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Other than Charlie Graham, who has yet to be given a rating by Rivlas.com, Graham Gano is the lowest ranked prospect on Florida State's commitment list, and probably the lowest on FSU's entire recruiting board. Don't tell that to USA Today. The national publication published its annual high school All-American list on Wednesday and the Cantonment (Fla.) place-kicker earned first team honors.
"I was real excited," Gano told Warchant.com. "When I found out I was ecstatic. I came out of the barbershop and that's when my brother sent me a text message. I just started going crazy."
The strong-legged kicker joins a pretty exclusive group of Florida recruits. Besides Gano, Fred Rouse, Kenny Phillips, and Demetrice Morley are the only other Sunshine State natives to be named to the first team.
"That's a pretty elite group," he said. "I know Fred Rouse and he's a really good player."
Gano has also been nominated as a possible Parade All-American.
Players on USA Today's second team that are considering FSU include LB Geno Hayes, OL Matt Hardrick, DB Bryan Evans and LB Derek Nicholson.
Back in September, the Tate High School kicker nailed a 65-yard field goal against Ft. Walton Beach, which is believed to be the longest in Florida high school history. He followed that up a few weeks later by booting a 64-yard kick against New Orleans Cohen High School. If you still aren't a believer in his leg strength, Gano also booted a 67-yarder that was negated by a penalty, and he had a 57-yard game-winner with 1:30 left in a game last year.
On kickoffs, Gano put 36 of 38 into the endzone including four that went through the uprights.
Even though his 9-for-18 average on field goal attempts may seem average, it is pretty good when you consider he had four blocked. Also, his four misses were from fairly long distances (46, 56, 67, 68 yards).
With his recent national accolades and gaudy kicking numbers Gano would like to see his Rivals.com rating increase but says he won't lose any sleep if he remains a two-star recruit.
"I don't think the stars matter too much," he said. "You just show it on the field. If they want to bump that up a little I'll have no problem with that. When they get some film in maybe they will look at that"
Despite his impressive numbers on field goals and kickoffs, Gano is being primarily recruited to punt at Florida State. He averaged approximately 43 yards a punt during his season despite having a few blocked.
There have been some recent rumors that the All-American kicker is being pursued by other schools but it doesn't sound like he will change his mind on his commmitment.
"I'm not looking anywhere else," Gano said. "I'm pretty solid."
Look for a scouting video on Gano on Warchant.com next week.