There is little doubt that among the 2012 recruiting classes in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Miami’s showed the most promise on the field. Part of it was pure talent, part of it was a function of the Canes’ current roster, but there is little doubt that the opinion that Miami has some of the best, proven young talent in the country holds true based on last season.
Jimbo Fisher will rely on members of his talented 2012 class at several key positions this season.
Up the road in Tallahassee, though, there are several from the 2012 cycle that are poised to leave their mark this season.
Florida State’s 2012 recruiting class, which ranked third nationally, figures as a whole to make a large impact for the Seminoles this season.
Several members of the class saw playing time as true freshmen, some didn’t, but by and large this 19-member class as a whole will be of the upmost importance for Jimbo Fisher and staff during the 2013 season.
Of course, the starting quarterback for the Seminoles projects to be redshirt freshman Jameis Winston, who was a five-star prospect (247Composite) out of Hueytown, Ala., in the 2012 class. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Winston has tremendous physical gifts and his ability to elude pressure and make plays with his feet gives him an added dimension. Of course, it’s not like last year’s starter, EJ Manuel, was a statue in the pocket. The first quarterback taken in April’s NFL Draft was very capable on the run. Winston, however, may be more of a big-play threat.
There’s a chance that Winston could set the league on fire and by midseason be one of the most talked about players in the country. There’s also a chance this season will be a learning curve, as that happens with first-year starters at quarterback.
The No. 1 overall prospect (according to 247Sports) in the 2013 cycle, defensive lineman Mario Edwards, is penciled in to start at defensive end. Reports out of Tallahassee indicate that Edwards is in better shape and showed flashes of dominance during spring practice. Like most young players, he just needs to be more consistent. Last season wasn’t a bad debut for Edwards- he played in 11 games and had 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Edwards also is a great fit within the scheme of first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who came over from Alabama. While Florida State isn’t expected to transition this season to a three-man front like the Tide, big and versatile defensive linemen like Edwards certainly have their spot. He can play outside or slide inside in certain situations. That type of versatility was a big reason he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in 2012.
Another member of the 2012 class, defensive end Chris Casher, is listed as the back-up to Edwards.
Ronald Darby was a five-star cornerback signee out of Potomac High in Oxon Hill, Md., in the 2012 class and saw action as a true freshman, appearing in 14 games and netting 22 total tackles, eight pass break-ups and a forced fumble. The 5-foot-11, 189-pounder is one of the fastest cornerbacks in the ACC and while the Noles’ secondary is loaded (veterans Lamarcus Joyner and Nick Waisome project to start at corner), Darby should see ample playing time.
QB Jameis Winston was a 247Composite five-star in 2012.
Another great DMV signee from the 2012 class for the Seminoles- five-star defensive tackle Eddie Goldman from Friendship Academy in Washington, D.C., saw snaps as true freshman (played in 10 games and finished with eight tackles) and should be in line to play more this season. The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder is expected to back up veterans Demonte McAllister and Timmy Jernigan on the interior of the defensive line.
Linebacker Reggie Northrup had a productive season as a true freshman out of First Coast High in Jacksonville, Fla. He appeared in 13 games and had 10 total tackles, including one for loss. The four-star prospect is listed as a back-up to All-American candidate Christian Jones at outside linebacker.
To top it off, freshman Roberto Aguayo will be Florida State’s placekicker. Aguayo was one of the top kicker prospects in the 2012 cycle out of South Lake High in Groveland, Fla., and has a strong leg.
How they rated
Here’s a look at the previously mentioned Florida State 2012s, plus several others around the ACC that should make an impact this coming season.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State, Hueytown (Ala.), 247Composite rating of 0.9913 (five stars).
J.C. Coleman, RB, Virginia Tech, Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith, 247Composite rating of 0.9085 (four stars)
Trey Edmunds, RB, Virginia Tech, Ringgold (Va.) Dan River, 247Composite rating of 0.8898 (three stars) as an outside linebacker
Stefon Diggs has earned preseason honors heading into his second season at Maryland.
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami, Miami (Fla.) Norland, 247Composite rating of 0.9889 (five stars). All-American candidate.
Anthony Autry, WR, Georgia Tech, Norcross (Ga.), 247Composite rating of 0.8189 (three stars)
Quinshad Davis, WR, North Carolina, Gaffney (S.C.), 247Composite rating of 0.8928 (four stars)
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel, 247Composite rating of 0.9967 (five stars). All-American candidate.
J.P. Holtz, TE, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Shaler Area, 247Composite rating of 0.8848 (three stars).
Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami, Miami (Fla.) Norland, 247Composite rating of 0.9314 (four stars).
Mike Madaras, OT, Maryland, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel, 247Composite rating of 0.8858 (three stars).
Jay Guillermo, OG/C, Clemson, Maryville (Tenn.), 247Composite rating of 0.8784 (three stars) as an offensive guard.
Caleb Peterson, OG, North Carolina, Auburn (Ala.), 247Composite rating of 0.8767 (three stars).
Chris Casher, DE, Florida State, Mobile (Ala.) Davidson, 247Composite rating of 0.9866 (five stars).
Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State, Denton (Texas) Ryan, 247Composite rating of 0.9995 (five stars).
Eli Harold, DE, Virginia, Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes, 247Composite rating of 0.9781 (four stars).
Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate, 247Composite rating of 0.9942 (five stars).
D.J. Reader, DT, Clemson, Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley, 247Composite rating of 0.8868 (three stars) as an offensive guard.
Demetrie Brim, LB, Virginia, Lakeland (Fla.) Victory Christian, 247Composite rating of 0.8389 (three stars) as an athlete.
Raphael Kirby, LB, Miami, Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson, 247Composite rating of 0.9369 (four stars).
Dwayne Norman, LB, Duke, Jacksonville (Fla.) University Christian, 247Composite rating of 0.8187 (three stars) as an athlete.
Reggie Northrup, LB, Florida State, Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast, 247Composite rating of 0.8931 (four stars).
Shakeel Rashad, LB, North Carolina, Jacksonville (Fla.) Episcopal, 247Composite rating of 0.8743 (three stars).
Ronald Darby, CB, Oxon Hill (Md.) Potomac, 247Composite rating of 0.9872 (five stars).
Tracy Howard, CB, Miami, Hollywood (Fla.) Miramar, 247Composite rating of 0.9884 (five stars). All-American candidate.
Travis Blanks, S, Clemson, Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian, 247Composite rating of 0.9564 (four stars).
Wayne Morgan, S, Syracuse, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Erasmus Hall, 247Composite rating of 0.8994 (four stars).
Anthony Nixon, S, Maryland, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic, 247Composite rating of 0.8342 (three stars) as a wide receiver.
Roberto Aguayo, K, Florida State, Groveland (Fla.) South Lake, 247Composite rating of 0.8536 (three stars).
Bradley Pinion, P, Clemson, Concord (N.C.) Northwest Cabarrus, 247Composite rating of 0.8514 (three stars).
-Virginia Tech finished off its offensive line recruiting for the 2014 cycle with the surprise commitment of three-star offensive tackle Brady Taylor (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Reader). There was a quiet confidence in Blacksburg that the Hokies would land Taylor over Kentucky based on the feedback they received following his unofficial visit to the program. First-year offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, who was known for scouring the country for offensive line talent during his days at Auburn, took a similar approach for Virginia Tech this cycle. The Hokies “Fab 5” includes Taylor and Colt Pettit from Hamler Patrick Henry from the Buckeye State, Billy Ray Mitchell (Paramus Catholic) and Tyrell Smith (Don Bosco) from New Jersey, and Eric Gallo (Southampton Council Rock South) from Pennsylvania. Those are areas that Virginia Tech has recruited in the past, but not with any great vigor. Perhaps by design, those states also produce more than their fair share of hard-nosed, capable offensive line prospects. Grimes moved to No. 19 in the 247Sports ACC recruiter rankings after landing Taylor.
-Florida State could take two more running backs in this class in addition to Jonathan Vickers (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian), who jumped on board 12 days ago. Expect two out of Tyreek Hill (Garden City Community College), T.J. Harrell (Tampa, Fla./Catholic), Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa.) and Darrell Scott (Havelock, N.C.) to fill out the class. Also, the Noles have not given up on five-star Florida commit Dalvin Cook (Miami, Fla./Central), who recently visited Texas. Sources within the Florida State program feel especially confident about Hill.
Maryland and Virginia Tech have joined Ohio State in offering Class of 2015 defensive back/athlete Ashton White (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate). ...Three-star athlete Greg Stroman (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) will make a decision Saturday and all signs point to Virginia. ... Duke is the leader for three-star running back Ito Smith (Mobile, Ala./McGill-Toolen). ...Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe is looking to swipe one from his former school. The Demon Deacons offered three-star all-purpose back Robbie Walker (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) during the weekend. Walker, an electric, undervalued, versatile playmaker, committed to Ohio University in mid-July. ...Class of 2015 receiver Brandon Polk appears to be the next FBS-level prospect out of Briar Woods High in Ashburn, Va. The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder holds ACC offers from Maryland, Virginia, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech in the early stages of his recruitment.