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February 6, 2013
Five-star defensive duo Thomas, Ramsey headline FSU class
With a host of turnover on his coaching staff in recent weeks, Jimbo Fisher said he was on the road recruiting so much, he felt like an assistant coach again.
All told, it looks like the extra workload paid off.
Despite losing six assistant coaches in the past five weeks - and with a position yet to be filled - Fisher and the Seminoles held their ground, landing the No. 10 overall recruiting class according to Rivals.com as of Wednesday night.
"It actually felt good," Fisher said with a laugh. "It was good (to know) you could actually get it done again."
Florida State's class of 22 signees - including two early enrollees - is headlined by five-star defenders Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Matthew Thomas. Warchant.com reported Tuesday that Ramsey, the nation's No. 3 cornerback, had flipped his commitment from USC. Ramsey followed through by inking with the Seminoles on Wednesday morning.
Fisher said that new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was crucial in landing Ramsey, who wasn't considering Florida State until January. Fisher also said that his personal relationship with Thomas helped the Seminoles overcome the loss of Miami-area recruiting ace James Coley, who left to take the offensive coordinator job at Miami two weeks ago.
"I think our new staff did a tremendous job of going out very quickly and building relationships with the new recruits and establishing who they are as coaches and what they are as men and our guys bought into it very well," said Fisher, who signed top 10 classes in each of the past three seasons entering Wednesday. "I'm very proud of their effort and once again I think it was a great day, I thought we met a lot of needs in what we did and very proud of our class and like I said we got a little bit of every position. Throughout the whole class and we met a lot of needs."
Thomas, considered FSU's top defensive target the past two years, picked FSU over Miami on Wednesday morning.
"He's one of those guys, he can change the game," Fisher said of Thomas, the nation's second-ranked outside linebacker." Tall, explosive, athletic. He's outside he can rush, he can cover ... whoever's team he is on usually wins."
Overall, Fisher conceded that Florida State may have lost ground with players because of the coaching turnover, but because of the efforts of the new staff it "may have been a wash."
FSU lost out on a couple of heralded recruits including Rivals 100offensive tackle Denver Kirkland (Arkansas) and Rivals250 receiver Stacy Coley (Miami), but come Wednesday afternoon FSU managed to land four-star defensive tackle Keith Bryant, the Seminoles' final uncommitted target who picked Florida State over Miami and others.
While Florida State landed five total Rivals100 prospects in the 2013 class - including early enrollee Demarcus Walker - it came up short of expectations at offensive line, especially at tackle. The Seminoles couldn't reel in Kirkland or former FSU commitment Austin Golson (Ole Miss) early in the day before nabbing three-star tackle Wilson Bell. While FSU expected to sign five or six linemen in the class, it ended with just three - Bell, Ryan Hoefeld and Rivals100 member Ira Denson.
Fisher conceded that the class could have used more big bodies but said that despite not seeing Bell's game tape until January, leading to a late scholarship offer, he would have been "a Day 1 offer from the get-go."
"You always want more big guys, there are never enough big guys," Fisher said.
FSU's biggest coup at one position was at linebacker as it pulled in Thomas, Freddie Stevenson as an early enrollee along with four-star E.J. Levenberry and three-star prospects Tyrell Lyons and Ro'Derrick Hoskins.
The Seminoles also held onto all of the players that committed to them entering Wednesday, which didn't save the road weary Fisher from any last-minute anxiety.
"I sweat until I get that final fax, even when they commit on TV until you get that final fax, that's what matters," Fisher said.