Some say that when it comes to evaluating the performances of someone or something, hindsight is 20/20. This can be especially true regarding college football recruiting, as placing a finger on how an 18 year high school kid will perform at the collegiate level is no easy task.
With that in mind, Noles247 takes a look at Florida State’s recruiting classes over the past 10 years and examines how they panned out.
Florida State’s 2005 recruiting class was in the top five for the second year in a row. Fred Rouse and Antone Smith were at the top of the class with a large number of four star recruits right behind them. Although four of the recruits didn’t meet academic requirements and a few of them were just plain disappointing, there were a few notable players who really made an impact on Seminole football.
Russell Ball, RB: Ball was generally a disappointment for fans. The four star player from Texas redshirted his freshman year, sat out because of an injury in ’06, and missed his senior year because of a torn ACL. He did see a little playing time in ’07 and ’08, but nothing impressive other than his 2 touchdowns.
Callahan Bright, DT: At 6-foot-2, 320 pounds, Bright had the potential to make big plays for the defensive line. But he wasn’t just a big guy, he had the strength and athletic ability to be a key player. The five star recruit benched 385 pounds and could squat over 600. His 40-yard dash was in the 4.8 range and he had 15 sacks in his high school career. Unfortunately, Bright wasn’t bright enough so FSU never signed him because of his difficulty with academics.
Everette Brown, DE: Brown played in all 13 games as a freshman and was named Freshman All-America and All-ACC honoree by The Sporting News. He led the team in sacks, tackles, and tackles for loss in 2007 and made the All-ACC First Team in 2008. He finished his career with the Seminoles with 100 tackles over three seasons. Brown chose to forgo his final year of eligibility and was drafted in the second round by the Panthers.
Philip Browning, C: Browning was invited as a walk-on who redshirted his freshman year and would fail to see the field during his career at Florida State.
Dan Foster, LB: Another four star recruit who had potential did not qualify for the team because of his lackluster academic ability.
Graham Gano, K/P: As a three star recruit in a class of mostly fours and fives, Gano came in under the radar and played in only six games his freshman year. In 2007 he was ranked the 17th best kicker in college football, but by 2008 he won the Lou Groza award. He was the nation’s highest-scoring kicker with 105 points and the most successful in FSU history, completing 92.3 percent of all attempts.
Michael Ray Garvin, DB: This four star recruit was one of the best of his class and had an outstanding career. As a true freshman, he finished first on the team with 12 solo tackles. He continued to play well for the Seminoles and was the only player to average over 30 yards per return in 2008 (2nd in the nation). He set school records for career return yards (1,721), average yards per return (23.57), and tied with Keith Ross for career returns at 73. He now plays as a wide receiver for the Cardinals.
Richard Goodman, WR: One of only six true freshmen to see playing time in 8 games, Goodman was off to a good start. The three star recruit caught a career high 11 passes against Duke, the most by a receiver in 2007, but broke his fibula during that game and was forced to redshirt in ’08. His senior year started strong, but ended early because of another injury.
Charlie Graham, TE: He was only a 2 star recruit, but Graham saw some playing time in his first two seasons. He had 13 starts and caught 14 passes for 126 yards before being dismissed from FSU for poor academic performance. Graham planned to return to the team after graduating from TCC, but blew his chance when he was cited for firing his handgun into the air in celebration. Had this not been only a month after Preston Parker’s arrest on weapons charges, he may have been allowed back on the team.
Letroy Guion, DT: Guion may have signed late with FSU, but he was still the only true freshman to start a game in 2005 against The Citadel where he recorded a season-high five tackles. He finished his career early in 2007 with 66 tackles in 34 games and was drafted by the Vikings in the 5th round.
Geno Hayes, LB: Fans had every right to be excited about this four star recruit who was the No. 3 linebacker in the country according to Tom Lemming of ESPN.com. He was the only true freshman other than Derek Nicholson to play in all 13 games of 2005. Hayes continued to impress when he started the first ten games of the next season. His final season began with an arrest that led to a short suspension, but he still finished 2nd in the ACC with 17.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Like Guion, Hayes opted out of his final season of eligibility and was drafted in the 6th round by the Buccaneers.
Anthony Kelly, DE: Half-brother to Xavier Lee, Kelly transferred to FSU as a junior from Jones Community College. After switching to linebacker, Kelly was expected to be a solid addition to the team, but he injured his ACL and did not play in 2005. He then injured his shoulder in the preseason of ’06 and decided to take a redshirt season.
Korey Mangum, DB: Mangum saw consistent playing time over his 5 years at FSU, but he failed to make a big impact. In fact, he frequently missed big plays after switching from cornerback to free safety in 2009. When you type “Korey Mangum” Google actually auto-suggests the word terrible. At least he made his first career sack against Tebow.
Neefy Moffett, DE: A four star recruit and No. 15 outside linebacker in the country, Moffett switched to defensive end once at Florida State and averaged 1.1 tackles for loss per game in his final year as a Seminole. The Palm Bay native played in 36 career games at Florida State. Perhaps one of his more memorable moments came in his senior year, when Moffett grabbed his only career interception against Clemson and took it back for six.
Derek Nicholson, LB: The younger brother of starting linebacker AJ Nicholson, Derek was a four star recruit and was ranked the No. 30 overall player in the nation, recording more than 600 tackles in his high school career (which broke his brother’s record). He played in all 13 games of 2005 and led the first year players with 21 tackles. Nicholson suffered an injury in ’06, but was back on track in ’07 as the team’s leading tackler with 99 stops. He was the only linebacker to start all 13 games that year. One of the few drama-free recruits of his class, Nicholson was also an All-ACC Academic Team member.
Rod Owens, WR: Owens also had a strong career at FSU. He saw consistent play time and improved his stats with each season. In 2009 he had career highs in yards, receptions, starts, touchdowns, longest reception, and longest touchdown reception.
Jamie Robinson, S: Robinson came to Florida State as a four star recruit and the No. 1 player in South Carolina. He started his college career as a cornerback where he saw consistent time on the field. He exploded in 2009 after changing positions to free safety where he started all 13 games and made 74 tackles. Robinson was known by his coaching staff to have strong leadership ability.
Fred Rouse, WR: Perhaps the most disappointing five star recruit FSU ever signed, he was ranked No. 6 overall in the nation, No. 2 overall in Florida, and was frequently compared to Randy Moss. Some (including Rouse) said he could have played for the NFL straight out of high school. During his single season as a Nole, he spent his time on the sidelines yelling at coaches and placing blame on his teammates. Rouse racked up a few stats, but he and his ego were eventually dismissed from the team for failing multiple drug tests. He then transferred to UTEP and then to a tiny school in Alabama.
Antone Smith, RB: Smith was the only five star recruit of this class that lived up to his expectations. He was the top running back recruit in the country after an impressive prep career where he rushed for more than 6,000 yards. Smith played in 9 games as a true freshman and was one of the fastest on the team. In 2008 he ran in 15 touchdowns (the most in a single season since Warrick Dunn in ’89), was 8th on the all-time career rushing list at FSU, and was 10th in the ACC in rushing.
Kendrick Stewart, DT: Stewart was described as being extremely athletic when he was ranked the No. 13 defensive tackle in the country. He played a little bit his freshman year to pick up slack for the injured Paul Griffin. He saw his best season his junior year when he was named the defensive Seminole Warrior and the most improved defensive player by the coaching staff. It was followed by a mediocre in 2009 when he started in only six games and made only ten tackles.
Clarence Ward, DB: Ward had a short career at Florida State where he didn’t even play because of an injury. He then transferred to Texas Tech where he also didn’t play. He played a little after transferring to Santa Rosa Junior College in 2007 before he transferred (again) to UTEP.
Florida State's recruiting class of 2005 continued the trend of the 2000's for the program, as the class didn’t meet the expectations of fans, with Fred Rouse being its biggest disappointment. Nine players finished out their senior years and three left early for the NFL.
Once again, Florida State saw another recruiting class loaded with potential amount to little more than just that—potential. And the lost decade continued.