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July 31, 2014

Will 3 top QB commitments be company or a crowd?

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The Chant: Twitter reacts to FSU's crazy recruiting day

Only Jimbo Fisher and Florida State could have pulled off Thursday's quarterback recruiting coup.

Just minutes before Rivals250 signal-caller Deondre Francois made a public commitment to the Seminoles from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., four-star quarterback Kai Locksley was on the phone with Jimbo Fisher pledging his commitment to Florida State. Both made their commitments public within a 15-minute span shortly after 2 p.m. ET.

Making the situation even more complicated, and crowded, is that both Francois and Locksley will be joining longtime quarterback commitment De'Andre Johnson, another four-star recruit.

There's a good reason why top quarterbacks prospects are falling all over themselves for a chance to compete for the job at Florida State. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has a remarkable track record of developing quarterbacks both in college and for the pros. Between his seven years at LSU and his next seven at Florida State, Fisher has seen eight of his quarterbacks drafted - with three going in the first round. That number likely will increase in 2015 with Jameis Winston, who is projected as a first-round pick, if he opts to leave early for the NFL.

It's that history of coaching quarterbacks that has recruits with over 20 scholarship offers willing to overlook such a potentially crowded depth chart.

"His track record speaks for itself with all those first-round guys that he really helped mold," Locksley told Warchant.com. "With knowing how raw I am, I think when I can get with a coach like him that will really and truly drill and develop me, the sky is the limit for me and my career."

"The way Coach Fisher (coaches) was a significant part of my decision. How he communicates with his quarterbacks really stood out to me," added Francois. "He's so good at fixing and focusing the small things that you can't see."

Having multiple top-flight quarterbacks in a single class is rare but not totally unheard of. In 2001, Adrian McPherson, Joe Mauer and Matt Henshaw all signed with FSU as quarterbacks. However, Mauer opted for pro baseball and never enrolled at FSU, and Henshaw was quickly moved to tight end upon his arrival to campus. There have been other classes with at least two highly regarded signal-callers signing and enrolling at FSU together. In 2004, FSU landed both five-star Xavier Lee and four-star Drew Weatherford. Five years prior to that, in 1999, FSU brought in Fabian Walker and Anquan Boldin, both highly regarded quarterbacks coming out of high school.

But in this age of ultra-competitive recruiting, having three highly ranked quarterbacks commit to the same school is a unique phenomenon.

"I've never seen this before, and I've seen a lot," Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell said. "Three-QB classes are very rare in recruiting, but three 4-star QB classes are unheard of. And the fact that Locksley needed to jump on board well before he wanted to and Francois still chose the 'Noles, while Johnson has already been committed forever, is amazing to me. Just when you think you've seen it all, this happens."

Warchant TV: Francois announces & 1-on-1 interview

While having three of the nation's top 12 dual-threat quarterbacks in the same class makes for an interesting discussion and helps boost recruiting rankings, it might not last long. Holding on to all three for the next six months leading up to national signing day may prove more difficult than landing the commitments in the first place. In fact, Rivals' national recruiting director thinks the chances are low that all three commitments will hold.

"It has to be low; Auburn and Texas are going to be all over Francois and Locksley respectively, and who knows what the situation will be with Johnson?" noted Farrell. "I'd say there's about a 10 percent chance all three sign come February, and I think it's most important to keep Francois out of the three. He is the most college ready and may be closer to his ceiling, but he's also more of a sure thing."

While history and the odds point to at least one quarterback decommitting before signing day, all three, at least for now, insist that the presence of the other two won't sway their decisions to come to Florida State.

Other high-profile FSU quarterback tandems signing and enrolling in the same recruiting class:

2004 - Xavier Lee and Drew Weatherford
2000 - Chris Rix and Fabian Walker (re-enrolled after prep school)
1999 - Fabian Walker and Anquan Boldin
1987 - Casey Weldon and Brad Johnson
1985 - Chip Ferguson and Peter Tom Willis

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