With spring practice officially underway around the ACC, we’re taking a look at each program, using recent performance, win-loss trends, coaching and current and future personnel as indicators. Next up: Florida State.
2015 record: 10-3 (6-2 ACC)
Three-year record: 37-4
Coaching situation: The overtures have come in some form or fashion in each of the last two seasons. How serious they were depends on who you ask, but what’s clear is that Jimbo Fisher didn’t leave, even when there were potential or actual vacancies at places such as Texas and LSU. He’s turned Florida State into not just a dominant team by ACC standards, but one of the handful of truly elite teams in the country that can compete for a national championship every year. Fisher is one of America’s best coaches, and he’s ensconced at FSU. And while he’s lost numerous coordinators and assistants who have risen up the coaching ranks, the success -- and Fisher -- have remained the same.
Roster situation: After three straight years of massive attrition to the NFL -- 29 players were selected in the last three drafts -- Florida State finally gets a relatively quiet offseason. Other than at linebacker, where the pickings might be a bit slim, the Seminoles return experienced depth at virtually every position. The loss of Jalen Ramsey at corner does provide one major blow, but the defense still has ample talent with stars such as DeMarcus Walker and Derwin James. The real roster questions are on offense, where quarterback and wide receiver are filled with talent but Fisher desperately needs a few stars to emerge from those deep groups. Is Sean Maguire the answer at QB or will a youngster step up? Can Travis Rudolph hit his highs more consistently or will he continue to mix great games with marginal ones?
Recruiting situation: Fisher has brought in a top-10 class every season since he became head coach, culminating with ESPN’s No. 1-ranked class in 2016 -- a haul that included 16 ESPN 300 recruits. Levonta Taylor -- the nation’s top cornerback -- could help fill the void left by Ramsey, and Malik Henry -- the No. 2 dual-threat QB -- could emerge as part of the competition there.
Trajectory: Steady at the top. It says a lot about a program when a 10-win season and a berth in a New Year’s Six game constitutes a down year, but that’s where Florida State is these days. The blowout by Houston in the Peach Bowl certainly left a sour taste in the mouths of Seminoles fans, but 2015 still was a stellar campaign even as Fisher searched for a QB. If he finds an answer in 2016, Florida State will be in the mix for a second national title in four years.