Going into the first weekend of the college football season, Florida State is the undisputed No. 1 team in the country.Like Alabama just a few years ago, USC in the mid-2000s, and Miami in the early-2000s, the Seminoles have achieved juggernaut status in the preseason due to a combination of star power, past dominance, and recruiting prowess.
The simple reason why they’re expected to be so good is experience. They return 15 starters from the team that won the national championship last year. That includes Jameis Winston — reigning Heisman winner, consensus No. 1 player in the 2015 NFL Draft, and perhaps the best player in college football. It’s not just that these guys have high-pressure experience under their belts, it’s that they’re really, really good players.
AsSB Nation’s Bill Connelly noted in his FSU preview, this is basically a minor-league NFL team:
“The Seminoles had seven players picked in the 2014 NFL Draft and currently boast top draft prospects at running back (Karlos Williams), receiver (Rashad Greene), tight end (Nick O’Leary), offensive tackle (Cameron Erving), offensive guard (Tre’ Jackson, Josue Matias), center (Austin Barron, though he’s a rung below others), and strong safety (Tyler Hunter). Depending on which underclassmen go pro, they could also end up with high draft picks at quarterback (Jameis Winston), defensive end (Mario Edwards, Jr.), defensive tackle (Eddie Goldman), linebacker (Terrance Smith), and cornerback (P.J. Williams, Ronald Darby).”
The Seminoles are so stacked with talent because they have been so good at recruiting. Since coach Jimbo Fisher took over in 2010, FSU has five straight top-10 recruiting classes, based on ESPN’s rankings. It had the No. 1 class in 2011, the No. 2 class in 2012, and the No. 3 class in 2014. As Florida has regressed under Will Muschamp and Miami continues to search for stability, FSU has taken over one of the nation’s most vibrant recruiting hot beds.
The players Florida State lost to the NFL this spring are being replaced by guys who are potential NFL prospects in their own rights.
Against a schedule that features just two top-25 opponents (Clemson and Notre Dame) and zero top-15 opponents, Florida State is going to be heavily favoured in every single game in which it plays.
Jameis Winston can do things like this:
Karlos Williams, who will get the bulk of the carries this year, is ridiculously fast:
Defensive lineman Mario Edwards, rated the No. 18 player in the 2015 NFL Draft by ESPN, is a beast:
FSU destroyed everything that moved in the regular season last year. Nine of its 13 wins came by at least 30 points. Until the national championship game, no teams got within two touchdowns of the Seminoles.
While the laws of regression tell us that things will be more difficult this year, Florida State is absolutely stacked.
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