Editor's Note: The Osceola Staff would like to introduce Jared Thorne, a Florida State recruiting buff who will be a regular contributor to our on-line site. If you have a recruiting question/concern/thought, please check out our new recruiting message board. We are pleased to have Jared on our team. Look for more recruiting updates during the football season -- and beyond.
When making a trip to the grocery store, there are certain things you need and there are other items that you crave. The same logic can be applied to recruiting, and what do the 'Noles need on their trip to the supermarket known as National Signing Day? What do they already have in the fridge? What players are at the top of their list and what other players and positions are prime targets of Bobby Bowden and the FSU coaching staff?
Well, when making the trip to the store, you must know what you already have. Thus far commitments have already been received from DE Kamberion Wimbley, WR Lorne Sam (P.K.'s brother), and junior college WR Chauncey Stovall. There was a fourth, LB Rona Hawkins from Tallahassee Lincoln, but his scholarship offer was recently revoked after he was dismissed from his high school squad.
Is it a full budget? No, but it's close.
Depending on attrition at the end of the season, FSU should sign between 20 and 23 players. So, with only three in tow, the road to the 2002 FSU recruiting class promises to be long and winding, with many twists and turns that only 18-year-olds can provide.
Going into February, what does FSU need most? With the massive injuries at the wide receiver position in preseason practices, the pass catchers top the list. Sam and Stovall will help the cause, as Stovall, extremely interested in FSU as a high school senior two years ago, can provide immediate help from the JUCO ranks. Sam is furnished much along the same lines as P.K., but may need more refinement at the position; he currently spends most of his time throwing passes instead of catching them. But look for FSU to add at least two more receivers and possible a third to give their young quarterbacks targets to throw at for the next 3-4 seasons.
But the WR's is not the only top priority. The 'Noles, young in most areas, can use added talent along the defensive front seven to complement the myriad of youngsters in the defensive backfield, where just last year Bowden and the crew snagged Robinson, Ross, and Carter, among others. Wimbley, a 6-4 defensive end from America's heartland in Wichita, Kansas, is a gem, currently one of the Rivals.com Top 100 prospects (#64 overall) and already fully qualified. He fits the bill as an edge pass rusher to add to the FSU DE legacy. But he alone is not enough. Added depth along the linebacker corps, and players to fit into Mickey Andrew rotation in the front four, are also something that FSU must keep in mind with the 2002 signing class.
While not as pressing as other needs, the 'Noles will also need to add a tight end to the mix, as FSU is low on numbers at the position. Fullback also falls into this category, although if freshman Eric Shelton remains at fullback, his presence may be enough to alleviate concerns about both the depth and quality of the position. But if Shelton remains at fullback, then FSU will be forced to sign a tailback, although it is likely that they will sign at least one regardless.
Just like when you go to the store, you know you have plenty at home of certain things, but you may pick another up anyway just in case, or just force of habit. Certain positions are the same way for FSU this recruiting season. Quarterback is one such spot, where FSU doesn't necessarily need to sign one just to add one, but depending on who falls into their lap, they may snatch a QB and smile on Signing Day. And while FSU will likely sign a couple of offensive linemen just to add depth, after the monster class of 2001, it is not a pressing need. On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback is another spot where FSU has done extremely well in recent years, but it hasn't stopped FSU from shopping for the cream of the crop.
FSU is also recruiting a number of skilled athletes who currently don't have a "defined" position, and whom Jeff Bowden and Andrews will fight over later on if they are lucky enough to garner commitments. These are the types of guys that FSU and all college programs love to get, since their versatility and athletic ability allows them to make plays from all over the field and in a number of different ways.
These all-over-the-field playmakers are types of recruits which the Noles have generally signed more than any other program over the past 15 years. This year the battle will be no different as Bowden will enter the living room trying to get the signature of the next 'Nole star that can turn the tides of games. As we enter Miami weekend, who are some of these athletes that FSU is in great shape for?
*WR DiShon Platt, (6'0" 170 4.3, Rivals #17) A speedy game-breaking wide receiver, for whom FSU is considered the leader and whose grades have seen an improvement thus far.
*ATH Leon Washington (5'10" 170 4.3 Rivals #8) A possible WR, RB, or CB for whom Noles will likely battle the Gators in their stronghold of Jacksonville. However, Florida State did sign both DB Gerard Ross and OT Ron Lunford from the area last recruiting season as LB coach Joe Kines displayed some of his recruiting ability.
*ATH Chris Davis (6" 170 4.4 Rivals #3) The St. Petersburg native plays QB but is more likely to burn cornerbacks instead of reading them on the college gridiron. A tough battle lies ahead, but the 'Noles are well positioned. Trouble could come if Davis wishes to remain a passer.
*CB Devin Hester (5'11" 180 4.4 Rivals #26) Bloodlines (uncle is former 'Nole Jesse Hester), speed, and athletic ability make him the perfect complement to the natural coverage skills of Bryant McFadden and Robinson. FSU is considered the favorite.
*LB Ahmad Brooks (6'3" 225 4.6 Rivals #25) FSU faces a tough hill to climb for the Woodbridge, VA, native, but the road is worth the trouble with the size and skills of perhaps the best LB in the nation. The Cavaliers may hold the edge right now, but FSU is ready to pounce on this big cat.
*RB Lorenzo Booker (5'11" 180 4.4 Rivals #2) Scat-back size, yes, but all-world talent and the consensus top running back for 2002. The Ventura, CA, native may be tough to pry away from USC and UCLA, but the 'Noles did it once recently with Travis Johnson and are positioning themselves to do it again with Booker. But if not Booker...
*RB Michael Johnson (5'10" 180 4.3 Rivals #12) No, not the Olympic sprinter, but he does have some wheels. Same hometown (Newport News, VA) as 'Nole target Marcus Vick (yes, brother of Michael) but like Booker possesses more speed and moves than he knows what to do with. The 'Noles have just a good of shot as any, and will battle three annual opponents for Johnson: Gators, 'Canes, and the nearby Cavs.
This is just a sampling of names and while it represents a portion of the prospects that FSU is tailing, it is just the beginning. If you are a stranger to recruiting, be aware that it is just October, and that names will change at a dizzying rate, both as the coaching staffs and players change directions. Get your grocery list ready, but be sure to keep a pencil handy with an eraser -- you'll need it.