Seminoles primed to reload with 2012 recruits

Seminoles primed to reload with 2012 recruits

Published Jan. 20, 2012 9:01 a.m. ET

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — While Florida State’s 2012 signing class might be smaller in size and likely won’t be ranked as high as last year’s No. 2 class, recruiting analysts believe this group is loaded with talent and fills the Seminoles’ future needs.

With less than two weeks until National Signing Day on Feb. 1, FSU has verbal commitments from 16 student-athletes. Three have enrolled early: tailback Mario Pender, punter Cason Beatty and junior-college offensive lineman Daniel Glauser.

The strength of the class is clearly on the defensive line, where Mario Edwards Jr., Chris Casher and Dante Fowler Jr. are committed to play for the Seminoles. Edwards, of Denton, Texas, is considered the top defensive end prospect in the nation. Casher, of Mobile, Ala., and Fowler, a St. Petersburg Lakewood standout, are among the top-10 defensive ends in’s rankings.

While FSU is loaded at defensive end with seniors Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine, as well as junior Bjoern Werner, defensive end is certainly a position of need for 2013 and beyond.

“I watched all three compete at the Under Armour game and practices, and they are elite prospects at defensive end,” said Geoff Vogt, a recruiting analyst in Florida for “It is tough to find a player as big (290 pounds) and explosive as Edwards. He is a freak. Fowler and Casher are more traditional DEs and can fly up the field.”

Edwards is the son of former FSU and NFL defensive back Mario Edwards. While the younger Edwards has verbally committed to FSU, he also is considering Oklahoma and LSU. Vogt said he believes Edwards will end up in Tallahassee because FSU is his “dream school.”

Hueytown (Ala.) quarterback Jameis Winston also considers FSU his dream school. Winston, the No. 2 QB prospect after Notre Dame early enrollee Gunner Kiel, is a five-star talent with the potential to play both college football and baseball.

Winston was recruited to Tallahassee as much by FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher as he was by Seminoles baseball coach Mike Martin and assistant Mike Martin Jr. Fisher and the Martins are close friends, and the group were able to sell Winston on both programs and provide him the chance to be a year-round college standout.

The question that won’t be answered until June is a challenge: Where will MLB teams draft Winston, and can he be lured into playing just professional baseball? Or would a team try to work a deal that allows him to play college football in the fall but play baseball in the spring and summer?

Winston has reiterated his love for football, and many believe that pull is too strong to keep him from fulfilling a two-sport dream.

“The major league draft is a really difficult thing to project, and there are a myriad of opinions on every player,” Vogt said. “Signablity works both ways here. Does the MLB team want to roll the dice on him? We simply don't know. . . . Focus on celebrating the arrival. When Winston shows up on campus, it is almost a certainty that he will play baseball, as well.”

Winston could one day be throwing passes to Marvin Bracy, one of the nation’s fastest sprinters. The Orlando Boone High sprinter is just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, drawing inevitable comparisons to Florida football and track standout Jeff Demps.

“Bracy's speed is on par with Demps’ at this stage of the game,” Vogt said. “We have seen what that type of explosiveness can do. Demps was shorter and thicker. Bracy will most likely see the field as a kick returner first. If he was to make a big impact there, I could see him being worked into the offense sooner rather than later.”

One player who could have an impact right away is Pender, who has enrolled early early. The Cape Coral Island Coast tailback is fast and physical, and being able to compete in spring practices will only help his development (much like Devonta Freeman last spring).

Pender also could provide needed depth in the fall for FSU, which has a talented but thin backfield. Senior Chris Thompson missed eight games with a back injury, and Freeman and another true freshman, James Wilder Jr., carried the load. FSU also has Eric Beverly, who redshirted last season, but the Seminoles could use an extra runner if Thompson can’t practice or another injury occurs.

“No question he has NFL first-round potential down the road,” Vogt said of Pender. “I think he has a combination of James Wilder’s size and toughness, Devonta Freeman’s vision and quickness and Chris Thompson’s speed.”

And while the focus of the class might be on the defensive linemen and Winston, Vogt said FSU fans should watch out for Markuss Eligwe, a Stone Mountain, Ga., native who is considered the sixth-best outside linebacker in the nation.

“Markuss Eligwe has flown a little under the radar,” Vogt said. “World-class kid with great character; he appears to be focused on coming in and making a big impact. I think he could see the field sooner than many expect.”