“The Bridge is Over” Florida State is new King of the Sunshine StateFebruary 22, 2010


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Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Carlos Dunlap and a hundred others have taken Florida from equality in the Florida football landscape to Silver-back Gorilla as of late. Florida has won 2 championships in the last 4 years, firmly establishing the Gainesville school as the premier football power in the state. However, there will be a changing of the guard in the Sunshine State and it begins and ends with Florida State. Defense wins championships and the pedigree being established in Tallahassee the last 6 months is based on this and only this. Florida State has begun what I believe based on recruiting and coaching changes will lead to the upstaging of the mighty Gators.

Some may ask why is this article being written? I’ll tell you why, Recruiting, Coaching, Momentum, Instability at Florida, it is just time for a change. Every great power that has risen in college football will eventually fall. Moreover, underling programs in-state seemingly always make a push to compete with the big boys in state. Look at what Auburn has done in Alabama in the last year. Look at what Oregon State has done in the last two years in the state of Oregon. Moving back to FSU the best move they made was naming Jimbo Fischer the head coach-in-waiting. There was no transition period, no coaching search, and the move proved ingenious when looking at this years signing class. Furthermore, Mickey Andrews built a tradition at FSU based on defense two Jim Thorpe Award winners (Deion Sanders in 1988 and Terrell Buckley in 1991), two Butkus Award winners (Paul McGowen in 1987 and Marvin Jones in 1992) and two Lombardi Award winners (Marvin Jones in 1992 and Jamal Reynolds in 2000). In all, he produced 18 NFL 1st rounder’s and 56 All-Americans that is an absurd stastic. Defense has always been the name of the game at FSU and hiring Mark Stoops, as Defensive Coordinator was a coup for Seminoles. Stoops played a part in some nasty defenses at Miami in the early part of the last decade and has been at Arizona helping his brother Mike lead a resurgance for the Wildcats. The Stoops family name resides soundly on the defensive side of things in college football.

The recent changes at FSU lead you to believe that the Noles are headed for greatness in short order. Jimbo is already a proven commodity on offense; just look at what he did at LSU. Furthermore, when you combine his offensive prowess with what Stoops will provide defensively it is easy to see why FSU will surpass UF. Florida State signed what I believe is the best defensive class in the country, yes Florida and Texas did awesome as well but the headliners in this group are the best in my opinion.

Lamarcus Joyner
(DB, 5-8, 166, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas): Blazing speed. He and Greg Reid become focal points of a secondary that needs some repairs.

Christian Jones (LB, 6-4, 220, Winter Park Lake Howell): A physical specimen with tremendous size and speed will be a great pass-rusher.

Jeff Luc (LB, 6-1, 230, Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast): Could step in right away in the middle; ideal size and a nose for the ball.

Darious Cummings (DE, 6-2, 245, Titusville Astronaut): Good run-stuffer who could bulk up to 270 with ease.

These four players were among the best in the country at key positions FSU needed to fill immediately. Looking to next year alone, Joyner and Greg Reid will combine to be one of the young corner
combos with only Alabama having comparable talent so young at this position with DeMarcus Milliner and Dre Kilpatrick. There are two sleepers in this class are Bjoern Werner and Greg Dent Jr. Werner is an exchange student from Germany. Werner will need time to refine his skills because he didn’t grow up around the game, but he has plenty of raw talent and any incoming freshman that is 6’4” 270 and athletic enough to play end should impress. Look for Werner to bulk up and be a nasty inside presence for the Noles in the future. Greg Dent Jr. I believe is not only a sleeper in this class but also the country, this kid flew under the radar and I think it was a huge mistake for Miami to pigeonhole this kid as a safety, which is why they lost their commitment because FSU saw his potential on offense. I saw this kid in person and he is as athletic and fluid of a WR as they come and is really aggressive fighting for the ball. Dent led a ridiculously talented receiving corps at Glades Central High (see Kelvin Benjamin and Clive Walford.) This kid will be a superstar on the next level and you can thank me for telling you first.

Looking at the bigger picture take a look at the breakdown on FSU’s class this year the Noles were heavy on the defensive side: Linebacker 5, Defensive back 4, Defensive tackle 4, Wide receiver 3, Athlete 2, Tight end 2, Defensive end 1, Offensive line 1, Running back 1, Quarterback 1. The emerging trend is that FSU is gearing up for a run that will be very similar to the old days, STINGING DEFENSE and SOLID and EFFICIENT OFFENSE. Speaking of offense the noles have a legitimate Heisman trophy candidate in Christian Ponder and the offensive unit started just one senior in the regular season finale versus the Florida. The offensive roster is jam packed with players that fit into Fisher’s play-calling style. Florida State possesses a near-perfect quarterback situation, fifth-year starter Christian Ponder and sophomore E.J. Manuel gives the Noles an excellent second option. Florida at the moment is King but given the fast rise of momentum in Tallahassee the last 6 months look for a momentous change in the next two years. Call me crazy if you want just don’t call me in 2-3 years to tell me how did I see FSU coming.

Thanks,

Claude Clayborne

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