TALLAHASSEE -- Nobody has ever questioned Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher’s ability to recruit.
Since arriving in Tallahassee — first as the offensive coordinator in 2007 before assuming the role of head coach in 2010 — people have known Fisher could bring in plenty of talent.
Now the other shoe has dropped.
After hoisting the national championship trophy on Jan. 6, Fisher has answered the critics who questioned whether he could coach, too — the ones that doubted whether he could win big.
The way he did it is also worth noting. Fisher won a national title after replacing half of his coaching staff and 11 draft picks following the 2012 season.
In the early months of 2013 as Florida State fans were worrying about the loss of assistant coaches, about recruiting areas and the effect losing defensive coordinator Mark Stoops would have, Fisher was busy cobbling together his coaching staff and putting the finishing touches on yet another top-five recruiting class.
The results were obvious this past fall. FSU ran the table, going 14-0 and winning the third national title in school history.
Coincidentally, this year as Fisher looks to put the finishing touches on another top recruiting class (it is ranked fifth by Rivals, third by ESPN), he finds himself in a similar position to last year: replacing a defensive coordinator and looking at losing as many as 10 players to the NFL Draft.
After just one year, Jeremy Pruitt — one of the best recruiters on Fisher’s staff — defected to Georgia this past offseason. The Seminoles have opted to promote linebackers coach Charles Kelly to coordinator rather than make an outside hire, but the impact of Pruitt’s departure will have an obvious affect on the players he was recruiting to FSU.
Still, don’t expect Fisher to sweat Pruitt’s departure. With another strong class of players headed to the NFL, the 2013 BCS Championship in hand and a Heisman trophy winning quarterback recruiting for him, Fisher is more influential than ever with National Signing Day approaching. His program practically sells itself right now. That Fisher is, by consensus, one of the best recruiters in the college game almost seems unfair.
If anything, Florida State is likely to have to turn away players when it’s all said and done. Currently there are 28 players committed to FSU — five of whom have already signed a letter of intent — with a handful of other still considering offers.
Leading the class are a couple of five-star players from South Florida. West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman’s Travis Rudolph, a five-star receiver, committed to FSU at the Under-Armour All-American Game. Miami Central’s Dalvin Cook — ranked the fifth best running back in the nation by Rivals — has already enrolled for the Spring semester.
Five-star receiver Ermon Lane from Homestead, a close friend of Cook’s, could follow suit and sign with Florida State in the coming days as well. Fisher always has had success recruiting out of South Florida, right in rival University of Miami’s backyard.
In addition to Cook and Rudolph, Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris and Miami Northwestern athlete JoJo Robinson (both considered four-star recruits) are also solid commitments.
On defense — where the Seminoles are losing five starters — Florida State looks set to welcome a solid crop of players headlined by 6-2, 285 tackle Demarcus Christmas from Manatee, Kain Daub a 6-3 240 linebacker from Jacksonville Sandalwood (early enrollment) and Tallahassee Godby linebacker Jacob Pugh (6-4, 236).
If things continue to hold for the Seminoles through Feb. 5 , the rich look to get a bit richer.
Currently there are 28 players looking to play their college football under Fisher at FSU — 28 and counting.