Feb. 6, 2004
By: Rob Wilson
Florida State’s long list of football signees appears below bringing to a close a period that some suggest represents the super bowl of internet hits. This year’s date was ironic because one day later the courts ruled, at least for now, that an underclassman could enter the NFL Draft without waiting three years after high school graduation. The implication is profound particularly for schools at the top of the recruiting heap who are presumably signing the players most likely to be tempted to “go pro” early. Just one more thing for football coaches to worry about I guess.
But perhaps the best clue to the reason for the success of FSU’s recruiting class came when Bobby Bowden took the podium on Wednesday to announce the signees. “I really enjoyed the recruiting process this year. I enjoyed meeting the families and getting to know the prospects.”
Most former football coaches that I’ve come in contact with and even some of the current ones point to the rigors and headaches of the recruiting process as one of the main reasons they get out or think about getting out. It is one of the elements that make coaching in the professional ranks appealing to top college assistants. For Bowden to enjoy the process after 54 years of coaching tells one a lot about why he enjoys so much success.
And how successful was FSU? There is a cottage industry out there which literally survives on the subject of college football recruiting and a pool of these experts shows FSU to be a consensus Top Five recruiting class and one of the Top Three classes on most lists.
Rivals.com, for instance, revealed the following about FSU’s 2004 class:
* Florida State had more signees (9) listing among the sites Top 100 than any other school.
* FSU had more four and five star recruits combined (17) than any other school in the nation (USC and LSU had 15, Miami had 13)
* Florida State signed more Top 10 recruits by their position than any other school in the nation.
* FSU had the top quarterback class in the nation (Xavier Lee and Drew Weatherford)
* Florida State had the top linebacker class in the nation.
* FSU had the top defensive back class in the nation.
* Florida State trailed only USC and Michigan with the nation’s third ranked offensive line class.
All the services have a list, but dealing with the class on a more objective level shows FSU signed 27 players including: five offensive linemen, seven defensive backs, four linebackers, three running backs, three wide receivers, two quarterbacks, two defensive linemen and a kicker. Get this, the offensive linemen alone average almost 6-6 in height and weigh a combined total of 1,530 pounds (306 average). Two thoughts – one is that for those of us who get on airplanes with these guys that is just plain scary. Two, seems to me we’ve got to start recruiting awfully tall quarterbacks.
Getting back to business – the class includes 20 players from the state of Florida. Barry Wright counts because he went to high school in Pensacola before his brief junior college stint in Kansas. Of the other seven; two came from Georgia and one each from Alabama, California, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The tallest guy is 6-9, the shortest is 5-11, the heaviest is 335 (fortunately he’s also the tallest), the lightest is 175 and there are two of them, the one traveling furthest from home comes from Oakland, California and there are two who could ride their bikes here if they wanted.
Why did we sign 27? A Division 1A school can sign as many players as they want during February, however, just 25 newcomers can enroll in school when fall classes begin – no matter how many scholarship players are returning to the team. The only other real rule with numbers is that no Division 1A team can have more than 85 student-athletes on football scholarship during any semester.
One last thing – I thought it would be interesting to look back at 1991’s class because FSU Board of Trustee member Derrick Brooks was an incoming freshman then with a height listed at 6-1, weight of 205 and his position was listed as defensive back. He was the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year and teamed with fellow signee running back Marquette Smith to give FSU the publications Offensive Player of the Year too. Here is the rest of the class just to stimulate conversation. Derrick Alexander, Enzo Armella, Devin Bush, Derrick Clark, Forrest Conley, Aaron Dely, Greg Frey, Roosevelt Givens, Scott Holmes, Juan Laureano, Tyrant Marion, Jeff McCrone, Matt Platto, Phillip Riley, Kelly Rush, Clay Shiver, and Lewis Tyre.
Spring practice starts March 2 and ends with the spring game on April 3. Kickoff for the 2004 season is September 6 in the Orange Bowl.
|2004 Official Signees|
|Name||Height||Weight||Position||Hometown (Last School)|
|Courtney Abbott||6-9||335||Offensive Line||Atlanta, GA (Westlake)|
|Dumaka Atkins||6-4||280||Offensive Line||Sarasota, FL (Booker)|
|Geoff Berniard||6-8||320||Offensive Line||Lafayette, LA (St. Thomas More)|
|J.R. Bryant||6-1||170||Defensive Back||Miami, FL (Killian)|
|Greg Carr||6-6||200||Wide Receiver||Citra, FL (North Marion)|
|Tony Carter||5-9||175||Defensive Back||Jacksonville, FL (Mandarin)|
|Gary Cismesia||5-11||209||Kicker||Bradenton, FL (Lakewood Ranch)|
|Jacky Claude||6-4||290||Offensive Line||Miami, FL (Edison)|
|Emmanuel Dunbar||6-5||265||Defensive Line||Deerfield Beach, FL (Deerfield Beach)|
|Jamaal Edwards||6-0||202||Running Back||Greensboro, NC (Dudley)|
|DeCody Fagg||6-3||185||Wide Receiver||Quincy, FL (Hargrave Military Academy)|
|Trevor Ford||6-1||187||Defensive Back||Miami, FL (Northwestern)|
|Rodney Gallon||6-0||210||Linebacker||Tallahassee, FL (Lincoln)|
|Kenny Ingram||6-6||200||Defensive Back||Orlando, FL (Edgewater)|
|Aaron Jones, III||6-3||270||Defensive Tackle||Orlando, FL (Edgewater)|
|Xavier Lee||6-4||200||Quarterback||Daytona Beach, FL (Seabreeze)|
|Cornelius Lewis||6-4||305||Offensive Line||Jacksonville, FL (Raines)|
|Lamar Lewis||5-9||188||Running Back||Jacksonville, FL (Trinity Christian)|
|Joe Manning||6-0||175||Defensive Back||Tallahassee, FL (Lincoln)|
|Darius McClure||5-11||188||Defensive Back||Adamsville, AL (Minor)|
|Kenny O’Neal||6-1||195||Wide Receiver||Oakland, CA (Skyline)|
|Joe Surratt||6-1||255||Fullback||Pace, FL (Pace)|
|Jae Thaxton||6-3||225||Linebacker||Hartwell, GA (Hart Co.)|
|Lawrence Timmons||6-3||225||Linebacker||Florence, SC (Wilson)|
|Jonathan Warren||6-1||190||Defensive Back||Madison, FL (Madison)|
|Drew Weatherford||6-3||205||Quarterback||Land O’ Lakes, FL (Land O’ Lakes)|
|Barry Wright||5-11||215||Linebacker||Coffeyville, KS (Coffeyville CC)|
A three-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 29 ranked offensive tackle in the nation…can squat over 500 lbs. and benches from 300 to 360 lbs…nickname is “Baby Shaq”…has great speed for a player his size…also played basketball for Westlake…picked Florida State over Florida, LSU, Virginia and Kentucky.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 11 rated offensive guard in the nation…as a junior, he graded out at 93 % on the offensive line and earned all-area and all-district honors…earned honorable mention all-state for class 3A…named first-team all-state as a senior…has a 300 lb. bench press and can squat 475 lbs…was a member of team Florida in the 2004 California-Florida Bowl played on January 2… older brother, Baraka, plays defensive end for the Miami Hurricanes…picked Florida State over Michigan, Florida, LSU, Iowa and Ohio State.
A three-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 46 rated offensive tackle in the country…earned first-team all-state honors, all-district for 5-AAAA, first-team all-Lafayette parish, and first-team all-Acadiana area as a junior…has tremendous size, quickness, and strength…can develop into a very good offensive lineman…would like to major in Business at FSU…picked Florida State over South Carolina, Tennessee and Tulane.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 3 rated cornerback in the country…named to the Riddell Footwear all-america team…PrepStar Top 100 Dream Team member…No. 2 rated defensive back on the Tallahassee Democrat Sunshine 75…played both wide receiver and cornerback during his senior season…had 10 catches and two TD’s as well as 37 tackles and four INT’s…as a junior, he rushed for 168 yards and three TD’s, returned 12 kickoffs (two for touchdowns) and also returned 15 punts (two for touchdowns)…on defense from his cornerback position, he had 34 tackles, six pass break-ups and one interception…was a member of the Florida squad in the 2004 California-Florida Bowl, returning a third quarter interception for a touchdown…has been timed at 4.50 in the 40…picked Florida State over Miami, Florida, Ohio State and NC State.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 21 rated wide-receiver in the nation…all-state selection as a junior for Class 3A…recorded 42 catches for 1,142 and 13 TD’s…a two-sport athlete who also played basketball at North Marion.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 2 rated cornerback in the nation…named to the Tallahassee Democrat Sunshine 75…one of the fastest players in the state of Florida with a consistent 4.30 in the 40-yard dash…had 4 INT’s, blocked 2 kicks, and scored 5 TD’s all while splitting time at quarterback and wide receiver in addition to his regular cornerback duties his senior year…earned third-team all-state honors for class 6A after tallying 43 tackles and 9 INT’s…was the MVP of the Nike camp held in Gainesville in the spring of 2003…as a junior he made it to the state finals in the 110-M hurdles…was also a member of the East squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio played on January 3…picked Florida State over Tennessee and North Carolina.
A two-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 15 rated kicker in the nation…garnered first-team All-American from Kicking.com…was the Manatee County MVP and was named all-area for Manatee and Sarasota counties…made 12-of-14 field goals, including all five attempts from over 50 yards…in addition, 89% of his kickoffs went for touchbacks…earned first-team all-state honors as a junior…picked Florida State over Georgia Tech.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 8 rated offensive guard in the nation…fifth rated offensive lineman on the Tallahassee Democrat Sunshine 75…an extremely talented lineman who moves very well…did not give up a sack and had 35 pancake blocks during his senior season…earned All-Dade County honors and was also named first-team all-state for class 5A…helped his team to an 11-2 record as a senior…again did not allow a sack and had 29 intimidation blocks as a junior…earned first-team All-Dade County and second-team all-state honors…played for team Florida in the 2004 California-Florida Bowl on January 2…has been timed at a 4.90 in the 40…picked Florida State over Miami, Auburn, Ohio State and NC State.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 12 rated strong side defensive end in the country…fourth rated defensive lineman on the Tallahassee Democrat Sunshine 75…as a senior he had 112 tackles and 16 sacks…earned first team all-state honors for class 6A…was all-area as a junior…played for team Florida in the 2004 California-Florida Bowl played on January 2 and was also a participant in the Dade/Broward All-Star game…a big time talent and can play defensive end or defensive tackle…has excellent size and can really move…has been timed at 4.70 in the 40…would like to major in Education at FSU…picked Florida State over Oklahoma, NC State and Virginia Tech.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 7 rated running back in the nation…named to the Superprep Elite 50…PrepStar Top 100 Dream Team member…the No. 2 rated player on the North Carolina Top 25…earned his first recognition at age 13 when he became the National Junior Champion in the 100-yard dash…has a time of 10.7 seconds in the 100 meters…as a senior he rushed for 2,000 yards and 22 TD’s…rushed for 2,387 yards on 346 carries (6.9 average) and 31 TD’s in leading his team to the 3A championship game his junior season…was a member of the North Carolina squad in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, pitting all-stars from North Carolina against all-stars from South Carolina…the North Carolina team won 21-12 as Jamaal had 11 carries for 88 yards in the game…has been timed at 4.40 in the 40…would like to major in Physical Education/Sports Medicine at FSU…picked Florida State over North Carolina, Tennessee and Clemson.
Quincy, FL (Hargrave Military Academy)
Enrolled at Florida State in the spring of 2004…attended Shanks High School…originally committed to Florida State in 2003 before going to Hawgrave Military Academy…broke his leg at the beginning of the season at Hargrave…a four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 15 rated wide receiver in the nation…voted one of Florida’s Super 75 by the Florida Times Union…ranked in Rivals Southeast Top 100…one of Florida’s Top 100 by the Orlando Sentinel…also ranked No. 27 in Rivals.com Florida Top 100…as a senior, recorded 41 catches for 808 yards and 11 TD’s…made class 2A first-team all-state and was named the class 2A Player of the Year…scored four TD’s in Shanks’ first round playoff loss to Walton 49-48 (OT)…was selected to play in the 2003 California-Florida Bowl…earned all-conference and all-county honors as a junior…tallied 29 catches for 585 yards…has been timed at 4.40 in the 40…picked Florida State over Florida and Georgia.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 6 rated cornerback in the nation… PrepStar Top 100 Dream Team member…finished with 48 tackles, 5 INT’s and 11 pas break-ups his senior season…was named all-Dade honorable mention as a junior after totaling 75 tackles, 3 INT’s and 15 pass break-ups…was a member of team Florida in the 2004 California-Florida Bowl and recorded the game ending interception that helped preserve the win for team Florida…has been timed at 4.40 in the 40…picked Florida State over Miami and Kansas State.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 9 rated outside linebacker in the nation…named to the Tallahassee Democrat Sunshine 75…as a senior he had 135 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries…earned first-team all-state honors for class 4A…had 106 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 4 fumble recoveries during his junior season…a member of team Florida in the California-Florida Bowl played on January 2, where he tallied 8 tackles as team Florida beat team California 24-22…has the speed to play sideline to sideline…has been timed at 4.50 in the 40…would like to major in Sport Management at FSU…picked Florida State over Auburn, Tennessee and Nebraska.
A three-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 14 rated safety in the nation…a two-sport athlete who also played basketball at Edgewater…helped lead his team to the 6A State Championship in 2003…totaled 60 tackles and five INT’s as a senior…as a junior, he recorded 60 tackles (35 unassisted tackles and 25 assisted) along with six INT’s…was a member of team Florida in the 2004 California-Florida Bowl…has been timed at 4.51 in the 40…picked Florida State over Miami, Florida and Georgia.
A five-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 10 rated defensive tackle in the nation… USA Today second-team defense all-american…regarded as the top defensive tackle in the state of Florida…earned all-league, all-area and all-state honors while racking up 80 tackles and five sacks his senior season…as a junior, he earned all-league, all-area and all-state honors…totaled 69 tackles, including 49 unassisted, 15 tackles for loss and 11 sacks…has a great combination of size and speed…has been timed at 4.80 in the 40…was starter for the East squad in the 2004 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, TX…his father, Aaron Sr., was a first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers and played nine seasons in the NFL…would like to major in Business/Criminology at FSU…picked Florida State over Miami, Georgia and NC State.
A five-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 1 rated dual threat quarterback in the nation…named to the Superprep Elite 50…PrepStar Top 100 Dream Team member…regarded by some as the top quarterback prospect in the country…holds Florida’s all-time record for passing yards (9,082), completions (549) and TD’s (98)…named Florida’s Mr. Football for 2003…earned first-team all-state and 3A Player of the Year…in 10 games during the 2003 season he rushed for 567 yards on 104 carries with 10 TD’s…was 198-for-361 (54%) for 3,133 yards, 37 TD’s and only 7 INT’s…was again named first-team all-state as a junior and was named 3A Player of the Year for the second straight year…rushed for 461 yards and 13 TD’s and was 188-for-304 (62%) passing for 3,075 yards with 33 TD’s and 10 INT’s…was a member of the East squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl played on January 3, 2004 in San Antonio, TX…has been timed at 4.50 in the 40…picked Florida State over Texas and Auburn.
A three-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 20 rated offensive guard prospect in the nation…named to the Florida Times Union Super 24 team…very strong, quick and agile for a player his size…garnered all-Gateway conference honors in 2003…helped lead his team to a 9-1 record in 2003 as they advanced to the second round of the state playoffs…earned all-Gateway conference, all-First Coast and third team all-state honors as a junior…picked Florida State over Tennessee and North Carolina.
A three-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 24 rated all-purpose back in the country…fourth rated running back in the Tallahassee Democrat Sunshine 75… as a senior he had 1,600 yards and 22 TD’s in helping his Trinity Christian team to the 1A state championship, defeating Ft. Meade 17-7…earned all-state honors as a junior after tallying 1,900 yards and 27 TD’s…from his DB spot he had 50 unassisted tackles, 31 assisted tackles, 5 INT’s and 12 pass breakups…has been timed at 4.40 in the 40…picked Florida State over Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Florida.
A three-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 29 rated cornerback in the country…another in the long line of talented players coming out of Lincoln High School…as a senior he had 71 tackles, 5 INT’s and 7 pass breakups…also blocked 3 punts and 2 extra points on special teams…earned all-Big Bend honors and second-team all-state honors for class 4A…was also a member of team Florida in the 2004 California-Florida Bowl played on January 2…a ferocious hitter and plays the game extremely hard…has been timed at 4.50 in the 40…would like to major in Sport Management at FSU…picked Florida State over Auburn, Tennessee, Nebraska and Syracuse.
A three-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 36 rated cornerback in the county…as a senior he had 49 tackles, 1 INT and 3 forced fumbles…also returned 3 punts for TD’s and blocked a FG for a TD….on offense, he rushed for 265 yards on 12 carries and had 3 TD’s…caught 4 passes for 104 yards and 1 TD…is a hard hitting safety who can run extremely well…has been timed at 4.50 in the 40…would like to major in Business Management at FSU…picked Florida State over Auburn.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and some feel he is a top five wide receiver nationally…named to the Superprep Elite 50…originally from Georgia as he transferred to Oakland from Benedictine Military School…as a senior, he caught 35 passes for 850 yards and 24 TD’s which included four kickoff returns for TD’s…was the Georgia state 5A champ in the 100M as a sophomore and his best time in the 100M is 10.3 seconds…has been timed at 4.30 in the 40…his dad, Kenny O’Neal, Sr. was a tight end for the New Orleans Saints…picked Florida State over Georgia, Florida, LSU and Oregon.
A two-star player by Rivals.com…a big bruising fullback with good speed…rushed for 958 yards on 176 attempts (5.4 average) with 13 TD’s in just nine games during his senior season…also had nine receptions for 109 yards…earned honorable mention all-Northwest Florida honors…has been timed at 4.70 in the 40…picked Florida State over Auburn, Clemson, Southern Mississippi and South Florida.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 9 rated inside linebacker in the nation…also the No. 75 player in the Rivals Top 100 as well as the No. 8 player in the Georgia Top 50…averaged 20 tackles per game for his career at Hart Co., set the school record tackles with more than 500 for his career…as a senior he amassed over 160 tackles, four sacks and two fumble recoveries…tallied over 150 tackles his junior season earning all-state and all-area honors…his sophomore season he totaled 201 tackles…very quick and has great size for a linebacker…has been timed at 4.60 in the 40…picked Florida State over Georgia, LSU and Florida.
A three-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 4 rated outside linebacker in the nation…named to the Superperp Elite 50… PrepStar Top 100 Dream Team member…named South Carlina’s Defensive Player of the Year…earned all-state honors at linebacker his senior season after tallying over 150 tackles and two sacks…also had 47 catches for over 800 yards and five TD’s at tight end…selected all-state as a tight end his junior season…had 42 reception for 680 yards and 14 TD’s…on defense he had 95 tackles and four sacks…was selected to play in the 2003 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas pitting North Carolina All-Stars against the South Carolina All-Stars…has been timed at 4.60 in the 40…picked Florida State over Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 26 rated safety in the nation…a hard-hitting safety who is strong against the pass and the run…earned All-North Florida honors with 65 tackles and two INT’s as a junior…as a sophomore he had 13 INT’s …his Madison County team finished runner up in the state 2A championship, losing to Chaminade…he rushed for 81 yards on only 5 carries (16.2 average) and led the team with 9 tackles…also competed in track, participating in the 100M, 400M, 4×100, long jump and the high jump…was a member of team Florida in the 2004 California-Florida Bowl held on January 2…has been timed at 4.50 in the 40…picked Florida State over Florida.
A four-star player by Rivals.com and the No. 6 rated pro-style quarterback in the country…No. 2 quarterback on the Tallahassee Democrat Sunshine 75…as a junior he earned all state honors after going 151-215 (70 %) for 2,494 yards, 37 TD’s and 2 INT’s…was the Tampa Tribune’s Pasco County Player of the Year…completed 172 passes on 341 (50%) attempts for 2,639 yards and 20 TD’s as a senior…also rushed for 470 yards and 10 TD’s…played safety as well and had 120 tackles and 8 INT’s as his team finished 8-5 in 2003…was named Florida’s 4A Player of the Year as well as the St. Pete Times 2003 All Suncoast Player of the Year…was one of the QB’s for Team Florida in the California-Florida Bowl played on January 2…originally from Texas, his father and grandfather played for SMU…a classic pro-style quarterback who has a great arm and very good skills…has been timed at 4.70 in the 40…picked Florida State over Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and NC State.
Enrolled at FSU in the spring of 2004…a four-star player by Rivals.com…a native of Pensacola, Fla. (Woodham High School)…had an outstanding senior season as he totaled 156 tackles and 14 sacks…in 2003 at Coffeyville CC, he tallied 89 tackles and four sacks in leading his team to a 9-2 record…earned all-conference and JUCO all-american honors…extremely fast linebacker with the speed to cover the field side to side…has been timed at a 4.40/40…picked Florida State over South Carolina and West Virginia.