December 9, 2009

Ask Jamie: Florida State back on track?

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Dec 2: Is Big Ten falling behind?
Nov 25: Leader emerging for Green?
Nov 18: What will Elam do?

How did Florida State and Jimbo Fisher land linebacker Jeff Luc? It seems the Seminoles are rolling once again in recruiting. What's left on their recruiting board?

Who is Alton Taylor and what's his recruiting status?

Will wide receiver Adrian Coxson end up at Penn State?

These questions and more are addressed in this week's mailbag.

Jamie's Mailbag
New direction

What happened with Jeff Luc? How did he end up at Florida State after all the turmoil there?

-- Trey from Valdosta, Ga.
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No doubt one of the story lines this season is Florida State and the roller-coaster recruiting season it has had. First, the Seminoles were lining themselves up for a stellar class, the kind of recruiting class we were accustomed to seeing from Bobby Bowden and his staff during the 1990s.

Then the wheels fell off this fall. FSU lost games, played very poorly - especially on defense - and a majority of Seminoles fans wanted Bowden out as coach.

Things were not pretty in Tallahassee, and recruiting took a hit. Florida State lost a few prospects and lost traction on some kids.

At the time, it was thought that Luc fell into the "lost traction" category. He talked highly of Florida, then Tennessee. But who really knew what Luc was thinking? He wasn't the type of recruit who said much to the media. People had to speculate on what he may do.

Meanwhile, Florida State stayed the course with Luc. Much of the credit needs to go to Seminoles assistant James Coley. He established a relationship with not only Luc but also his Treasure Coast teammates, the staff and family. Even during the tough times this fall, Coley never let Luc forget about FSU. Coley was a constant with him.

On the flip side, Luc didn't want to have any regrets about not picking Florida State. He has always been a Seminoles fan and feels confident in Fisher and the direction of the program. He also felt like Coley and the FSU coaches were honest with him.

Luc hasn't been the only commitment for Florida State since Bowden announced he wasn't coming back. Junior college cornerback Mike Harris is a big-time get for Fisher and his staff. Then, if you look ahead to next season, the Seminoles have four commitments for their Class of 2011 - two are Luc's teammates at Treasure Coast in defensive backs Lamarcus Brutus and Keelin Smith. Running back Eric Beverly and offensive lineman Trey Pettis are also headed to Tallahassee.

So what should we expect from Fisher and his Seminoles over the next 56 days? Their recruiting board looks good with some big-time prospects. FSU would love to sign another running back from the group of Marcus Lattimore, Rajion Neal and Roy Finch, but pulling one from that trio could prove tough. Things are looking good at receiver with Kenny Shaw, and don't be surprised if the Seminoles close with Christian Green. Vincent Sanders is also in the picture here. FSU would love to land Brandon Mosley or Will Tye at tight end.

On the other side of the ball, Florida State is still hot after Corey Lemonier and Wayne Dorsey on the defensive line. It's rumored Florida State and Fisher may switch to a 3-4 defense. That should help with outside linebacker Christian Jones. The Seminoles are also in the mix with linebacker Shaydon Akuna. Terrence Mitchell, Jeremy Deering, Lamarcus Joyner and Matt Elam are all defensive back targets.

Fisher would love to announce his defensive coordinator soon, maybe even as early as next week. The sooner the better when it comes to recruiting. Once that is done, the rest of the assistant coaching vacancies will be filled. I would also imagine that new coaches at FSU mean new names could emerge on the board.

Sure there are a lot of things to watch over the next eight weeks leading up to National Signing Day. And one of the more intriguing schools to watch as we finish up another recruiting season is Florida State. It should be very interesting in Tallahassee, and it looks like Fisher and the Seminoles have a lot of recruiting momentum going their way once again.

What's missing?

Why do you think running back Alton Taylor from Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla., has very little, if any, D-I offers?

-- Tony from Bradenton, Fla.
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I wish I had some good news for you, Tony. At this time Taylor has no offers after rushing for 1,975 yards (on 305 carries) and scoring 31 touchdowns.

During the Cougars' recent playoff stretch, he played very well against some big-time defenses. He rushed for 239 yards against Freedom, 219 against Tampa Bay Tech and 179 against Plant.

So what's the issue here? It's his lack of top-end speed that is keeping the big boys away. Taylor is 5 feet 9 and 180 pounds, and he runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.6 range.

But this kid can tote the rock. He runs with excellent balance and vision. Taylor hits the hole hard and reads his blocks well. He is a great zone runner who makes great cuts in the hole. Taylor is also the type of back who gets better as the game goes on and the more he gets the ball. But the best part of Taylor is that he's a better kid than a player. He has the grades (3.0 GPA, 860 SAT) as well.

So who's showing interest in Taylor? Right now it's Charleston Southern. Florida International was scheduled to come by the school earlier this week.

Maybe Taylor is not a big-time prospect, but I have seen enough running backs in my day to know this kid can play at the next level. Some school will step up to the plate and offer him before it's all said and done, and that someone will get a steal from Countryside High School.

Penn State bound?

With all the talk about Adrian Coxson still looking around, will he still end up at Penn State?

-- Clair from Huntingdon, Pa.
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Coxson, a four-star receiver from Baltimore, originally committed to Penn State at the end of April.

At this time, I think Penn State is the team to beat. I think he likes Florida, and we'll see what he thinks of Georgia when he visits Athens this weekend for an official visit. West Virginia could get an official visit from him sometime in January. But at this point, I still think he sticks with the Nittany Lions.

Finding talent

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of high school students who play football every year. How are you guys able to rate and scout them?

-- Asad from Kissimmee, Fla.
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Actually, there are roughly one million high school football players from coast to coast. Of that number, there are around 2,500 who sign Division I scholarships. It's those prospects who we are evaluating, along with any underclassmen.

There are several ways we evaluate players: film, camps, combines, 7-on-7 tournaments and, of course, scouting games.

Jamie Newberg is a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to send him a question or comment for his mailbag.




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