Down six coaches since the end of the season, including stellar recruiter and offensive coordinator James Coley (a defector to Miami, no less), the Florida State fan base had plenty to sweat about as the recruiting season came to a close.
But in the end, as the Seminoles have done since former coach Bobby Bowden sealed his reputation as a closer, Jimbo Fishers FSU signing class was ranked by analysts among the top 10 on Wednesday, National Signing Day.
The Florida Gators, muscle-bound from the start, wrapped up what is widely regarded as a top-3 class.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes, who split with the Seminoles for the top two players in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, bolstered their roster with a 16-player class small in quantity but substantial in quality.
It was a class were proud of, UM coach Al Golden said. It was a class we really had to fight hard for. Im proud of our coaches for not making any excuses, hanging in there and bringing in a class that is not only excellent, but a great complement to the class that played so well and so often for us a year ago.
Relatively nearby at Florida International, the Panthers struggled after basking last year in what was considered its finest class in school history. They lost several commitments when former head coach Mario Cristobal now the tight ends coach at Miami was fired.
The speed building of a recruiting class after the January hiring of Ron Turner resulted in FIU signing 18 players Wednesday, 17 of whom are from Florida and 10 from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. The only exception in this group, evenly divided between offense and defense, was Oceanside (Cal.) quarterback Israel Paopao.
Turner said future recruiting classes would have a similar geographic makeup. Maybe not 17 out of 18, but itll be a high percentage of players from Florida, especially South Florida, he said.
Nationally, 2012 national champion Alabama picked up where it left off, grabbing the No. 1 ranking by Rivals.com, 247sports.com and ESPN.
As for the Canes, they picked up three of the seven top-notch recruits they were hoping to land Wednesday. The would-be Hurricanes who got away are Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas (FSU), The Miami Heralds top-rated player from Miami-Dade County; Booker T. Washington offensive tackle Denver Kirkland (Arkansas), The Heralds No. 4 player from Miami-Dade; four-star Port St. Lucie defensive tackle Jaynard Bostwick (Florida); and four-star defensive tackle Keith Bryant (FSU) of Delray Beach Atlantic High.
According to numerous recruiting sites, Miamis four-star prizes, not in any particular order: defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, from Ramsey, N.J.; receiver Stacy Coley, from Oakland Park Northeast High; quarterback Kevin Olsen, from Wayne, N.J.; cornerback Artie Burns, from Miami Northwestern; tight end Beau Sandland, a junior college transfer from Woodland Hills, Calif.; and Miramar High linebacker Jermaine Grace.
Only four players in UMs class are from South Florida, and five from the state.
And though five-star South Plantation tailback Alex Collins chose Arkansas over Miami on Monday night, he didnt actually have his letter of intent signed Wednesday because his mother disagreed with his decision. The Canes still nabbed fullback Augustus Edwards of Staten Island, N.Y., a 6-2, 221-pound, three-star prospect according to ESPN.