November 14, 2013

Official visitor recruiting preview - FSU-Syracuse

This weekend will be another big recruiting weekend for Florida State. The 'Noles will host several official visitors, including a five-star prospect. breaks down some of the top targets expected to be in attendance at the Syracuse game on Saturday.

Complete and up to date recruiting visitor list for Syracuse-FSU


OL Damian Prince

Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.)

The big news for FSU came on Tuesday night when five-star offensive tackle Damian Prince spoke with the FSU staff to set up his official visit. This move is big
for the 'Noles for several reasons. First, Prince has only seem one or two FSU games on TV because most weeks his team plays on Saturday, so experiencing a game day atmosphere with his grandparents will be very important. Second, FSU gets him right after a Maryland visit where things didn't quite as expected - the Terps fell 20-3 to Syracuse. This visit is also important because it allows him to spend some quality time with other DMV players like Ronald Darby, Eddie Goldman and E.J. Levenberry.

Don't be surprised if FSU emphasizes the family atmosphere and relationship with Rick Trickett. Keep in mind this is his first time meeting Trickett in person, so it's a vital part of his recruitment. The two have spoken on the phone, but a face to face meeting will really take FSU to another level.

We have called this recruitment a dead heat with Maryland/FSU for a while, but if FSU hits a home run (comfort, Trickett, atmosphere, bond with players) the vibe
from those around the Prince and FSU camp that the 'Noles will take over the lead.

OL Frank Ragnow

Chanhassen (Victoria, Minn.)

If there's one player that is quite familiar with the FSU program it would be Ragnow. He visited earlier this fall and most believe after spending time with Rick Trickett and getting to know the players it vaulted the 'Noles to the top spot. Since that time, Ragnow took his first official visit to Arkansas, which Ragnow says went very well. Now it's FSU's turn to host the three-star prospect for an official visit.

At this point Ragnow plans to take all five of his official visits. This weekend will be his second official visit and plans to visit other schools like Ohio State, Miami and Minnesota (unofficial). Most believe this is an Arkansas/FSU battle at this stage despite the Buckeyes jumping into the mix late into the process. That could change after the visits, so making a strong impression is the key for FSU. He probably won't name a leader after this weekend. But the good news for FSU is that all the basic introductions are out of the way (facilities/campus tours, academic overview, etc.) is out of the way. The focus on this visit is to experience game day at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Those close to Ragnow feel after this weekend if the atmosphere on Saturday is anywhere like it's been for previous home games, it will push FSU back to that top spot.

OL Kareem Are

Fort Scott C.C. (Fort Scott, Kan.)

Kareem Are is a name started to pick up this spring when the Seminoles were the first team to extend an offer. Florida State has also been in regular contact since that offer and hasn't let off the gas. The Seminoles would like to get two JUCO offensive tackles in this class since most of their targets are expected to enroll in January, as is this 6-foot-6, 300 pound standout. Since the FSU offer, Are picked up offers from Texas A&M, South Carolina and Penn State. But he never forgot about the team that has been from the start and has the Seminoles as his leader. Are also rewarded the Noles with his first official visit and the vibe is this trip could be his last if all goes well. It's possible that he might take one more visit after Florida State, but that strictly depends his visit.

Since this is his first visit to FSU, this weekend will be mostly about spending time with Rick Trickett and seeing first hand what the players are like, especially the offensive lineman. Are is somewhat of a quiet kid, so a key part of his visit is how he interacts with the players. With the limited spaces at offensive tackle for JUCO, it would not be a shocker if Are pulled the trigger as he and Jordan Prestwood are two guys very high on the radar.

DB C.J. Hampton (Ole Miss commit)

Meridian (Meridian, Miss.)

Malone is one of the most intriguing official visitors this weekend. Tennessee has made a strong surge for the four-star WR in the past month, but the key factor is how hard FSU push for his services. Assistant coaches Randy Sanders (formally at Tennessee) and Jay Graham have a close bond with Malone. Another connection is he has trained with FSU freshman DB Jalen Ramsey. The focus for this weekend will be on the family atmosphere. Also, it is still up in the air as to whether Kelvin Benjamin and/or Rashad Greene turn pro (which will open up a spot or two for early playing time).

TE Mavin Saunders (FSU commit)

Kinkaid (Houston, Tex.)

Early in the season, Saunders had some concerns about playing tight end and even hinted that Oregon could be in the mix because of how they used their tight ends more like receivers. That was before Saunders experienced a season playing the position and seeing how he would be used in the FSU offense. Those nerves calmed down and Saunders again considers himself a solid FSU commitment. Saunders said he "might" take a visit to Oregon, but that it depends on the FSU visit and how everything goes. Earlier this year, Saunders took an unofficial visit to FSU and committed while on the visit. One of the big reasons
was what Tim Brewster does with his tight ends and it's closer to home (Bahamas), so his family can come see him play.

Look for Saunders to focus on how Nick O'Leary is used. In fact, it's a pretty good bet O'Leary will likely have some hosting duties this weekend and don't be surprised if Kelvin Benjamin also gets involved on the trip. Benjamin was considered a tight end by most experts and has ended up being a major weapon at receiver. This weekend is all about showing Saunders his fit into the offense.


RB Donte Thomas-Williams

Hillside (Durham, N.C.)

Williams is still considered one of the top overall big backs on the board for the Seminoles and barring any setbacks with travel, he expects to take his first visit to Florida State. Right now, this visit is listed as an unofficial visit, but it could turn into an official visitor by the end of the week. The Seminoles are in a close battle with West Virginia. However, the Williams family is very close to running backs coach Jay Graham and most feel that relationship, along with Williams appreciation for James Wilder could be the difference maker. The possibility of Wilder turning pro after this season would leave an opening for yet another big back and FSU has been making a major push for Williams since the start of spring football.

If Williams does visit, the early vibe is it will likely take over the lead assuming everything goes well. Williams has seen the 'Noles in action before for the Clemson game. The biggest pitches for FSU will likely be player interaction and academics.

LB Jacob Pugh

Godby (Tallahassee, Fla.)

Pugh is considered one of the best overall prospects in the state of Florida this year. He has been committed to Florida State
since the summer and hasn't thought twice about taking another visit. He has attended nearly every single home game as recruiter for the 'Noles. He has no plans
Pugh was also quite excited after last Friday's 33-3 win over rival Lincoln. He was also pretty excited about another win last weekend. "We got what we needed from Stanford the other night. We're on track to play for that national title. That's big time," said Pugh.

RB Jonathan Vickers

North Florida Christian (Tallahassee, Fla.)

Another local commitment is Vickers who has also been a home game the regular. He has no plans to take any other visits at this stage, except to Florida State. Vickers also likes what he's seeing
from the FSU backfield at running back. "James Wilder, Devonta Freeman and Karlos Williams are having a strong year. I love how they attack the defense and don't just wait for something good to happen. They all bring a different element to the backfield and that makes them really tough to contain. I can't
wait to be apart of that next year."

WR Deon Cain (2015)

American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.)

Tampa Bay Tech athlete Deon Cain has always had the 'Noles high on his list and plans to see them once again this weekend. Cain has named FSU as his early leader is originally from Tallahassee and grew up a FSU fan. This weekend he will focus on how the FSU receivers perform and hopes to spend some time with the players and coaches. The Noles like Cain as a receiver despite playing quarterback on his team.


RB Jordan Scarlett

University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

It's never too early to peek into the future at running back. Earlier this year, Jordan Scarlett named Florida State his leader and hasn't really backed off that claim despite keeping Miami and South Florida, among other schools, in the mix. He has been very impressed with the rotation FSU uses in its backfield. He has also built a close bond with assistant coaches Tim Brewster and Jay Graham.

DT Trenton Thompson

Westover School (Albany, Ga.)

Trenton Thompson is another prospect that has FSU moving back up his list again. He is a big fan of FSU defensive tackle coach Odell Haggins and what he has done with all the defensive tackles he's sent into the NFL. We also hear Thompson's mother has also built a strong relationship with Haggins. The 'Noles still trail Georgia, a team he liked growing up. This will be his second game he's attended this year and with the atmosphere of Saturday's expected to be one of the best all year, the 'Noles could give Georgia some company at the top.

RB/S Kerryon Johnson

Madison Academy (Madison, Ala.)

Although Kerryon Johnson hasn't named a leader or indicated one lately, he isn't afraid to call his childhood favorite FSU his team with his Twitter tweets. He loves the FSU offense and the balance it's shown. This is his first chance to check out a game this year. Auburn has appeared to be the team trending up, but can FSU reclaim that top spot it had in the spring? It would not be a surprise if it did. FSU likes Johnson at both running back and safety. FSU will likely have a need at both positions, more so at safety.

Note: The two other official visitors are FSU commitments Treon Harris and Mavin Saunders.

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