Why did Florida State win the 2013 national title? Look no farther than the last three signing classes.
Coach Jimbo Fisher landed the Scout.com No. 1 signing class in 2011, bringing defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, tailback James Wilder Jr. and safety (turned tailback) Karlos Williams to Tallahassee. The next year, Florida State added prep stars like quarterback Jameis Winston, defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and cornerback Ronald Darby.
Of the 26 five-stars that signed with Florida State in the last 10 years, 16 made significant contributions. And nine of the 11 five-stars from the 2011 and ’12 classes made an impact during the Seminoles’ national championship in 2013. Here’s a look at the Seminoles’ five-star prospects since 2004:
DB Jalen Ramsey: The Tennessee native made an impact from the first game, starting the season opener at Pittsburgh at corner (where he grabbed an interception) before eventually moving to safety. He started all 14 games and had 49 tackles and a sack.
LB Matthew Thomas: After signing with Florida State in February, the Miami native wavered on the commitment and tried to back out and attend Southern Cal. But Thomas talked to Florida State’s coaches, stayed in school and had four tackles early in the season as a reserve before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
QB Jameis Winston: The nation’s top dual-threat quarterback, Winston impressed in the spring game with a pair of touchdown passes and then won the starting job for good in August. The Alabama native threw for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman.
DT Eddie Goldman: Considered the top interior defensive lineman in the class, the Washington, D.C., native chose Florida State on National Signing Day. He had just 19 tackles in 2013, but Goldman is a physical presence inside, using his strong hands to keep offensive linemen from getting a good grip on him.
CB Ronald Darby: The nation’s top corner in the class of 2012, Darby hasn’t put up impressive numbers but few quarterbacks are challenging him. Darby, who has 36 tackles and two INTs the last two years, has quickly made a name for himself as one of the ACC’s top corners.
DE Mario Edwards: Scout.com’s top defensive prospect in the class, Edwards had 28 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss in 2013. He stepped into the starting lineup for the final games of 2012, and Edwards has been an effective run-stopper since.
DE Chris Casher: After taking a redshirt in 2012, Casher showed a glimpse of his talents last season. Casher had 25 tackles, including 10 in a win over Bethune-Cookman. He’s in line for more playing time in 2014.
TB Mario Pender: Considered one of the fastest players on Florida State’s team, Pender so far hasn’t had much of a chance to show fans his ability. The Cape Coral, Fla., native had a sports hernia injury in 2012 and then was academically ineligible in 2013. But in December, he did play the role of Auburn running back Tre Mason on the Seminoles’ scout-team offense.
DT Timmy Jernigan: A two-year starter, Jernigan improved with each season and developed into one of the nation’s top interior linemen. He had 63 tackles and four sacks as a junior before declaring early for the NFL draft.
DE Tank Carradine: A junior-college transfer, Carradine was part of the nation’s top pass rushing duo (along with Bjoern Werner) in 2012. Carradine had 80 tackles and 13 sacks as a senior and was drafted in the second round by the San Francisco 49ers.
TB James Wilder Jr.: Florida’s Mr. Football, Wilder chose to play running back over linebacker at the college level. Wilder was a bruising runner who had 20 career rushing touchdowns before declaring early for the 2014 NFL draft.
S Karlos Williams: Considered the top safety prospect in the class, Williams saw most of his playing time in nickel and dime packages on defense and was a special-teams standout. His speed and size prompted Florida State to move him to tailback, where he ran for 730 yards and 11 touchdowns.
OL Bobby Hart: Just 19, Hart has already started 23 games and helped pave the way for Florida State’s record-setting offense in 2013. Hart has struggled at times but has often graded out above 80 percent.
WR Christian Green: A high-school quarterback, Green at first struggled to make the adjustment to receiver. He has just 42 catches (and no touchdowns) but Green is in position to see more playing time in 2014 after the graduation of Kenny Shaw and the early departure of Kelvin Benjamin.
CB Lamarcus Joyner: A star at both corner and safety, Joyner returned for his senior year and was a unanimous All-American. He had 69 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions in 2013, helping the Seminoles win the national title.
LB Jeff Luc: One of the nation’s top prep linebackers, Luc was Jimbo Fisher’s first big verbal commitment in December 2009. He had 23 tackles at Florida State in two seasons before transferring to Cincinnati. Luc had 43 tackles for the Bearcats in 2013.
DT Jacobbi McDaniel: After recovering from a broken ankle in October 2011 that sidelined him until 2013, McDaniel rehabilitated for the chance to play as a backup this season. He had 29 tackles last season and 94 in his career.
QB EJ Manuel: One of the top quarterback prospects in the nation, Manuel was first a fill-in starter for Christian Ponder and then a two-year starter in 2011 and ’12. He threw for 7,741 yards and 47 touchdowns in his career and also went 4-0 in bowl games. He was a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2013.
LB Nigel Bradham: A hard-nosed player, Bradham started three seasons and finished with 306 tackles. He also had nine sacks, and Bradham was drafted in 2012 by the Buffalo Bills.
WR Corey Surrency: After playing two years at a junior college, Surrency caught 12 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns in 2008. He was declared ineligible the following season because he had played for an amateur football team in Miami at the age of 21 before beginning his junior-college career (which by NCAA rule counted as a college season).
DE Brian Coulter: A junior-college star, Coulter signed with Florida State but never did enroll. He eventually landed at Missouri and had 73 tackles and five sacks in 2008 and ’09.
S Myron Rolle: Considered the top defensive back in the class, Rolle was a freshman All-American after recording 77 tackles and a sack. He had 206 tackles from 2006-08, graduating early and studying at Oxford after being named a Rhodes Scholar.
WR Fred Rouse: The nation’s top recruit, Rouse caught six passes for 114 yards as a freshman. But he was dismissed by coaches for violating team rules, transferred to Texas-El Paso and then later landed at Concorida College in Selma, Ala. He is now trying to resurrect his career in Canada.
RB Antone Smith: He was just 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, but Smith ran hard. He ran for 819 yards as a junior in 2007 and 792 yards as a senior in ’08. He has played for the Atlanta Falcons the past four seasons.
DT Callahan Bright: After signing with Florida State, he didn’t qualify and went to a prep school and then junior college. He then played a season at Division II Shaw University, declared early for the draft (was not picked) and played in the Arena Football League.
QB Xavier Lee: The state’s all-time leader in career passing yards among prep QBs when he graduated, Lee was the named Mr. Football and came to Florida State with high hopes. Lee was mostly a backup in Tallahassee, completing just 51 percent of his passes for just 2,323 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was 2-4 in his six career starts.