Recruiting Reaction: Cook Spurns Gators for ‘Noles

On the day of Florida State’s arrival in Pasadena, California to begin final preparations for next Monday’s BCS Championship Game the program received two pieces of good news. First head coach Jimbo Fisher signed a new contract extension and all but eliminated his name from the Texas job and later in the evening the state’s top uncommitted prospect, Miami Central running back Dalvin Cook, flipped his commitment from Florida to FSU.

Cook, widely considered one of the top 50 prospects nationally, rushed for nearly 2,000 yards this season. He capped off his high school career with a 200-yard performance in the Class 6A state championship game against Armwood. Miami Central won 52-7.

So what should we make of Cook’s decision?

Not a Well Kept Secret: With all the information coming out on recruiting in a daily (hourly?) manner it’s very difficult to keep anything a secret. Fact is FSU had been closing in on Cook for a few months now and an aggressive pitch led by FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher and assistant coaches Jay Graham and Tim Brewster was pulling the Under Armour All-American athlete away from his early commitment to Florida.

Last week FSU running back Devonta Freeman tweeted out an Instagram picture congratulated “future Noles” Cook and Miami Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris, who committed to the Seminoles several months ago.

What’s It Mean for FSU?: The rich get richer. The Seminoles had arguably the most talented group of skill players in the nation this year and will continue to recruit talented prospects into the program to make sure it stays that way.

Cook gives FSU a legitimate home-run hitter in the backfield. Combining his ability with the power-speed effort of Karlos Williams and the all-around backfield talents of Ryan Green will give the Seminoles a ton of versatility at the running back position. Jimbo Fisher has proven that he can use several running backs on the team and keep them happy without burning them out.

Is this the beginning of a major surge for FSU? Various reports say that two other Florida commits, Homestead wide receiver Ermon Lane and Immokalee athlete J.C. Jackson, would be interested in following Cook to Tallahassee. Such a move is possible (anything seems possible in recruiting these days) but FSU already has 27 commitments in their 2014 recruiting class and spots are very coveted.

Cook, however, says he’s going to target Lane to join him. “Ermon and I are close friends and I think we should play together in college,” Cook said during his announcement. “I’m going to be going after him real hard.”

No wonder Jimbo Fisher isn’t interested in Texas.

How big is the Loss for Florida?: This is going to be a tough one for head coach Will Muschamp to take, especially after the hiring of new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. The Gators offensive recruiting class was centered on the talents of Cook and Lane and while Lane is still officially a commitment to the Gators their chances of keeping things that way appear slim.

Right now the best thing for Muschamp and his staff to do is regroup and remember where they are. They are still representing the University of Florida, a program that won a national title just five seasons ago.  One player can’t make or break a class. The program is going through a transition on offense. The conservative, run-based scheme that Muschamp prefers is being widely rejected by top offensive prospects in the nation’s richest state for football talent.

With a little more than a month left before national signing day, the Gators staff will continue to target new prospects and sell them on the idea of getting early playing time in a new offensive system. They will work overtime to keep Lane committed (or at least keep him out of Tallahassee or any SEC program) and will try to replace Cook with at least one running back, possibly two.