TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Coach Jimbo Fisher admitted that he’s like every coach in the country — happy with who he got and pleased with his signing class.
But Fisher also feels that this may be the most complete of his classes since he took over in 2010 as Florida State’s head coach. The 2011 class was considered No. 1 by Scout.com, and the 2014 class isn’t far behind at No. 3.
Florida State received letters of intent from 23 student-athletes on National Signing Day, plus five early enrollees. The Seminoles signed three Scout.com five-star prospects in Lane and a pair of early enrollees — running back Dalvin Cook and linebacker Kain Daub. Florida State also signed 11 Scout.com four-star players.
"We hit needs all the way across the board," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Wednesday afternoon. "Very happy with this class."
The biggest need for the long term was at receiver. Florida State landed a pair of elite receivers in five-star Ermon Lane of Homestead, Fla., four-star Travis Rudolph of West Palm Beach, Fla., and three-star Ja’Von Harrison of Lakeland, Fla.
Florida State missed out on Scout.com’s top receiver, Malachi Dupre of River Ridge, La., who stayed close to home and will attend LSU. But in signing Rudolph and Lane, the Seminoles landed the Sunshine State’s top receivers.
Rudolph caught 63 passes for 1,237 yards and had 15 touchdowns as a senior. Lane had 31 receptions for 605 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior. And Florida State flipped Harrison, a Virginia Tech commitment, in the afternoon.
"That was one of our areas of need," Fisher said. "Those guys are big-time players and they know that we’re going to throw the football."
Defensive end Malik McDowell of Southfield, Mich., decided to stay close to home and chose Michigan State, but the Seminoles received a welcome surprise when defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi of Virginia Beach, Va., passed up Virginia Tech to sign with Florida State. Nnadi is considered the nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle by Scout.com.
Nnadi was one of five defensive linemen to sign with FSU, including Demarcus Christmas of Bradenton, Fla., and Arthur Williams of Fayetteville, N.C.
The Seminoles will start four seniors on the offensive line, and Florida State had a long-term need to fill those gaps (Fisher signed seven in the class). Florida State signed a pair of junior-college stars in early enrollee Kareem Are and Chad Mavety. Four-star tackle Roderick Johnson of Florissant, Mo., had been undecided but chose Florida State on Wednesday.
"The guys who put their hand in the dirt on the offense and defensive lines that controls the game," Fisher said. "You can have all the skills in the world you want. We saw that in the Super Bowl. You got to win those battles up front."
The Seminoles also loaded up at linebacker, signing Jacob Pugh, Delvin Purifoy and Daub, the early enrollee.
Pugh, a Scout.com four-star prospect from Tallahassee Godby, said he grew up a Florida fan and watched the Gators’ national championship teams in 2006 and 2008.
But he verbally committed to Florida State early in the recruiting process. He said he bonded with coach Jimbo Fisher and the assistants on defense and also wanted to stay close to family.
"I talked to the coaches all the time," Pugh said. "I go up there frequently. It’s just family-oriented. I love the coaches. It’s a win-win situation."
The first player to sign with Florida State was Scout.com four-star quarterback J.J. Cosentino of Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic at 7:08 a.m. Cosentino attends the same high school as former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.
Cook, Daub, Are, defensive back Trey Marshall and long snapper Stephen Gabbard enrolled in January and are already taking classes at Florida State.
"It’s a great school, they treat you right," Cook said. "They make the adjustment so easy."
Most significant signing: Oddly enough, it’s a guy that’s already been on campus. Dalvin Cook, the state’s Mr. Football in 2013, won’t start but should see significant playing time as a freshman. Cook will be able to grasp the offense this spring as an early enrollee and could get carries this fall.
Biggest surprise: Derrick Nnadi is from Virginia Beach and was a Virginia Tech commitment. The defensive tackle was reportedly leaning toward Florida State and in the end made it official on Wednesday. At 6-foot-2, 295 pounds, Nnadi is a strong lineman who should fit in well with the Seminoles’ rotation.
The one that got away: Malachi Dupre. The Louisiana prep star would have given Florida State three elite receivers. But Fisher won’t complain about landing Lane and Rudolph.