Fla. St loads up with top defensive line prospects
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By BRENT KALLESTAD
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State literally went heavy for defensive players Wednesday in another highly ranked recruiting class pulled in by coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff.
The Seminoles landed two of the nation's top-ranked defensive linemen in 290-pound defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr., from Denton, Texas and 310-pound defensive tackle Eddie Goldman from Washington, D.C. Both gave their version of the Tomahawk Chop when announcing their school choice on national television.
"The hard thing to find is big, athletic people," Fisher said. "The bigger and the more athletic they are the better off you are as a football team."
Edwards, who played for Ryan High School in Denton, Texas, hopes to wear the uniform no. 15 worn at Florida State in the 1990's by his father. The 6-4 Edwards was named national defensive player of the year by USA Today.
Edwards and recruit Chris Casher from Mobile, Ala., will join a veteran group of defensive ends at Florida State led by Brandon Jenkins, Cornelius "Tank" Carradine and Bjoern Werner that has helped Florida State rank among the national leaders is sacks over the past two seasons.
"We can keep a great rotation now," Fisher said. "It's a good opportunity for them."
Two other highly recruited 300-pound high school stars, Dalvon Stuckey and Justin Shanks join Goldman on the interior line.
"It's going to create great competition within our team," Fisher said.
The defense designed by coordinator Mark Stoops ended up saving the season as Fisher's offense inexplicably disappeared down the stretch. Florida State led the ACC in scoring defense and total defense while the offense was eighth in total yardage.
Fisher hopes Wednesday's class can fill in some of the gaps.
They signed 10 more Wednesday in a group that also includes linebackers Markuss Eligwe and Reggie Northrup and defensive backs Colin Blake, Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams.
The recruits are being counted on to strengthen a Seminole defense that was among the nation's best in 2011.
"You win championships with defense," Fisher said. "Those guys that put their hand in the dirt change the game."
The signing class also included quarterback Sean Maguire from Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, N.J. and possibly Jameis Winston, a two-sport athlete from Hueytown, Ala., Winston is considered by some as the top dual threat quarterback in the country. He announced Wednesday that he's sticking to his commitment to Florida State, but his paperwork had not been sent. Starting quarterback EJ Manuel will be a senior this fall.
Fisher also nabbed the country's fastest prep player in receiver Marvin Bracy, who just last month recorded the fastest 55 meters time in the world with a time of 6.08 seconds.
Fisher said he's never had a player with Bracy's speed over his quarter-century coaching career.
"He's going to be the fastest high school kid ever," Fisher said. "You're talking about a guy who is probably going to break every sprint record in high school history."
The Orlando two-sport star would miss the beginning of Florida State's fall practice if he qualifies for the U.S. Olympic team this summer.
The Seminoles picked up another speedster in Ron Darby from Oxon Hill, Md. He was one of three defensive backs signed and likely to join Bracy on the Seminoles' perennial track powerhouse.
Three members of the class - offensive tackle Daniel Glauser, punter Cason Beatty and running back Mario Pender - are already enrolled in school. The 317-pound Glauser is being counted on to provide depth on the offensive line while Beatty has the challenge of replacing Shawn Powell and Pender could get into the rotation at running back.
Florida State went out of state for 12 of its 18 signees, landing tight end Christo Kourtzidis from Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif. Sophomore Nick O'Leary is the long tight end with significant playing time on Florida State's roster.
An 18-14 Champs Bowl victory over Notre Dame took some sting out of the somewhat disappointing season for the Seminoles (9-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who failed to get back to the ACC title despite being a preseason favorite to win the league title.
Updated February 1, 2012