As National Signing Day creeps ever so closer (and I do mean creeps, Wednesday can't get here fast enough) there are still a sizable group of recruits that have yet to commit to a school. Some of these recruits are projected to make a significant impact at the school they choose. Florida State is one of the teams that will receive the biggest impact, positive and/or negative, based on the decisions of a few high school seniors from around the country. Currently ranked 12th in the most recently updated Rivals.com Team Rankings, Florida State is projected to finish as high as 3rd or 4th if everything breaks their way on Wednesday.
Two of the players that are currently uncommitted but that are considering Florida State are 5-star OLB Christian Jones and 4-Star DE J.R. Ferguson. Both players are physical specimens that more than exceed the desired physical measurables for their respective positions. Both have been compared to successful NFL players that were also big time college athletes as well. And both players play at a position of need for Florida State University. However, the purpose of this post is to determine which one, if I could only have one, would be the player I'd like to commit to the 'Noles.
Now at first reckoning this would seem to be a no-brainer: just take the 5-star, the higher rated player and more coveted player and be done with it; but I don't believe it's that easy.
First, many of FSU's problems in 2009 and the biggest factor for a 7-6 finish were on the defensive side of the ball. That would seem like another factor in Jones' favor but taking a closer look at last season there was a definite problem on the defensive line. Even with the additions of Jaccobi McDaniel and Marcus White the Noles couldn't get any kind of pass rush generated and thus exposed the weak secondary. A great defense is anchored up front by the line as they generating a good pass rush with just the front four, allowing the rest of the defense to cover for only 3-4 seconds and making everyone's life easier. A great pass-rusher like Ferguson would really have a great impact on the entire defense as a whole.
Secondly, the 'Noles have long thrived on a two-deep rotation on the defensive line. This allows the d-line to stay fresher throughout the game and thus able to make a bigger impact late in the game. Unfortunately for the 'Noles and for the defense there just weren't enough quality players on the roster to allow them to effectively play this technique. This caused the players to wear down quicker and the entire defense to suffer as a result. Ferguson is 6'3", 273lbs with the skill set to play both inside and outside on the defensive line which only makes that two-deep rotation even more effective.
Third, Florida State has continually made a recruiting impact in the state of Florida, but has recently attempted to stretch it's reach out even farther around the Southeast. Of the two prospects Ferguson would have more of an impact. Jones currently attends high school in Winter Park, FL near Orlando, FL which is already a fertile recruiting ground for the 'Noles. Ferguson, however, goes to Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia. Hargrave has produced many athletes such as Tory Holt, Josh Smith, Josh Howard and Brandon Albert of the Kansas City Chiefs. Having Ferguson on board to allow the 'Noles to tap into all the talent that flows through that school would only help the team into the future.
As I've illustrated it's much more complicated than just taking the best player according to the rankings and moving forward. Because of all the reasons illustrated here I believe Ferguson may be the better fit for the 'Noles and their current roster.
Christian Jones - FSU (yeah, I won't be too upset)
J.R. Ferguson - Miami