Shurburtt: Coaching stability a boost to Florida State's recruiting

Florida State was the first high-profile program to name a head coach in-waiting when the school named offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher as the eventual successor to current coach Bobby Bowden. Typically one of the better recruiting schools in the country, the Seminoles have continued to be strong players after the announcement and in many cases upgraded their recruiting once the stability question was answered.

The Seminoles got on a roll at the end of July with a flurry of six commitments in seven days. Alonso (FL) H.S. defensive end DeMonte McAllister jumped in on July 20, followed by Portsmouth (Ohio) offensive lineman John Prior the following day. Three ESPN150 Watch List prospects joined the group on July 26 as running back Lonnie Pryor of Okeechobee (Fla.) and receivers Xavier Rhodes of Miami Norland and Rodney Smith of Miami Archbishop Caroll all committed. Then, July 28 saw former LSU offensive line commit Henry Orelus of Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central jump on board.

Pryor cited his relationship with Fisher as a big factor in his decision to commit to the Seminoles.

"Coach Fisher and I are real close," Pryor said. "Even though Bobby Bowden is one of the winningest coaches in the country, I think coach Fisher can step right in there and do a great job. He's a real cool guy. He's going to tell you the truth and is a fun guy to be around at the same time."

In addition to the comfort level prospects feel with Fisher and the head-coaching situation at FSU, first-year tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator James Coley has been a major factor as well, particularly in South Florida, where he developed deep roots as an assistant at Florida International. Coley is the recruiter of record for Pryor, Rhodes, Orelus, Smith and Hopkins, and also landed tight end Bryan Stork of Vero Beach (Fla.) in this class.

"He will recruit you hard," Pryor said.

Coley also has the Seminoles positioned nicely for what could be one of the top running back prospects in the Sunshine State for the Class of 2010, Eduardo Clements of Miami Booker T. Washington.

"I am thinking of making an early commitment to Florida State," Clements said. "I want to check out some other schools first, but they are in the lead."

In total, Florida State has 18 verbal commitments heading into August. The list includes four Under Amour All-Americans: defensive lineman Demonte McAllister of Tampa (Fla.) Alonso; wide receiver/slot back Chris Thompson of Greenville (Fla.) Madison County and his teammate defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel; and kicker Dustin Hopkins of Houston (Texas) Clear Lake.

• Under Armour All-American safety DaMario Jeffery of Columbia (S.C.) High is set to announce his decision at a 3 p.m. press conference on August 1 at his school. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is down to South Carolina, Alabama and Auburn.

• ESPN 150 Watch List prospect Brandon McGee of Plantation (Fla.) High will announce his college choice on Aug. 11. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound quarterback/athlete will likely pick either Miami (Fla.) or Florida State.

• LSU and ace recruiter Larry Porter continue to mine the Lone Star State for talent. The Tigers have commitments from three top Texas prospects, including Under Armour All-Americans Russell Shepard of Cypress Ridge and Stavion Lowe of Brownwood. Shepard is a quarterback/athlete and Lowe is an offensive tackle. Both are Porter commits, and he also continues to pursue another Under Armour All-American from Texas, Clemson commit Craig Loston of Aldine Eisenhower, who is also Shepard's cousin.

• Clemson has been a thorn in Florida' side in recent years, plucking talented running backs C.J. Spiller (Class of 2006) and Jamie Harper (Class of 2008) out of the Sunshine State and away from the Gators. Florida returned the favor recently, though, picking up Greer (S.C.) tight end Desmond Parks. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Parks is a major sleeper prospect who the Gators believe will be the next Cornelius Ingram-type player in their offense. The Tigers offered Parks a scholarship during their summer prospect camp.

• Auburn running back commit Rodney Scott of Dixie County (Fla.) High, an ESPN150 Watch List Prospect, remains a verbal to the Tigers but will take official visits to other schools. Florida, South Florida, South Carolina and Ole Miss all will get officials, along with Auburn, as things stand today. The Gators have yet to offer but the Bulls, Gamecocks and Rebels have already offered. The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder is reconsidering his decision to commit to Auburn because he may want to stay closer to home, so give the Bulls the inside track if he decides not to head to The Plains.

• Massive offensive tackle Robert Crisp of Chapel Hill (N.C.) High could end up being one of the best offensive linemen in the country in the 2010 class. At least one college coach believes that Crisp is the best offensive tackle prospect he's seen in the past 10 years. The 6-foot-7, 300-pounder already has offers from Boston College, Clemson, Georgia, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, North Carolina State and East Carolina.

• Baltimore (Md.) Dunbar running back Tavon Austin, an ESPN150 Watch List member, will visit SEC schools Tennessee and South Carolina officially. He also will visit West Virginia, Maryland and Michigan.