The Dynamics of Quarterback Recruiting at Florida State

Sometime last year, I became very intrigued with the state of Florida State’s quarterback depth chart. Deondre Francois was midway through a promising freshman season, but Malik Henry was basically out the door and Sean Maguire was in his last year of eligibility. With J.J. Cosentino (who has been a non-factor so far in his career) as the only other quarterback, I began to wonder:

If Jimbo Fisher is known as the ‘quarterback guru,’ then why is there a lack of talent at the quarterback position on the roster?

Jimbo Fisher has gotten three quarterbacks drafted in the first round between Christian Ponder, EJ Manuel and Jameis Winston, the last of which was the first overall pick and a is a current starter in the league. On the surface, that would seem to be the ultimate trump card when it comes to quarterback recruiting: “Come to Florida State and you will be drafted very highly.”

But after a quick look at the data, I found that Florida State does not recruit quarterbacks at the same level as other national title-contending teams around the country. In fact, Florida State’s quarterback recruiting ranked near the end of the pack when compared to teams like Georgia, USC and Alabama. Even teams like Texas and UCLA have, on average, recruited higher-ranked talent to their campus than Florida State.

After further research, I found one reason that might explain why Florida State struggles on the quarterback recruiting trail: the state of Florida does not produce great quarterback talent. While some good names like Aaron Murray, Teddy Bridgewater and Geno Smith have come out of Florida, those names are few and far between. States like California, Texas and even Georgia seem to produce more talent at the quarterback position than Florida.

This data is also skewed because of the rise of IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Top quarterback prospects, like Shea Patterson and Kellen Mond, are classified as Florida recruits, yet almost always return to their home region to play football. Take those names out of the equation, and the state produces less talent under center.

Perhaps the best way to view this data set is to look at all of the blue-chip quarterback recruits that have signed since 2008 (the year Jimbo Fisher started at Florida State). The current class of 2018 is not included, because those players have not signed yet. Click on the image for a larger view.

California and Texas have dominated quarterback recruiting since 2008.

Notice anything interesting?

For one, there is a large void around the area surrounding Tallahassee. Florida State is located in the panhandle of the state, a place of few people and even fewer football recruits. In fact, the only blue-chip quarterback recruit that has been produced in a nearby radius is Feleipe Franks, who signed with Florida in 2016.Since 2008, the state of Florida has produced only 21 blue-chip quarterback recruits. But, as mentioned before, this data is skewed because of the kids at IMG Academy. Take those recruits out, and that number lowers to only 18 produced since 2008. That averages out to 1.8, or around two, blue-chip quarterback recruits per year in the state of Florida since 2008.

Florida State also faces the unfortunate factor of being located in the same geographical region as several other recruiting superpowers. Rather than explain it, let’s take a look at the same quarterback map, this time with the schools that recruit on a national championship level (plus Florida).

Florida State faces the daunting task of recruiting in the same geographical region as superpowers like Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Clemson and Georgia, not to mention arch-rival Florida just down I-75.

When looking at these two maps, it starts to make sense as to why Florida State has had some struggles on the quarterback recruiting trail. For one, the state of Florida does not produce many elite quarterbacks. Secondly, they have to go against superpowers like Alabama, Georgia and Clemson for those same prospects.

Some years, Florida State has hit it out of the park, like in 2012 when they signed Jameis Winston from under Alabama’s noses and in 2015 when they signed in-state prospect Deondre Francois.

Other years, they have understandably struggled, like in 2010 when the state had zero blue-chip quarterback prospects and in 2013 when the talent at the position was not worth pursuing.

To be fair, quarterback recruiting at Florida State has certainly produced at a high level as of recently. The past four recruiting cycles (2014 to 2017), the Seminoles have signed at least one blue-chip quarterback prospect per class. They also look to be in good position to contend for a commitment from current five-star quarterback recruit Justin Fields from Georgia.

Going forward, it is almost certain that there will be down years in quarterback recruiting from the Seminoles. However, now we have a better understanding as to why this happens. Quarterback recruiting in the state of Florida fluctuates, but is normally below average, and Florida State goes head-to-head with other recruiting superpowers for these players. They are going to win some and lose some. That’s how recruiting works.

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  1. Pingback: Justin Fields commits to Georgia. Now what? – snackpackfootball

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