Cornerback out of Tennessee chooses Florida State
Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher was able to breathe a sigh of
relief when signing day came to an end on Wednesday.
The Seminoles coach was able to bolster his defense with a dozen
commitments, including a highly rated linebacker from Miami and a
top cornerback from Tennessee who had once committed to Southern
Fears that a coaching exodus at Florida State in recent months
might damage the school’s recruiting efforts appeared to vaporize
when the 22-player class was completed.
”We got some big-time commitments at the end,” Fisher said.
”We hit a little bit of every position.”
Jalen Ramsey, who played at Brentwood Academy just south of
Nashville, signed his letter of intent to play for Fisher at
Florida State. Ramsey, who was ranked as high as the 10th best
player nationally by one recruiting service, had verbally committed
to USC last summer. A Tennessee state champion in the decathlon and
long jump, Ramsey also plans to run track for coach Bob Braman’s
perennial powerhouse track team.
”I feel like Florida State has everything that I’m looking
for,” the 6-foot, 189-pound Ramsey said Wednesday. ”This is the
most comfortable fit for me.”
Although Ramsey called Fisher on Monday night to tell him he
planned to attend Florida State, the coach didn’t breathe easy
until shortly before noon when the formal paperwork arrived.
”I sweat them until I get them,” Fisher said.
The Seminoles signed 6-3, 205 pound Matthew Thomas from Booker
T. Washington High School in Miami, who was regarded as a top 15
prospect nationally and ranked by some as the top linebacker in
this year’s class of high school players. He was one of five
linebackers that signed Wednesday with Florida State.
”He’s one of those guys that can change the game,” Fisher
said. ”A tremendous, tremendous football player. And a competitor,
he’s a winner.”
However, moments later after Thomas’ announcement, his high
school teammate, offensive tackle Denver Kirkland, chose Arkansas
over the Seminoles.
Both decisions by the high school teammates were announced on
ESPN. Thomas’ drew a wild, jubilant cheer in the school’s so-called
”war room” while a disappointed groan followed Kirkland’s
decision. Florida State had also hoped to land highly regarded
offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil from nearby Lake City, who said he
would be heading to Ole Miss.
However, four other offensive line prospects did go with Florida
State in a class that also included three defensive ends, three
defensive backs and a trio of wide receivers.
Ryan Green from St. Petersburg Catholic was the lone running
back signed and John Franklin III from Plantation the lone
The Seminoles seemed to fare as well as they could in the wake
of a half dozen assistant coaches leaving after the 2012
”I actually think it opened up more doors with guys that we got
on the back end,” Fisher said. ”It may have been a wash. We got
in on some key guys that we never had had a chance.”
Florida State lost several key players from one of the nation’s
top defenses last season. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive
end Bjoern Werner both chose to leave school a year early to enter
the NFL draft where both are projected as first-round picks. The
Seminoles also lost several other starters from their defense along
with quarterback EJ Manuel and wide receiver Rodney Smith from an
otherwise young offense.
The Seminoles finished the 2012 campaign with a 12-2 record, the
Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a BCS bowl victory over
Northern Illinois with help from a handful of first-year players
from last year’s class, primarily cornerback Ronald Darby,
defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. and junior college offensive tackle
Menelik Watson, who is leaving after one year to enter the NFL
draft early along with Rhodes and Werner.
Fisher landed wideout Rashad Greene, running backs Devonta
Freeman and James Wilder Jr., tackle Timmy Jernigan, guard Josue
Matias, tight end Nick O’Leary and cornerback Nick Waisome in his
Although he was also influential in three Seminole recruiting
classes prior to taking over the head coaching responsibilities,
Fisher picked up Werner, safety Lamarcus Joyner, linebacker
Christian Jones, defensive tackle Anthony McCloud and wide receiver
Kenny Shaw in February 2010.
AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed
to this report.