Fisher told me today that that rings were not handed out for winning a state title but because FSU rewards its players for major accomplishments, such as playing in a New Year’s Six, or major, bowl game, win or lose that game.
“We got them because we went to a New Year’s Six Bowl, that’s always a goal,” Fisher said. “That wasn’t because we were state champions.”
Fisher also mentioned another 10-win season and his seniors winning 49 games among those accomplishments but said he would not have ordered rings if FSU had not been invited to a New Year’s Six bowl.
Fisher’s reaction to the criticism: “I don’t care. That’s why I don’t have Twitter or go on social media.”
Under Fisher, FSU players have received rings for winning the 2013 national title and three ACC titles (one of those being 2013). They also have a ring for defeating Notre Dame in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl.
Bobby Bowden had a similar philosophy. His last team received a ring for winning his final game, the Gator Bowl following the 2009 season.
And although this year’s ring recognizes the Seminoles’ state championship among the Big Three schools (their fifth in six seasons under Fisher), it also lists the 49 wins in the last four years and the Chick Fil a Bowl, a 28-24 loss to Houston.
“If we go to a major bowl we get a ring,” Fisher said.
Florida State’s 2011 recruiting class likely will go down as the greatest in school history, but Jimbo Fisher is just as impressed with the 2012 class.
With the completion of the 2016 draft, the 2011 class is on the books. The final numbers: Of the 29 players signed, nine were drafted into the NFL, eight others signed as undrafted free agents and six more contributed at FSU during their careers.
That’s 23 hits – of which you could say 19 were impact players – an ungodly percentage when it comes to the inexact science of recruiting.
The class was ranked No. 1 by ESPN and Scout and No. 2 by 247Sports and Rivals.
Chris Nee, the recruiting analyst for 247 Sports, once told the Palm Beach Post that hitting on 50 percent of recruits is typical. And that’s just counting those who contribute, not those who become impact players. He said FSU’s success rate in 2011 was “absurdly high.”
The top end players in the 2011 class:
Kelvin Benjamin (1st round pick), Cornelius Carradine (2), Timmy Jernigan (2), Tre Jackson (4), Devonta Freeman (4), Rashad Greene (5), Karlos Williams (5), Nick O’Leary (6), Bobby Hart (7).
Others: Jose Matias (FA), James Wilder (FA), Lamarcus Brutus (FA), Nile Lawrence-Stample (FA), Giorgio Newberry (FA), Jacob Coker (FA), Ruben Carter (FA), Austin Barron, Nick Waisome, Keelin Smith, Tyler Hunter.
Then there was 2012. While the 2011 class had the quantity, the 2012 class was much smaller in numbers (19) but even better at the top.
The 2012 class includes seven players selected in the top three rounds and two more who have signed as free agents. Three – including QB Sean Maguire – have not concluded their college careers.
The class had 10 hits, all being impact players, and that does not including Marvin Bracy, who turned professional in track.
The class was ranked No. 2 by ESPN, No. 3 by 247Sports, No. 6 by Rivals and No. 11 by Scout.
“I’d like to see what it is now,” Fisher said. “The percentage is crazy.”
Actually, 36.7 percent of the 2012 class has been drafted, compared to 31 percent of the 2012 class.
The top end players in the 2012 class:
Jameis Winston (1st round pick), Ronald Darby (2), Eddie Goldman (2), Menelik Watson (2), Mario Edwards (2), Roberto Aguayo (2), P.J. Williams (2).
Others: Reggie Northrup (FA), Cason Beatty (FA), Sean Maguire, Chris Casher.
“You find a bunch of really good players (in 2011) and the next class you had all the top end guys,” Fisher said.
“You could argue that without a doubt, pure numbers, it’s a hell of a class,” Fisher said of 2011. “It’s still hard not to take the class that has the first pick in the draft and Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards.”
One more thing: Is it any wonder the Seminoles won the 2013 national championship? Take a look at the names and you a huge part of the team that ran the table and brought FSU its third title.
With 17 returning starters, Florida State has few holes to fill after losing an interior defensive lineman, two linebackers and two defensive backs.
But Jimbo Fisher has the program in a position where it’s always thinking a year (or two) ahead in its development and able to anticipate the losses, whether two players are drafted (2016) or 11 (2015).
FSU will be in the top five of most preseason polls which means the talent is not lacking. We take a look at that talent from a positional standpoint and rank those units from deepest to weakest.
1. Secondary: Even after losing the fifth overall pick in the draft (Jalen Ramsey), this position is loaded with future NFL players. We start with the most talented player on defense, sophomore Derwin James, who is garnering All-American talk after forging his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman. James showed his athletic ability after taking over at strong safety. He did make freshman mistakes in 2015, especially in games against Georgia Tech and Houston, but he is poised for a breakout season. The group will receive a big boost with the return of Trey Marshall from injury at the nickel, and safety Nate Andrews is back for a fourth year. The only big question mark is who replaces Ramsey opposite cornerback Marquez White. Tarvarus McFadden appears to have the edge. What also separates the secondary is the depth. A lot of programs would like to have talents like Calvin Brewton, Marcus Lewis, A.J. Westbrook and newcomer Levonta Taylor playing every down.
2. Defensive line: This unit shot to the top when DE DeMarcus Walker decided to forgo the draft and return for his senior season. Walker and sophomore Josh Sweat give FSU one of the top end tandems in the country. And the interior isn’t bad either with junior Derrick Nnadi returning after his first year as a starter and Demarcus Christmas ready to replace Nile Lawrence-Stample. Jacob Pugh and Fred Jones provide the primary depth but the position has been hurt by attrition and needs a few more bodies.
3. Running back: One player makes this one of the top units on the team (and in the country) but what keeps it from coming in any higher is the uncertainty behind Dalvin Cook. Cook returns after a record-breaking season and seventh place finish in the Heisman voting and the fullback spot is secure with Freddie Stevenson. But what cannot be totally discounted are the nagging injuries that limited Cook last season and what kind of production FSU will get behind Cook. Jacques Patrick showed flashes as a freshman last season and had a great game against Syracuse when Cook was held out because of an ankle injury. Still, at times he was underwhelming. Ryan Green had a solid spring but the running back turned cornerback turned running back has carried the ball six times in the last two years.
4. Receivers/tight end: The numbers – three receivers with at least 57 catches – are impressive but all agree even more was expected. They all return and the 2014 and 2015 stacked recruiting classes are a year older. The position received a huge boost in the spring with the emergence of Auden Tate. I believe he could become the big (as in 6-5) receiver FSU has lacked since Kelvin Benjamin left. Then there was the maturity and improvement Travis Rudolph showed in the spring. All it will take is one or two more of the young players to emerge to go along with veterans Rudolph, Jesus Wilson and Kermit Whitfield and they could be a dynamite group. As for tight end, Ryan Izzo proved more than capable last year and this, too, is a diverse, deep group.
5. Offensive line: Perhaps the biggest mystery on the team. At times the line was solid last season and at times it looked lost. No question the talent is there and, in fact, some of that talent is in the extraordinary depth this group possesses with 20 offensive linemen on scholarship. But beyond LT Rod Johnson (an All-American candidate and projected first round pick in early mock drafts) a lot has to come together. Coaches are confident LG Kareem Are, C Alec Eberle, RG Wilson Bell and RT Brock Ruble will jell. And the likelihood is they do. But I still need to see it. More than any other position, I believe the offensive line will determine whether Florida State is a true title contender this year.
6. Quarterback: Two years of Jameis Winston seems so far removed. This position remains somewhat of a mystery – and as always will be scrutinized more than any other during camp – for two reasons: The known (senior Sean Maguire) and the unknown (freshman Deondre Francois). Maguire is capable. He was solid, not spectacular after Everett Golson imploded last year and he does deserve a break for his Peach Bowl performance after playing more than two quarters on a broken ankle. But can he lead FSU to the ACC title and playoffs? That answer varies depending on who you are asking. Francois has all the potential and tools but he has yet to take a snap in a college game. Obviously, this position is hugely important and it could turn out to be a strength or a weakness.
7. Linebackers: The Seminoles lost both their starters, although neither was drafted, but still are confident that juniors Ro’Derrick Hoskins and Matthew Thomas will seamlessly step in. Hoskins is more certain after being a key contributor last year with Reggie Northrup limited early from offseason knee surgery and Terrance Smith missing four games later because of an ankle injury. Thomas is not as reliable only because of a checkered history that last limited him to 12 games since signing in 2013 because of suspensions. The position has had depth issues in the past but coaches hope Josh Brown and Sh’Mar Kilby-Lane will solve that this season.