Florida State has never won a national championship in football, but the Seminoles may have finished first in this year's recruiting battle.
Seminole signees include the highest-rated high school running back, defensive back and offensive lineman plus one of the best junior college prospects in the nation.The talented group should make a very good team even better. In fact, the Seminoles might start next season ranked No. 1 in the nation.
"There's no greater selling point that having a hugely talented team," Allen Wallace, publisher of SuperPrep magazine, said. "Success begets success."
Florida State, which has finished in the top four the past four years, loses five starters from last year's team that finished 10-2.
"The guys we recruited saw an opportunity to help Florida State win a national championship," Ronnie Cottrell, the Seminoles' first-year recruiting chief, said.
The Seminoles didn't have to leave the state to find their three top prep prospects. Running back Marquette Smith is from Winter Park, offensive lineman Greg Frey is from Clearwater and defensive back Derrick Brooks hails from Pensacola.
Wallace says Florida State's best find may be junior college transfer Kelly Rush, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive lineman.
"I know that Kelly Rush is the type they figure can help right away," Wallace said. "He's a big-time prospect who everybody knew about."
Florida State signed seven Parade All-Americans, the most in school history. The freshman class features a strong group of offensive linemen led by Frey, Juan Laureano of Orlando, Clay Shiver of Tifton, Ga., and Forrest Conoly of Berlin, Conn.
"We had to have lineman, but we ended up with some of the best skill people we've ever had at Florida State," said coach Bobby Bowden, who spent Thursday at military bases in Florida, visiting troops preparing to leave for Saudi Arabia.
Bowden would be delighted if any of the recruits can match the performance of linebacker Marvin Jones, who led the Seminoles in tackles last season as a freshman.
Although Bowden usually redshirts freshmen, he will use first-year players if he thinks they're ready.
"I want all of my freshman to come in with the idea they're going to play," Bowden said. "We'll take it day by day to see if they're ready to play."