By: Brandon Mellor
Ryan Pensy said it best Wednesday morning.
I had just walked in to the office of our Director of Digital Media when he asked," This is like Christmas for you, isn't it?"
Ryan knows me very well, indeed. National Signing Day is like a holiday to me and I know it is for a lot of other diehard college football fans - especially Florida State followers that were looking especially forward to this day as the next step in the current transition of the program.
Well, when the dust settled and the fax machines were finally turned off, Seminole Nation has a lot to be excited about.
Sure, there were a few blue-chippers out there that signed their names to Letters of Intent for other schools and I am sure the FSU coaches would have liked to add another defensive end or safety. But the fact remains that the very first recruiting class under the brand new Jimbo Fisher regime is extremely impressive.
On the heels of the worst season in over 30 years, the retirement of the 'Noles living-legend head coach, Bobby Bowden, and a near-overhaul of the entire coaching staff, what Fisher and company were able to do with the 2010 class is nothing short of remarkable.
Florida State had to upgrade its defense after a difficult 2009 season that saw the traditionally-stout unit take some major hits.
Of the 24 signees (including four early enrollees that started classes in January) on Wednesday, 14 are defensive players and two athletes - Jared Haggins and Greg Dent - could eventually line up in the defensive secondary. That's as many as 16 total student-athletes that can be infused into a defensive unit that is now under the direction of Mark Stoops.
Alabama won the 2010 BCS National Championship due in large part to an attacking defense that was physically imposing.
Take a look at the defensive signees and you will see that Fisher went out and targeted big young men that are surely to intimidate opponents in the near future. Other than high school All-American speedster Lamarcus Joyner at cornerback, every defensive signee is at least six feet tall and no defensive lineman is shorter than 6-foot-3 and smaller than 260 pounds.
And what about the linebackers? New linebackers coach Greg Hudson has got to be licking his chops after the 'Noles signed arguably the nation's linebacker class.
Christian Jones and the already-enrolled Jeff Luc were considered by many experts to be the two best linebackers in the state and both will suit up in college football's best uniform for the next three to four years. Luc stands 6-foot-1 and has nothing but muscle on his 230-pound frame and Jones made a name for himself as a prep player in Central Florida due to his incredible sideline-sideline ability and 6-foot-3, 225-pound measurables.
Linebacker Telvin Smith (another 6-foot-3 guy) was the best linebacker in the state of Georgia and he, too, will be at FSU this summer. And don't forget where Smith comes from ... that's right, Lowndes County where a certain FSU star got his start breaking opponents' hearts (giveaway hint: two words, Greg Reid).
Holmes Onwukaife (cool name, right?) is yet another 6-foot-3 'backer that has a tremendous upside as the Seminoles' lone signee from the talent-rich state of Texas. Nigel Terrell is also a big, athletic guy that was blessed with great athletic skills and the chance to be a defensive force for the 'Noles.
On the defensive line, Germany native Bjoern Werner is new to the game of American football but that doesn't mean the 6-foot-4, 264-pound defensive end doesn't have the skills to make an impact at the collegiate level. Major programs were all over Werner after he started playing at a boarding school in Connecticut and FSU was fortunate to get his signature Wednesday.
Darious Cummings was Florida State's first commitment for the 2010 class and never wavered in his intent to be a Seminole (pretty special if you ask me - especially in a day and age where verbal commitments mean less and less). Like Werner, the potential of the 6-foot-3, 267-pound Cummings is through the roof.
FSU lost three defensive tackles to graduation and reloaded for 2010 and beyond with their three replacements on signing day. Anthony McCloud figures to make the most immediate impact after enrolling in January with three years left to play three following a two-year stint at Itawamba Community College.
Like McCloud, Damien Jacobs is a 6-foot-3, 290-plus-pound bull-rusher that will be added to the interior of the defensive line. Unheralded Cameron Erving flew under the radar during his high school career but at 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds with room to grow, the South Georgia product will no doubt add bulk and run-stuffing ability to the front line at FSU.
In the secondary, expect to see a lot of both Joyner and junior college standout Mike Harris in 2010.
In his signing day press conference, Fisher compared Joyner's ability on both defense and with the ball in his hands to rising junior Reid. And anybody who saw what Reid can do on the football field in 2009 as a true freshman has reason to be giddy about that comparison. Joyner's incredible mixture of speed, physicality and aggressive nature means we could see him on both offense and defense come fall (the same could be true for Reid next year ... how exciting is that?).
Harris' 6-foot frame and experience playing college ball means he could challenge for a starting spot on the outside once he gets to Tallahassee. Terrance Brooks is also a playmaker at cornerback that has exceptional speed and closing ability. Chad Abram hits like a truck and has ball-hawking abilities that adds to the depth at safety.
The Florida State offense returns 10 of 11 starters in 2010 but the infusion of young talent on that side of the ball is also apparent.
Christian Green may be the gem of the offensive class after starring at Tampa Catholic. Fisher commented Wednesday that he plays like a bigger version of rising junior Bert Reed. Think reverses, wild-cat formations and the ability to generate long gains after the catch with that comparison.
Joining Green on the outside is Orlando native Kenny Shaw and Dent. Shaw's calling card is his ability to run crisp routes and find openings in the defense as a wide receiver. Dent is a playmaking athlete that excels when in space after catching the ball.
De'Joshua Johnson and Haggins both played quarterback in high school and understand how to read defenses; an ability that comes in handy at wide receiver. Both are tremendous athletes with stellar speed.
The Seminoles signed just one offensive lineman and one running back but in this case it was quality over quantity.
At 6-foot-6 and over 300 pounds, Dan Foose is expected to be an impact player on the offensive line under the tutelage of line coach Rick Trickett. Debrale Smiley, another Itawamba Community College player that comes to FSU with three years to play three, is the big back that Fisher loves to use in his offensive gameplan.
Tight ends Tank Sessions (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and Will Tye (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) are great athletes with impressive size that will help cure the sting of losing Caz Piurowski to graduation.
While Smiley and both tight ends could see early playing time in 2010, the same likely isn't true for the Seminoles' quarterback signee: Clint Trickett. He will likely redshirt not due to lack of ability but because of the plethora of talent under center in Tallahassee. When it's his turn, though, Trickett figures to be another in what is turning out to be a growing line of smart, playmaking signal callers under Fisher's watchful eye.
And it's that watchful eye that helped spearhead one of the top recruiting classes in the entire nation this year.
If National Signing Day 2010 was like Christmas for Fisher and his coaches, then they are surely excited to utilize the 24 new toys that signed on to become Seminoles Wednesday.