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'Noles need help -- and get it

Many of the 27 signees could get considerable playing time in the fall.

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 8, 2001


For a change, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden wasn't looking for a recruiting class that merely would fill out an experienced, talent-laden depth chart.

He knew many incoming freshmen would play -- perhaps even vie for starting jobs in the fall -- because of the graduation of 25 seniors, 15 of whom started.

The prospects look bright.

The group of 27 prospects, bolstered by the Seminoles' trademark flurry of last-minute coups, including running backs Eric Shelton and Willie Reid, receiver Craphonso Thorpe, linebacker Willie Jones Jr. and defensive back Jerome Carter, look that promising.

"It looks like another good recruiting class at Florida State," Bowden said. "And we needed a good class this year because we lost so many players from last year. How many of these boys will play? I don't know, but we'll give them all a chance."

The class could grow in number and brilliance if Diamond Bar (Calif.) High star cornerback Dominic Robinson, nicknamed "Prime Time 2," chooses FSU as expected over Washington and Tennessee. He's scheduled to make an announcement today.

Rivals.com hailed the group as the nation's best, well ahead of Orange Bowl nemesis Oklahoma. ESPN.com recruiting analyst Tom Lemming also said the Seminoles "ran away with the recruiting race just as we predicted they would."

FSU coaches hoped that would occur and, on Wednesday, they learned they had won several key battles that shored up areas hit the hardest by graduation: tailback, linebacker and defensive back.

Shelton, from Bryan Station High in Lexington, Ky., who opted for FSU over Florida, has the size and speed (4.45) that has drawn comparisons with former Penn State all-American Curtis Enis. He fits in with FSU's plans of using more I-formation, power football.

Reid, a standout from Warner Robins, Ga., who eschewed UF and Georgia, is the more traditional Seminole scatback and should help ease the loss of Travis Minor and Jeff Chaney.

Miami Carol City's Willie Jones Jr., hailed as the state's top linebacker and the son of former FSU defensive end Willie Jones, kept FSU waiting until the 11th hour. He also considered Oklahoma. Along with Chauncey Davis, Lakewood High's Marcello Church, Ray Piquion and B.J. Dean, Jones figures to fill the void of Brian Allen, Tommy Polley and backup/special-teams captain, Jean Jeune.

Carter, Lemming's No. 38-rated prospect, also chose FSU over UF and joins Kyler Hall and Gerard Ross in what will be a revamped secondary, given the graduation of Derrick Gibson, Tay Cody and Clevan Thomas.

Thorpe, a speedster (4.37) from Tallahassee Lincoln who waffled between FSU and Miami, might be able to step in immediately with the departure of All-American Marvin Minnis and the move of Anquan Boldin to quarterback.

"If I work hard, then doors should open up," Thorpe said.

That could be true at quarterback, one of the most pressing needs given the graduation of Heisman winner Chris Weinke and backup Marcus Outzen and the dismissal of Jared Jones.

FSU added Bradenton Southeast's Adrian McPherson, Mr. Football in Florida and a star basketball player; Joe Mauer, hailed by some as the nation's top prospect out of Weinke's alma mater, Cretin-Derham (St. Paul, Minn.) Hall, and Matt Henshaw. Mauer is projected as a first-round major-league baseball draft pick and might not end up in Tallahassee.

"I get the feeling talking to Joe Mauer that if he gets drafted, he still wants to play football if he can," Bowden said.

Regardless of Mauer, the Seminoles are confident that crucial position looks good.

Heck. They all do.

Florida State signees

(Name, pos., ht.,wt., high school/college

Xavier Beitia -- K -- 5-10 -- 180 -- Jesuit

Eric Broe -- OL -- 6-6 -- 290 -- Wesleyan (Ga.)

*Milford Brown -- OL -- 6-3 -- 315 -- East Mississippi C.C.

James Buchanan -- DL -- 6-2 -- 240 -- Cardinal Mooney

Donnie Carter -- DE -- 6-4 -- 240 -- Ware (Ga.) County

Jerome Carter -- DB -- 6-0 -- 208 -- Lake City Columbia

Marcello Church -- LB -- 6-1 -- 190 -- Lakewood

Chauncey Davis -- LB -- 6-1 -- 235 -- Auburndale

B.J. Dean -- LB -- 5-11 -- 235 -- Central (Ala.)

Kyler Hall -- S -- 6-1 -- 185 -- Live Oak Suwannee

Matt Heinz -- OL -- 6-5 -- 265 -- Tallahassee-N. Fla. Christian

Andrew Kennon -- OL -- 6-4 -- 285 -- Tallahassee Lincoln

Matt Henshaw -- QB -- 6-4 -- 208 -- Brentwood (Tenn.)

Paul Irons -- FB -- 6-2 -- 255 -- St. Augustine (La.)

Willie Jones Jr. -- LB -- 6-1 -- 200 -- Miami Carol City

Ron Lunford -- OL -- 6-5 -- 324 -- Jacksonville Ed White

Joe Mauer -- QB -- 6-4 -- 205 -- Cretin-Derham (Minn.) Hall

Adrian McPherson -- QB -- 6-3 -- 178 -- Bradenton Southeast

Matt Meinrod -- OL -- 6-4 -- 275 -- East Lake

*Ray Piquion -- LB -- 5-11 -- 200 -- Miami Beach

Willie Reid -- RB -- 5-10 -- 173 -- Warner Robins (Ga.)

Gerard Ross -- S -- 6-2 -- 190 -- Jacksonville Trinity Chr.

P.K. Sam -- WR -- 6-3 -- 185 -- Buford (Ga.)

Eric Shelton -- RB -- 6-3 -- 200 -- Bryan Station (Ky.)

Craphonso Thorpe -- WR -- 6-2 -- 185 -- Tallahassee Lincoln

Justin Tomerlin -- TE -- 6-5 -- 240 -- San Clemente (Calif.)

Blake Williams -- OL -- 6-4 -- 270 -- Kissimmee Osceola

*Already enrolled at FSU. Count toward the 2000 recruiting class.

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