Feb. 4, 2011
By Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com
Think of a college football program as a puzzle.
Just like any puzzle, you need the right pieces in the right places. Those pieces have to be the correct shape and must fit together perfectly to form a finished product.
If National Signing Day 2011 was any indication, the Florida State football program puzzle is coming together quite nicely.
Going strictly off media rankings, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff put together what is considered by many as the nation’s premier signing class. From top to bottom, the Seminoles inked several of the country’s most elite young talent at a variety of positions.
But if you throw out the rankings and the hype and all that other stuff that makes recruiting so exciting for the fans, what you’re left with is a group of highly-touted young men that together help form the picture of a potential Tallahassee masterpiece. It’s a group that gives a strong indication as to what Fisher wants the completed-puzzle that is his program to look like.
If the Southeastern Conference has showed the rest of the sports world the blueprint to winning college football championships, Fisher – who knows a thing or two about recruiting and winning in the SEC – has followed those instructions down to the finest detail.
SEC teams have won the last five BCS National Championships and they have done it with size. The old adage that the game is won in the trenches has rightfully been around forever. Big, athletic guys on the offensive and defensive lines are the foundation for a championship run. Less than a month ago Auburn captured a title with the help of an offensive line that allowed Cam Newton to work his magic and a defensive line guided by Nick Fairley that wreaked havoc on Oregon’s high-flying attack.
Alabama did the same thing a year prior.
As the fax machines stopped buzzing and the dust settled on the 2011 edition of National Signing Day Wednesday, one look at the newest ‘Noles and it’s pretty clear that Fisher and Co. knew exactly what they were looking for.
Including the early enrollees that began classes in January, 15 of FSU’s 29 signees are on the offensive and defensive lines.
Want to talk ideal size? The nine players that will be on the offensive line average measurements of 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds. The six defensive lineman average 6-foot-3 and 272 pounds. That’s before these guys even get into the weight room and start eating the necessary diet to compete in major college football.
The theme of proper size and fit even extends into the offensive and defensive backfields and to the outside.
At 6-foot-5, Jacob Coker will be the next quarterback to study under the nation’s top quarterback professor in Fisher. At 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, Kelvin Benjamin is already a defensive mismatch and he hasn’t even graduated high school yet.
At tailback, there’s really not much to explain when it comes to James Wilder, Jr. Do a quick image search for the bruising ‘back from Tampa and it’s crystal clear that future FSU opponents are going to lose some sleep as they worry about tackling him. They don’t have the same height, but fellow rushers Devonta Freeman (5-foot-8, 190 pounds) and Eric Beverly (5-foot-9, 219) aren’t going to be much easier to bring down either.
Tight end Nick O’Leary boasts ideal size for the role that he will play at FSU. He goes 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds.
Defensively, Arrington Jenkins (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) and Terrance Smith (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) fit the mold of big, athletic linebackers that can run in space.
In the defensive backfield, Karlos Williams has prototypical size for a safety at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. Lamarcus Brutus is just under 200 pounds back there as well. At cornerback, Keelin Smith fits the Xavier Rhodes-type mold at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds.
And then you have the wildcards. The game changers.
Six-foot, 175-pound wide receiver Rashad Green has the size to take a hit while also boasting the wiggle and the speed to get into the endzone on any play. Long-armed cornerback Nick Waisome is the same way. He’s got the quickness and coverage ability to match up with bigger receivers and the skill-set to take a kickoff or punt to the house.
On the heels of a big bowl victory and a successful signing day with new student-athletes set to join the family, the buzz and excitement around the program is at its highest since Fisher took over as head coach.
The rest of college football better take notice of what’s happening at Florida State.
Because it appears as though all the right pieces have fallen into place.