Nov. 21, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Saturday’s rivalry game against Florida marks the final time that many Florida State players will compete inside the hallowed brick walls of Doak Campbell Stadium.
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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Here’s a breakdown of each member of the 2009 recruiting class that was signed nearly four full seasons ago.
Not included are seniors EJ Manuel, Everett Dawkins, Moses McCray, Nick Moody, Vince Williams and Toshmon Stevens (2008 signees), Debrale Smiley and Anthony McCloud (2010 signees), Cornellius Carradine and Jacob Fahrenkrug (2011 signees) and Daniel Glauser (2012 signee).
Justin Bright – Defensive Back – Rivals.com three-star, Scout.com three-star:
Bright was a top-50 safety prospect coming out of powerful Byrnes High School in South Carolina and has played a reserve role for the Seminoles after redshirting in 2009. Bright has played in a combined 16 games during his career heading into the final home contest of the year Saturday. He is currently a redshirt junior.
Gerald Demps – Defensive Back – Rivals.com three-star, Scout.com three-star:
Like Bright, Demps has been a special teams player and reserve in the secondary since he got to Tallahassee from nearby Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Ga. Demps has played in seven games this year with two tackles to his credit after being a scout-team member last season. He also has one year of eligibility left.
Willie Downs – Athlete – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com four-star:
A talented prospect at Tallahassee’s Godby High School, Downs could have lined up at either safety or wide receiver for the ‘Noles but instead wound up at Pearl River Community College where he hauled in 24 catches for 402 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the program after six games.
JaJuan Harley – Defensive Back – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com four-star:
Another highly-touted local prospect, Harley was a hard-hitting defensive back that earned immediate playing time on special teams at FSU as a true freshman in 2009. But after playing sparingly as a sophomore, Harley asked for and was granted a release from his Florida State scholarship late in the 2010 season.
Harley wound up transferring to Middle Tennessee State and, after sitting out the 2011 season per NCAA transfer rules, he currently leads the Blue Raiders in interceptions and is second on the team in total tackles as a redshirt junior.
Willie Haulstead – Wide Receiver – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com three-star:
Haulstead played in all 13 of FSU’s games his freshman year in a special teams role before braking out in 2010. His sophomore campaign saw the Titusville, Fla. native lead FSU in touchdown grabs with six and average yards per catch with 15.4. Head coach Jimbo Fisher and the offensive staff had high hopes for Haulstead last year but a fall-camp concussion sidelined him for the entire season and he was granted a medical redshirt.
Haulstead was cleared to play in 2012 and was even named to the preseason Biletnikoff Watch List. He hasn’t been nearly as effective as he was his last full season but Fisher has said in recent weeks that he has seen Haulstead improving. He currently has three catches for 31 yards with one season of eligibility left.
Dan Hicks – Tight End – Rivals.com three-star, Scout.com two-star:
Hicks came to FSU as an unheralded tight-end recruit after an injury cost him of his senior season. Upon arriving in Tallahassee and to the school that made his father, Dan Footman, famous, Hicks was moved to defensive end and redshirted before racking up 18 tackles in 13 games in 2010. Hicks again played on defense every game last year as a backup on the right side of the line but was then moved to tight end in the off-season.
Hicks never got much chance to show his skills at his old high school position as he sustained a season-ending injury during fall camp earlier this year. Hicks has one year of eligibility left.
Dustin Hopkins – Kicker – Rivals.com three-star, Scout.com three-star:
Hopkins went from being arguably the best high-school kicker in the country in 2009 to arguably the best college kicker in the country in 2012. Coming to the tail end of what has been a fantastic career at FSU, Hopkins set the NCAA’s all-time scoring record among kickers in the ‘Noles’ win at Maryland last weekend and will continue to add to that total with three games still to play.
A semifinalist in 2010 for kicking’s ultimate college-football award, the Lou Groza, and a finalist in 2011, Hopkins is once again one of three kickers up for the honor this year. No. 18 will go down as one of the best to ever wear an FSU uniform.
Brandon Jenkins – Defensive End – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com four-star:
What can you say about Jenkins that hasn’t already been said? Soft-spoken but ruthless when it comes to getting after the quarterback, the Tallahassee native played meaningful snaps as a freshman and then became a household name his sophomore year as one of the nation’s best defensive ends.
After flirting with the idea of turning pro following the 2011 season, Jenkins came back to FSU only to be lost for the season because of a foot injury in the first game of the year. Jenkins is eligible for a medical redshirt but announced Monday night that he will not return to Florida State.
Demonte McAllister – Defensive Tackle – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com four-star:
If you were going to give one FSU player a “most improved” award for the 2012 season, McAllister would probably be the one bestowed the honor.
McAllister, a redshirt junior with one more year to play, has had the best year of his career this season. After registering a combined 21 tackles and three sacks in 2010 and 2011 after redshirting, McAllister has 22 stops and 2 1/2 sacks this year and has been one of the most consistent players in the middle of FSU’s defensive line.
FSU loses McCloud and Dawkins after this season so McAllister will be a key returnee in 2013.
Jacobbi McDaniel – Defensive Tackle – Rivals.com five-star, Scout.com five-star:
McDaniel made an impact the second he walked on campus, playing in all 13 games as a true freshman and starting two of them. That first year in Tallahassee saw him lead all of FSU’s interior linemen in tackles with 25 before he added 31 tackles as a full-time starter a year later.
McDaniel broke his ankle at Duke last season and the repercussions are still being felt. McDaniel bounced back from the injury and even competed in the early parts of fall camp this season but it was determined that his ankle wasn’t fully ready for competition and he is currently redshirting this year.
C.J. Mizell – Linebacker – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com four-star:
Another one of FSU’s talented local signees, Mizell was one of the nation’s top linebacker prospects coming out of Leon High School before eventually winding up at Washington State in time for the 2010 season where he became a playmaker on the Cougars’ defense.
But after starting 15 games at Washington State over the course of two seasons, Mizell was kicked off the team by new coach Mike Leach earlier this year.
Henry Orelus – Offensive Lineman – Rivals.com three-star, Scout.com three-star:
After redshirting in 2009, Orelus became a vital part of FSU’s offensive line because of injuries in 2010. A “utility man” type of player, Orelus started four games at tackle and one at guard during his redshirt season and appeared poised to make a run at even more playing time in 2011 but instead a preseason concussion kept Orelus out of action all of last year.
He is currently a reserve on the offensive line with one year of eligibility left.
Aubrey Phillips – Offensive Lineman – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com four-star:
A massive 6-foot-6 and 300-plus pounds coming out of high school in Mississippi, Phillips was expected to be an important addition to Rick Trickett’s offensive line at FSU. Phillips, however, requested a release from his ‘Noles’ scholarship shortly after joining the program in the summer of 2009. After being granted a full release, Phillips enrolled at Auburn before leaving the Tigers’ program for an undisclosed reason.
Phillips later rejoined the team as a walk-on in the spring after Auburn won its national championship but did not play at all in 2011 and was not on the team this year.
John Prior – Offensive Lineman – Rivals.com three-star, Scout.com three-star:
Like Phillips, Prior’s career at FSU ended in a transfer to another school. After redshirting at Florida State in 2009, Prior went back to his home state to join Ohio University’s football program.
He is currently the starting left tackle for the Bobcats.
Lonnie Pryor – Running Back – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com four-star:
Pryor came to FSU as one of the top high school running backs in 2009 but selflessly agreed to move to fullback where he became one of the team’s most important offensive players. Selfless and team-first in his approach, Pryor is a fan favorite because of his no-nonsense play and work ethic.
Pryor was the only freshman on the roster in 2009 to play in all 13 games and since then has honed his craft by developing a strong ability to run- and pass-block while also being a dangerous ball carrier and receiver out of the backfield.
Greg Reid – Defensive Back – Rivals.com five-star, Scout.com four-star:
Reid was one of the top high school players in America as a senior and, to the delight of everyone in Tallahassee, switched from his original commitment to Florida and eventually signed with FSU out of Lowndes High School. An electrifying player with the football in his hands during his prep days, Reid came to FSU as a cornerback but led the nation with 18.4 yards per punt return as a rookie. After starting a combined 23 games an earning a defensive MVP award in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl, Reid was dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules before the start of the 2012 season.
Reid wound up at Valdosta State where he would have been eligible for immediate playing time but he sustained a season-ending knee injury shortly after joining the team.
Xavier Rhodes – Wide Receiver – Rivals.com three-star, Scout.com three-star:
An unheralded wide receiver recruit, the FSU coaching staff saw something in Rhodes that made them believe he could be a star at defensive back and they were exactly right. Regarded as one of the top cover corners in the country after his breakout redshirt freshman season in 2010 when he started all 14 games and earned All-America and ACC Defensive Freshman of the Year honors, Rhodes has consistently locked down one side of the field the last few seasons.
A projected early-round NFL Draft selection should he choose to leave FSU after what is his redshirt junior season this year, Rhodes will have a big decision to make in the wake of FSU’s upcoming bowl game.
Will Secord – Quarterback – Rivals.com three-star, Scout.com three-star:
A one-time Arkansas commitment, Secord came to FSU in 2009 with ideas of being the next in line at quarterback behind Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel. After Secord redshirted his first year, Clint Trickett was signed a year later and eventually beat out Secord for the No. 2 job heading into the 2011 season.
The Seminoles then signed five-star prospect Jameis Winston and the three-star Sean Maguire as part of the 2012 class and Secord elected to leave the program after he graduated with his Bachelor’s degree this past summer.
Rodney Smith – Wide Receiver – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com four-star:
Few players have been as consistent as Smith over the last several years and the wide receiver enters his final home game with at least one catch in 37 consecutive games a — streak that dates back to his sophomore year. Should he catch a pass against Florida, Smith would tie E.G. Green’s school record of 38 consecutive games with at least one grab. Smith is also just seven catches away from entering the top 20 all-time at FSU for number of receptions.
After catching just one pass as a true freshman in 2009, Smith hauled in 31 as a sophomore, 36 as a junior and has 32 grabs for 464 yards and three touchdowns this year with a trio of games still to play as a Seminole.
Bryan Stork – Tight End – Rivals.com three-star, Scout.com three-star:
Nobody on FSU’s roster has seen their body transform more than Stork, who was viewed by recruiting services as a tight end coming out of Vero Beach High School in 2009. Stork was recruited by Rick Trickett as an offensive lineman and quickly hit the weight room upon arriving in Tallahassee. After redshirting as a true freshman, Stork was primarily a reserve in 2010 and then started 10 games as Rodney Hudson’s replacement last season.
This year, Stork has been the veteran leader on an offensive line that began the season with a former defensive tackle (Cameron Erving) at left tackle, a former college basketball player (Menelik Watson) at right tackle and a duo of sophomores (Tre’ Jackson and Josue Matias) at the two guard spots. His veteran leadership and relationship with Manuel has been a big reason why FSU is so much better up front this season.
Chris Thompson – Running Back – Rivals.com four-star, Scout.com three-star:
Saving the best for last on this list? Hard to argue that Thompson isn’t the most beloved of FSU’s 2009 signees because of the manner in which he carries himself off the field, his ability on the field and his never-say-quit attitude all day, every day. Thompson famously bounced back from a career-threatening back injury he sustained at Wake Forest last year and was in the midst of his finest season yet at FSU — one that was likely to see him become the first player since Warrick Dunn to rush for 1,000 yards in a season — before he tore his ACL in the victory at Miami last month.
Thompson will have to wait to find out if his long-shot odds at receiving a medical redshirt waiver has been approved by the NCAA until early next year so he will take part in Senior Day festivities Saturday.
Whether this is his last home game or not, the former Madison County High School star will always be remembered for being a home-run hitter out of the backfield that played much bigger than his 5-foot-8 frame.