Big 3 Recruiting Update

Calvin Ridley

Miami (5), Florida State (3), and Florida (3) have combined for 11 National Championships since 1983. Each of those title teams have been loaded with talent from across the country. As we embark on yet another season, let's take a look at where the Big 3 stands recruiting wise.

Florida State

Recent Trends: Working backwards from 2014, FSU has had the no. 3, 16, 11, 1, and 8 ranked recruiting classes in the country. It certainly appears as if FSU will wind up towards the top of that range as Jimbo Fisher has proven to be an excellent closer. The National Title last year will not hurt either and the NFL draft success of the last two years is yet another feather in their cap on the recruiting trail.

Biggest Miss: There have not been many, but putting Dante Fowler on this defense would be something to see. The long-time commitment flipped to rival UF on signing day and would be an excellent fit on defense.

Biggest Pull: Jameis Winston. There is little doubt that while the 2013 team was loaded, Winston was not only excellent on the field, but a leader off of it. He became FSU's third Heisman winner in 2013 (all quarterbacks).

Class of 2015: With 16 verbal commitments (and no. 17 likely coming today) the Seminole's are off to a fast start and have filled some needs.

Biggest Needs: Running Back. Defensive Back.

Headliners: FSU's first verbal commitment was from Safety Derwin James and he has done nothing but impress since that pledge. A consensus 5-star recruit James is a die hard 'Nole and possesses instant impact type potential. Offensive linemen Abdul Bello and JUCO defensive tackle D.J. Jones also possess enormous upside at need positions.

Sleeper: Offensive linemen Cole Minshew. Ranked as the no. 37 OG in the country, the feeling in Tallahassee is that he is much, much better than that and he was clearly a priority for the staff.

Top Remaining Targets: RB Jacques Patrick. RB Johnny Frasier. WR Davante Phillips. WR Calvin Ridley. DE Josh Sweat. DT Darvin Taylor. CB Kris Boyd. CB Tarvarus McFadden.

A strong case can be made that FSU is at least 50-50 with each of the above and Patrick, Phillips, and McFadden are strong leans. There is some out of state work to be done here with Sweat (Virginia), Boyd (Texas), Taylor (Virginia), and Frasier (North Carolina) all having local programs that are in hot pursuit. Jimbo Fisher has shown that he can land players from all over the country.

Biggest Question Mark: When you are on top of the mountain there is not much to question, particularly negatively, so we will ask if it is possible that FSU can keep THREE heralded QBs in the same class? Currently Deondre Francois, Kai Locksley, and DeAndre Johnson are committed.

Predicting the Future: This class appears headed into the top 5 by signing day, particularly if they are right back in the mix for a National Title this year as expected. Florida State has done an excellent job of identifying prospects THEY want and going hard after them. They are not always the highest ranked, but there are certain features that FSU looks for, one of which is size. “There is a reason there are weight classes in boxing.”

Miami

Recent Trends: Miami has landed the no. 11, 21, 9, 41, and 12 ranked classes in the country over the past 5 years. For at least three of those years Miami was open to negative recruiting as sanctions loomed over their head. That is now behind the 'Canes and Al Golden has his first chance to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the country.

Biggest Miss: Defensive tackle. Lots of them. Miami has been right there but unable to land prospects like Keith Bryant, Jaynard Bostwick, Travonte Valentine, and Khairi Clark. At some point they will need to land these types to get back to where they once were.

Biggest Pull: Duke Johnson is Miami's best player, but he was a 'Cane seemingly out of the crib. We will go with Tracy Howard who was a huge coup on signing day and started mojo heading back to Coral Gables.

Class of 2015: Miami has 22 verbal commitments and only have a few spots remaining. Of course there will be some movement (as there will be anywhere), but Miami can be real selective going forward. They have filled the immediate needs, now need to add a few difference makers.

Biggest Needs: Depth across the board. Defensive Tackle. Defensive End. Running Back. Offensive Line.

Headliners: Running Back Jordan Scarlett is among the nations best at his position and he is ready for college right now. Scarlett is instant impact and capable of carrying the load. Linebacker Charles Perry was the 'Canes first commitment and he is very under-rated on a national scale, a three down LB with some pop, he would be one of the best LBs Miami has signed in a decade. Quarterback Dwayne Lawson is an ideal fit in Miami as he needs some time to develop and Miami should be able to give him that time (signed 2 last year).

Sleeper: Defensive End Scott Patchan. His ranking (no. 49 DE) borders on the criminal on Scout.com. Athletic and long, we expect to see some great things from Patchan down the road. He needs to fill out his frame, but plays the game as hard as anyone.

Top Remaining Targets: WR Calvin Ridley. OL Jalen Merrick. CB Tim Irvin. CB Tyrek Cole. S Jaquan Johnson.

Miami was once the leader for Ridley, but fell out of favor and he made a verbal commitment to Alabama. Ridley appears to be open and both FSU and Miami will try to change his mind. Irvin, Cole, and Johnson are South Florida defensive backs that the 'Canes need to land. They are in excellent shape with each.

Biggest Question Mark: Perhaps more so than any program, Miami needs to lock-down the recruits within a 50 mile radius of campus. This year that means closing with a 4-5 prospects fromt Dade and Broward County. Can Golden do it?

Predicting the Future: Based off of the rankings, it appears like it will be difficult for Miami to get inside the top 10, but they are a sure bet to land in the top 20 and most importantly have hit on some needs. With four running backs committed, six offensive linemen, and four defensive linemen committed, the 'Canes have addressed their needs and we see a clear movement towards size. They are adding prospects with bigger frames to the program. Miami is off to the best start in the country for the class of 2016 with more than a few difference makers already committed. Things appear to be trending up in Coral Gables for the first time in five years.

FLORIDA

Recent Trends: Florida has landed the no. 9, 7, 5, 25, 1 ranked classes the last five years. The defensive prospects have produced, but the offensive ones have really struggled and UF is looking for some play-makers on that side of the ball. QB recruiting has also been spotty and that reared it's ugly head last year as UF went 4-8 including a home loss to 1-AA Georgia Southern. Landing two QBs last year was exactly what was needed and they are back on track there.

Biggest Miss: Wide Receivers. The losses on offense are many. UF led for much of the process with WR Kelvin Benjamin (FSU), but missed down the stretch. Benjamin was last seen making the game winning play in the National Championship game. Wide receiver Stacy Coley proved he was a game changer last year and he once held UF in high regard.

Biggest Pulls: Sure Muschamp has lost some high profile recruits, but he has also flipped plenty. Dante Fowler was a huge steal from FSU and landing defensive linemen Gerald Willis and Thomas Holley showed his ability to go national.

2015 Class: The Gator's have 10 verbal commitments which leaves them plenty of work to do. Many recruits are waiting to see what happens on the field this year, particularly on offense, and one can make a strong case that no Head Coach in the country is under as much pressure as Will Muschamp.

Biggest Needs: Linebacker. Offensive Line. Quarterback.

Headliners: UF's biggest targets can best be described as leans, but they are not commitments. Landing LB Adonis Thomas re-started some much needed momentum, but as mentioned above this year will ultimately tell the tale.

Sleeper: Wide receiver Kalif Jackson has intriguing upside. At 6-foot-4 the Fletcher stand-out brings size and ball skills to the equation. At the very least he should be an excellent red-zone target and perhaps much more. Offensive lineman Mike Horton could also play defensive tackle, we like that versatility and he possesses some upside.

Top Remaining Targets: WR George Campbell. OL Martez Ivey. OL Jalen Merrick. DE Byron Cowart. DE CeCe Jefferson. LB Jeffery Holland. LB Roquan Smith. S Jaquan Johnson.

Like at FSU, most this group is considered leans to UF which means they are in excellent shape to close. The downside is if the season is not significantly better than a year ago, there will likely be a coaching change and we could see a number of these prospects head elsewhere. Campbell is not the top prospect overall above, but he should be for UF as they desperately need play-makers and Campbell has game changing ability.

Biggest Question Mark: Can the UF offense show enough life to attract some top play-makers to Gainesville?

Predicting the Future: Almost impossible in this case. UF probably has a range of a top 5 class in the country all the way down to 30ish depending on the season. UF is in better shape on defense and all things being equal many fans wish that was reversed. There was pressure on Athletic Director Jeremy Foley to make a change last year, one of many reasons he did not was that Muschamp had laid the groundwork with a group of top prospects for this class. This season will determine whether that strategy will ultimately work.

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