In a move that had a pair of Florida fan bases smiling, and then shaking a fist, Levi Jones’ National Signing Day trick has generated a serious buzz on social media.
Jones, a four-star recruit listed as the 65th best player in the 2017 recruiting class by ESPN, announced his college commitment during a ceremony at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday morning. Jones stood up from the podium and unzipped a jacket to reveal a Florida Gators shirt.
Before Gators fans could begin celebrating their newest signee, Jones told the cheering crowd, “Y’all better chill,” before taking off the UF shirt and revealing a Florida State shirt underneath.
OK, Levi, you got us.
As the crowd audibly gasped, the 6’3” recruit then took off the Seminoles shirt to reveal a third and final shirt, this time indicating his commitment to the USC Trojans with the shirt and the school’s signature phrase, “Fight on.”
Levi Jones commits to Florida! Wait….Florida State! Wait…
Malik Henry’s Florida State career is over almost before it started after the former top recruit announced his intention to transfer from the university.
In a statement given to 247sports.com on Monday, Henry thanked Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher and the staff at Florida State for the opportunity they provided him, while also expressing his interest in transferring.
“I wish him and the team nothing but success,” Henry told 247sports.com. “At this time I don’t know what university I will be attending in the future.”
The California native was a highly touted four-star recruit out of high school, ranked by Rivals.com as the second best dual-threat quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class and the 34th best prospect overall. He committed to Florida State over Auburn, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan and a host of other suitors, enrolling early at FSU in January of 2016.
Henry had a turbulent tenure at FSU. He was suspended in August for a violation of team rules before being reinstated a month later. Despite the reinstatement, he ended up redshirting his freshman season behind quarterbacks Deondre Francois, Sean Maguire and J.J. Cosentino.
The only game action that Henry saw during his time at FSU was during the spring game, where he completed 15 of 22 attempted passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
The Seminoles currently have two verbal commitments from quarterbacks in the 2017 class, four-star recruit James Blackman and three-star recruit Bailey Hockman. After Francois’ impressive freshman season, it appears that the starting job is his to lose.
Lane Kiffin is already making a big impact in recruiting for FAU, signing a former Florida State quarterback Wednesday.
East Mississippi C.C. QB De’Andre Johnson has signed his letter of intent with the Owls, according to 247Sports’ Ryan Bartow. The 3-star quarterback signed with Florida State out of high school in 2015 but transferred after last season.
Johnson is the second-ranked pro-style JUCO quarterback in the country. He will enroll at FAU in January and will be able to play immediately. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Kiffin accepted the head coaching job at FAU on Monday. He will continue to serve as Alabama’s offensive coordinator through the College Football Playoff.
Alabama plays Washington in the playoff semifinal in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Cook, who made the decision in March to follow his brother to FSU, is entering his sophomore year at Miami-Central. Cook, though, turned 16 in September, which means he would have turned 19 early in his senior year and become ineligible to play under FSHAA rules.
Cook is taking online courses which would put him on a path to graduate in June of 2018,
Central coach Roland Smith approached Cook this spring about making the decision.
“We know Cook wouldn’t be able to play his senior year and we know the type of student-athlete he is so we were like why wait?,” Smith told 247Sports. “Now he can get out of here earlier and get to college sooner.”
Cook was considered a freshman in December when he gained 178 yards and scored three TDs to lead Central to its fourth consecutive state championship, a 48-13 win over Seffner-Armwood.
At 6-foot, 190 pounds, James is bigger than Dalvin was at that time.
Despite his pledge to FSU, Cook said he plans to visit Miami, Texas, USC, Clemson and Michigan, along with Florida State, this summer.
Dalvin Cook ran for a school record 1,691 yards last season and led all Power 5 backs with 7.4 yards per carry. He was seventh in the Heisman Trophy. He enters his junior season with 2,699 yards, fourth on the Seminoles career rushing list, 1,260 shy of equaling Warrick Dunn’s school record.
Centralized replay: Fisher is all for it as long as it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game, which he believes it will not. “(Careers) are depending on that, kids with what they can achieve,” Fisher said. “I think any time you can get it right, it’s great. We’re basically for it.”
Time demands: This is a major issue with administrators and athletes. Fisher said most of his players come in to do work and do other things related to football on their own but said they are never above the 20 hour limit with coaches. “Academics is No. 1, by far (but) I don’t think it takes away from academics. I don’t think it’s hard to legislate (any changes),” he said. “Occasionally I need to tell a guy to take a break but if a guy wants to come in on his own if you block that off to him he’s going to go to Gold’s Gym or he’s going to go somewhere else.”
Early signing period: Fisher has been an outspoken proponent of an early signing period, and not in December, but in the summer just before preseason camp. He was asked about the notion of allowing a prospect to sign on his visit. “That’s getting more legs in the NCAA than an early signing period, if a kid comes on a visit and wants to sign, sign him. We need an early signing period,” he said. The advantages: “You find out if a kid is really in. Also, you want to save money. .. You spend all that time and money to keep trying to recruit a guy all the way through. It gives an assistant coach more time to coach. We’re the only sport that doesn’t (have an early signing period). I can’t figure it out.”
Technology on the sideline: Fisher is for allowing iPads on the sidelines, but he is in the minority among ACC coaches. “A lot of them want the old school, which I understand,” he said. “I think technology is good. More voted against than voted for it.” Fisher likes the idea of immediately being able to show the players what they did wrong. “You would know exactly what’s wrong with a play, which kid made a mistake, how to correct it,” he said.
AMELIA ISLAND – We take a break from ACC business to bring you recruiting updates:
Recruiting coordinator Tim Brewster had a busy day scheduled today, according to 247Sports, starting in Detroit to visit with the national top-ranked receiver and then flying to Dallas to see a four-star receiver.
The 6-2, 192-pound Peoples-Jones is 247Sports composite’s No. 1 receiver and No. 6 player overall.
Brewster then hopped on a pane to visit with Tyrell Shavers, a 6-6, 202-pound receiver from Lewisville, Texas. Shaver, the No. 26 receiver in the country according to 247Sports, is leaning heavily toward Texas.
Jeury has FSU in his top 10
Florida State making a push for receiver Jerry Jeudy of Deerfield Beach High School. Juedy is being heavily pursued by Alabama and Miami.
Jeudy, 6-1, 180, has visited FSU twice this spring and plans another visit this summer according to Rivals. Jeudy had 28 for 345 yards and seven TDs in 2015. He also plays cornerback.
Jeudy recently revealed his top 10 in alphabetical order: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Jeudy told Warchant FSU made an impression during his two trips this spring.
“I hadn’t visited there before. I really liked it a lot,” he said. “Being around the players, surroundings and how they treated me there stood out. I felt comfortable with everyone there.”
Jeudy, ranked No. 7 nationally by 247Sports composite and No. 9 by Rivals, has bonded with receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey.
“We had some good conversations,” Jeudy said. “He was showing me how I would be used in their offense, more like an in-and-out receiver. Kind of the way they use Travis Rudolph. It’s an explosive offense from what I’ve seen, and I like what I see so far.”
Kelly visits four-star safety
Florida State defensive coordinator Charles Kelly visited four-star safety Maleik Gray of LaVergne, Tenn., on Tuesday.
Last weekend, Gray named the Seminoles his leader ahead of Tennessee and Alabama during an interview with 247Sports. Gray was at FSU for a camp last summer and last year’s Miami game and told 247 he plans to return for camp this summer.
The 6-1, 195-pound Gray is the No. 5 safety nationally in 247Sports’ composite rankings.
Marvin Wilson update
Defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, the top-ranked prospect in the country according to Rivals, No. 3 in 247 Sports’ composite, will spend the summer sifting through his offers.
Wilson, from Houston, has Texas and Texas A&M as his top two in-state schools, along with FSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU and Oklahoma.
Rivals updated Wilson’s recruiting and reported that some believe FSU is the favorite to land the 6-4, 329-pound Wilson. Linebacker Dontavious Jackson, a Houston native who is part of the Seminoles 2016 class, is helping FSU recruiters Tim Brewster and Odell Haggins when it comes to Wilson.