2012 Recruiting Class Pushed Seminoles to Elite Level
Before we get into the breakdown there are a few factoids of the FSU recruiting class of 2012.
* It was small: With just 19 players it was the highest ranked class in the nation under 20 prospects. Only USC (15 signees due to sanctions) and Georgia (19 signees) were ranked around the top 10-12. Such a small class forced the FSU staff to be very selective and stay true to their talent evaluations due to the low margin of error.
* It could have been better: Up until national signing day defensive end Dante Fowler was part of FSU’s class. While he’s signing day flip to Florida wasn’t a shock to most it seemed like a bit of a surprise to the FSU staff. The staff made a late charge at another in-state defensive lineman, Leonard Williams, but Williams decided to attend USC. Imagine what Fowler or Williams would add to an already dominating FSU defense?
* This class is defense heavy: Outside of Jameis Winston, Menelik Watson and Roberto Aguayo there were no other major contributors on offense. Nearly all the major and minor contributors are on defense.
* Of the 19 signees, the class featured the top-rated defensive end (Mario Edwards), defensive tackle (Eddie Goldman) and quarterback (Winston).
* ESPN and 247 Sports loved the class. ESPN ranked it the second best in the nation (behind Alabama) and 247 ranked it third (behind Alabama and Texas). Scout (11th) and Rivals (7th) weren’t as impressed and probably penalized FSU slightly for the small number of signees.
Now for the breakdown.
OUT OF THE PROGRAM
Marvin Bracy, WR, 4-star: Decided to give up football to focus on 2016 Olympics as a sprinter.
Christo Kourtzidis, TE, 4-star: California prospect left the program and is expected to transfer to a West coast school.
Dalvon Stuckey, DT, 3-star: Never qualified, went to juco in Mississippi and will be part of Miami’s 2014 recruiting class.
ONE & DONE
Menelik Watson, OT, 3-star: Watson, a juco prospect from England that actually spent two years playing basketball for Marist, started the 2012 season at left tackle for the Seminoles and declared for the NFL Draft where he was chosen in the second round by Oakland.
Daniel Glauser, OT, 3-star: Another European-born juco prospect that was a backup tackle in 2012 and was declared ineligible for the 2013 season due after the NCAA discovered he played two games for a Switzerland rec league. He is currently suing the NCAA for his eligibility.
Mario Pender, RB, 4-star: Widely considered to be the star of the spring, Pender failed to qualify for the fall and is sitting the year out with the hopes of returning to the program in 2014.
Colin Blake, DB, 4-star: Texas prospect has played in eight games, mostly on special teams.
Chris Casher, DE, 4-star: Key backup at defensive end has 22 tackles, two sacks and a defensive touchdown in nine games.
Ukeme Eligwe, LB, 4-star: Top backup at linebacker has 22 tackles and two sacks in nine games.
Sean Maguire, QB, 3-star: Maguire is third string behind Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston. He has appeared in six games and thrown a touchdown pass.
Reggie Northrup, LB, 4-star: Key backup at lineback has 38 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss in ten games.
Justin Shanks, DT, 4-star: The Prattville (Ala.) prospect has dealt with some weight issues early but has appeared in five games, mostly on special teams.
Roberto Aguayo, K, 3-star: Redshirt freshman is 14-of-15 on field goals with a long of 53 and 69-69 on extra points through 10 games. It looks like he will follow Sebastian Janikowski and Graham Gano as the ‘Noles next great kicker.
Cason Beatty, K, 2-star: Charlotte (N.C.) prospect has a 40.5 average and nine of his 29 punts have landed inside the 20. He doesn’t get many opportunities with this Seminoles offense.
Ronald Darby, DB, 4-star: One of two Seminole starters hailing from the Beltway area. Darby was a Freshman All-American and the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012. He has two interceptions and a fumble recovery as a part-time starter in 2013.
Mario Edwards, DE, 5-star: ESPN’s top prospect of the 2012 class started slow and was projected to redshirt but started the final two games in 2012 and has seven starts this season. His fumble recovery return for a touchdown against Clemson showed what Edwards can bring to the table athletically.
Eddie Goldman, DT, 5-star: The other five-star lineman in this class has started nine games in 2013 and proved to be a valuable cog in helping the Seminole defense become one of the top run-stopping units in the nation.
P.J. Williams, DB, 4-star: Although not as highly-regarded as Darby, Williams has been just as instrumental to FSU’s success with his ability to play safety or corner. He has started seven games this season and is tied for the team lead in interceptions (2), break ups (4) and passes defended (6).
Jameis Winston, QB, 5-star: Winston redshirted in 2012 and shadowed everything former Seminole starter E.J. Manuel did. He came into the 2013 with a lot of hype and has lived up to it. Through ten games Winston has 2,938 passing yards and 28 touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes. He’s also rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns. He is a likely finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
If you break down the numbers the efficiency rate with this class looks even better. Five players haven’t seen a significant snap which basically means FSU has 14 scholarship players from the class. One of those players (Watson) is already in the NFL. Seven of the other 13 are part-time starters at worst and of the six backups, three (Northup, Eligwe and Casher) are projected to start or be major contributors in 2014 and could easily start this year at 95% of the nation’s other programs right now.
So 10 players currently on FSU’s roster that are either redshirt freshman or true sophomores are players that would qualify as starters depending on circumstance. Add in Watson’s tremendous 2012 season and that’s an 11-of-14 efficiency rate, an amazing 79 percent (actually 78.6). If you want to be hard and use the full class of 19 the efficiency rate jumps down to 58 percent, which is still decent for a small class given that the contributions are at key areas (quarterbacks, defensive line, defensive backs).
(SIDENOTE: If Glauser or Pender return, which is doubtful, the rate could be a little higher. Glauser probably projects as a backup but Pender was being counted on a major contributor in the offensive backfield before academics forced him out of the program.)
And to think that guys like Goldman, Darby and P.J. Williams are playing ahead of quality, veteran performers like Jacobbi McDaniel, Demonte McAllister, Nile Lawrence-Stample, Nick Waisome and Gerald Demps.
So with the major upgrade at quarterback and significant upgrades along the defensive line and secondary, it’s safe to say that FSU’s surge from a top 10-15 team to a legitimate BCS championship contender can be credited to the riches that the 2012 recruiting class brought to Tallahassee.