rasul, who signed with FSU in February. Rasul was rated the top running back in the state by Rivals and ESPN.

The back-and-forth was, presumably, all in fun. But recruiting is a serious business and nobody likes somebody else coming into their backyard and poaching players. New Miami coach and former ‘Cane QB Mark Richt is hoping to change all of this and undo the damage done by his predecessors who seemed to lose a lot of traction in South Florida. But to be fair, Miami has not let them all get away, the Hurricanes have kept many players home, including Joe Yearby, who played with Cook at Central and flipped from FSU to Miami;  Chad Thomas of Booker T. Washington, who picked Miami over FSU among others  and Mark Walton, also of Booker T.

It’s  just that Florida State has owned the state recently and Miami’s new staff is ready for the challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida State S Derwin James named to Lott IMPACT watch list

 

FSU safety Derwin James is on of 42 players on the Lott IMPACT watch list. (247/Sports)
FSU safety Derwin James was a freshman All-America in 2015 after making 91 tackles. (247/Sports)

Florida State’s Derwin James is one of 42 players on the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List.

The trophy, presented annually to the defensive impact player of the year, equally recognizes character as well as play on the field and is named in honor of college and pro football hall of famer Ronnie Lott. IMPACT stands for: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

James, a 6-3, 212 rising sophomore, was named a freshman All-America by The Sporting News, USA Today and Campus Insider last season after finishing with 91 tackles, including 9.5 for losses and 4.5 for sacks. He was graded as the nation’s second-best safety overall in 2015 by Pro Football Focus.

Coach Jimbo Fisher has repeatedly praised James’ emerging leadership skills, along with his talent, during his booster tour stops this spring.

Here is what Fisher said about James during spring practice:

“He just gets it. The physical skills are crazy, he’s unbelievably instinctive but he’s an intelligent guy, a very intelligent person, not just football player. And then he’s a great people person. Derwin’s a fun guy to be around. Guys just flock to him. He has that charisma.

“I get to spend a lot of time with (James and RB Dalvin Cook). They’re seeing the big picture of what I’m always trying to accomplish in practice, not just winning the drills and things like that. That’s where he and Dalvin and some of those older guys are really incorporating these young guys in what we’re trying to accomplish when I challenge some of those guys, when I really get on them or when I do a drill.”

EBERLE ON RIMINGTON WATCH LIST

Center Alec Eberle was named to the Rimington Trophy Spring Watch List. Eberle, who will be a redshirt sophomore in the fall, is one of 57 centers on the list. He played in 10 games last season including starting the final six games of the year.

[RELATED: Florida State once again brings joy to ailing lacrosse star]

[RELATED: Stan Wilcox looking forward to next round of renovations at Doak Campbell Stadium]

[RELATED: Jimbo Fisher lobbies for more rivalry games on set dates]

 

Florida State once again brings joy to ailing lacrosse star

 

For the second time in 4 ½ months, Florida State has brought joy to lacrosse star, John Michael Night.

Jimbo Fisher visited Night, the senior lacrosse player from Trinity Prep in Winter Haven who suffered a brain stem stroke in December leaving him with Locked-In Syndrome (LIS), which has required intensive rehabilitation. Night, 17, has been in the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for several months after spending time at Florida Hospital in Orlando. Fisher was in Atlanta for a Seminole Boosters tours stop.

Fisher brought Night an autographed football and posed for pictures.

Jimbo-Visit-1

Night, who is a big Seminoles fan, was surprised by FSU running back Jacques Patrick, who visited Night at the hospital in January. During that visit, Night got to speak to Fisher, Dalvin Cook and Roberto Aguayo on the phone. A post on Night’s CaringBridge website called it a “very special moment” for Night and said “many in the room had tears in our eyes.”

Night signed a scholarship to play at Mercer before suffering the stroke.

[RELATED: When the NFL comes calling, Jimbo Fisher still loyal to Florida State]

[RELATED: Stan Wilcox looking forward to next round of renovations at Doak Campbell Stadium]

[RELATED: Jimbo Fisher lobbies for more rivalry games on set dates]