clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

As the amount of South Florida talent plummets on FSU’s roster, so does their win total

New, comments

A team that once thrived off South Florida talent is struggling in their absence

NCAA Football: Miami at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Not so many years ago the Florida State Seminoles were riding the wave as one of college football’s biggest and most attractive brands for recruits nationwide. Since 2016, FSU has put together a number two, five and ten recruiting class. By those standards, this 2018-19 Seminole roster should be (and is) loaded with top tier talent from around the nation.

Recruiting success leads to on field success a majority of the time. Just ask Georgia, Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. But, for whatever reason, Florida State has not had anything even relatively close to the success any of those programs have had despite recruiting on a similar level, with the exception of Alabama.

Now, I have a theory as to why. It is apart from Jimbo Fisher and Florida State’s peculiar break-up last off-season and Willie Taggart implanting his system, which would cause friction in any program. It is a theory on personnel.

As previously mentioned, Florida State became an even stronger national brand in the beginning of this decade and attracted recruits from all around the country. Five-star running backs Cam Akers, from Mississippi, and Khalan Laborn, from Virginia, are two examples of elite skill position guys that bought into the Seminole brand from unusual spots. Marvin Wilson is another example of an elite five-star talent from Texas that went to Tallahassee with hopes of becoming a National Champion.

That is all great. Go out and recruit your guys. There is nothing wrong with getting the talent that one believes will make their team and program better. There have been plenty of fantastic Florida State players that have come from outside of the state of Florida. However, there is one area about 500 miles south of Tallahassee that Florida State has not made a priority, or has overlooked, in recruiting for the first time in a long time.

In those recruiting classes that I mentioned earlier (2016-18), Florida State brought in just six guys from the South Florida area and just three in their last two classes combined. Let’s compare that to their 2011-2014 classes. In the span that Florida State grew to a national contender and competed at the highest levels, they brought in 18 South Florida guys including Devonta Freeman, Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin, Bobby Hart, Nick O’Leary, Matthew Thomas, Dalvin Cook, Travis Rudolph and Bobo Wilson.

Dalvin Cook, from Miami Central, and Rashad Greene are both record holders at Florida State. Cook leads in rushing touchdowns (46), rushing yards in a season (1,765), and rushing yards in a career (4,464). Greene, from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, is the all-time leader in receptions in a season (99), receptions in a career (270), and receiving yards in a career (3,830).

On Florida State’s National Championship winning offense in 2013, South Florida players accounted for 4,022 yards and 46 touchdowns. The next year in 2014, Cook’s freshman year, South Florida guys had 4,543 yards and 30 touchdowns.

In those two years combined, Florida State won 27 games.

Fast forward to 2017, the year that the Seminoles struggles started. Combined, Florida State had just 349 yards and zero touchdowns, not counting James Blackman, who started at quarterback for most of the season after Deondre Francois went down. Blackman had 2230 yards and 19 touchdowns in his first year as Florida State’s quarterback.

2018 has been even worse. Only one South Florida player resides on the Florida State offense and it is third-string running back Amir Rasul, who has just seven carries for 30 yards and a touchdown through five games.

It is clear, to me at least, that Florida State’s struggles and the lack of South Florida prospects that are contributing the their offense at the very least correlate. It could be a coincidence that their offensive struggles and their inability (or unwillingness) to recruit the area that has brought so much talent to the university have happened simultaneously.

Brian Burns has been the best player on Florida State’s defense and is their highest rated draft prospect. Burns is a Plantation American Heritage graduate. Stanford Samuels III and Asante Samuels Jr. are the only other South Florida players on the Seminoles defense.

This could partly be because Miami has begun to push Florida State out of the area or that Florida State has chosen to look in other places for their players, but the numbers don’t lie. When the Seminoles have relied on South Florida talent to win, they have had good or great years. When they don’t have those guys, they haven't won nearly as much.

Another impact that the lack of South Florida players has is on this rivalry. Akers, the Seminoles current starting running back, said in an interview even said that this rivalry doesn’t mean much to him because he is “not from Florida.” Check out the video of him saying so here around the 1:25 mark:

The depth of the rivalry seems to be felt much stronger on Miami’s side. Below you see a bunch of Miami guys, including Al Blades Jr., absolutely hyped in their morning meetings for this game. I believe that alone shows how much more this game means to Miami than to Florida State.

A Miami win could be detrimental to Florida State’s success recruiting South Florida and it could metaphorically lock the gates and have the Seminoles on the outside looking in as Miami collects talent from the area that produces BY FAR the most talent in the NFL today.

It makes Saturday’s game even more meaningful. A win for Miami has much bigger implications than just a W on the schedule or a win at Hard Rock for the first time in a long time. Miami has the potential to bury Florida State and re-capture the area that once helped bring five national championships to Coral Gables.