College Football Recruiting: 5 Possible Running Backs for Florida State Seminoles in 2014
5 Possible Running Backs for Florida State in 2014
Florida State has changed their recruiting philosophy dramatically since the Bobby Bowden era ended. Gone are the days where they would wait until January and and February to fill out their class. Somehow, Bowden was able to nab some of the top talent in the country late in the process, often on National Signing Day. It was a risky strategy but one that obviously worked well for Bowden and his staff.
Since Jimbo Fisher has taken over as the head coach he's taken a much different approach. The class of 2014 is a prime example. It's only mid-June and the Seminoles already have 15 commitments for next year, something fans would never have seen when Bowden was in charge. If all of those commits stick (and as we know, recruiting is a fickle game), Florida State will have filled up approximately 60% of their class already.
Despite the run of commitments in recent weeks, there is one position that has still hasn't received a commitment yet -- running back. On offense they have verbal commitments from a quarterback, four wide receivers, three offensive linemen and a tight end, but they still haven't locked up a ball carrier to this point. That will, of course, change, but the Seminoles are taking their time evaluating players and deciding how each would fit into Fisher's offensive scheme.
In his time as an offensive coordinator, Fisher has shown a propensity to rotate his running backs liberally, allowing three or four guys to get touches within the same game. As a result, he often has a mixture of styles. He's had quicker, scat-back types who can be a part of the passing and screen games. And he's had bigger, bruising running backs who are productive around the goal line and when Florida State needs crucial first downs to run the clock out at the end of games.
There will be a few commits for the class of 2014, and it’s only a matter of time. Here’s a look at five players the Noles have interest in and the odds of signing each.
5.) Leonard Fournette- New Orleans, Louisiana
This is a pipe dream for the Seminoles, but they do have some semblance of a chance, so he makes the list. Fournette is considered the best running back in the country and is being recruited by nearly everybody. As a Louisiana native, most recruiting experts think he is a lock for LSU, and they are probably right. However, Florida State has put in considerable work with Fournette, and he has shown some level of interest in playing in Tallahassee. Ultimately, he’ll likely end up in Baton Rogue, but at this point, it’s still a small possibility.
Chance of signing: <5%
4.) Derrell Scott- Havelock, North Carolina
Former Tennessee coach Jay Graham is the new running backs coach at Florida State and has been the primary recruiter for Scott. At this point, it looks like the work has paid off as Scott is seriously considering the Seminoles. When it’s all said and done, the primary competition for him will be South Carolina.
Scott is a three down back that finished his junior season with over 1,700 yards rushing and 34 touchdowns. He has great vision, quick feet and explosiveness with the ball in his hands. He’s a bit undersized at only 180 pounds but has the frame to get bigger. Wherever he ends up, he will be an offensive weapon.
Chance of signing: 40%
3.) Aeris Williams- West Point, Mississippi
Williams has been gaining notoriety in recent months and has picked up several offers along the way. In addition to Seminoles, he’s also considering Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Wisconsin. In the end, those home state schools could end up being tough to beat.
At 6’2” 208 pounds, Williams is a powerful runner who can run between the tackles. He doesn’t have great speed, but his vision and lateral movements allow him to find space to run. He does have the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield which is an added bonus at the collegiate level.
Chance of signing: 20%
2.) T.J. Harrell- Tampa, Florida
Harrell is one of the more underrated players in this class and is actually being recruited as a safety by many schools. The three star athlete has good size at 6’1” 210 pounds, but he doesn’t have the elite speed that other backs in this class do.
He has a litany of offers, but most think he will stay within the state, most likely at Florida State. He’s visited Tallahassee a of couple times in the last few months and will be back on campus in July. It’s entirely possible he commits to the Noles then, knowing that they have other prospects who might claim a spot in this class.
Chances of signing: 75%
1.) Shai McKenzie- Washington, Pennsylvania
McKenzie recently narrowed his list of schools to five, and some think the Seminoles are at the very top of that list. He credited his strong relationship with Graham as one of the primary reasons he likes Florida State so much at this point.
As a junior he ran for an absurd 2,700 yards and 42 touchdowns, displaying a skill set that will translate well to the next level. Despite his size (5’11” 215 pounds), McKenzie has shown nice feet and quickness at the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t possess breakaway speed, but he does have a knack for finding the end zone consistently.
He’s not a game-breaking, dynamic runner, but he's a productive one that does everything well.
Chance of signing: 55%
Final Class Projection
Though Fournette would be an incredible signing, that's highly unlikely to happen. When the dust settles, I think the Noles sign Shai McKenzie, T.J. Harrell, and Derrell Scott. That will give them two powerful backs and a third down back to utilize out of the backfield. It won't be a high profile class that vaults them to the top of the rankings, but Florida State isn't concerned with how many stars a running back has. They are more concerned with fit, and these guys will work in their schemes.