Four Florida State freshmen explain why they did not sign with other top programs
Returning to Tallahassee was a thought that pervaded Daughtry Richardson’s mind during the last two years.
The University of Miami hoped to land Richardson, the 2022 offensive lineman who moved to its backyard as his recruitment gained steam. He left Godby to play for Miami Edison as a junior, then transferred to Miami Central for his final high school season.
“The biggest difference (between Miami and FSU) was the relationship that I had with the coaches,” Richardson said. “I had a strong relationship with the FSU coaching staff for a long time, because they were recruiting me. I had a good relationship with Miami’s staff. But I felt like Florida State was home, which it is home because I grew up here and I dreamed of being a ‘Nole.”
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The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Richardson is one of several signees in FSU’s 2022 class who could have picked another school with more recent success. Richardson garnered scholarship offers from Oregon, Florida and Kentucky, to name a few. On3 considers Richardson to be a four-star offensive tackle ranked No. 21 at the position and No. 274 overall in his class, though 247Sports and Rivals offer him a three-star evaluation.
There were plenty of other programs interested. But the Seminoles and offensive coordinator Alex Atkins made Richardson feel like a top priority.
“Coach Atkins is one of the realest O-line coaches I ever spoke to,” Richardson said. “One of the realest O-line coaches that ever spoke facts to me when it came to the recruitment process. Coach Atkins has always been real throughout the recruiting process, and he’s always kept it real with me regardless. He never told me a lie. He was always truthful. He guided me like he was my mentor.”
FSU benefited from Richardson growing up in Tallahassee as a Seminole football fan. He named quarterback Jameis Winston, running back Dalvin Cook and safety Derwin James as some of his favorite former FSU players that he watched throughout childhood.
The opportunity to build off their success enticed Richardson, who enrolled a semester early in January.
“I used to always watch them play,” Richardson said. “Even when they played Miami, I used to always watch them. When Jameis Winston ran the touchdown on Miami. It has been great just watching them, knowing that I’m going to be playing for them. I’m going to be a ’Nole, like just blocking for the next big-time QB that might go to the league just like that.”
Decommitment flips from Sam McCall and Rodney Hill
Two other early-enrolled freshmen at FSU could have easily landed with another program.
McCall might be considered FSU’s best high school signee this cycle. 247Sports and Rivals rank the Lake Gibson (Fla.) High product as a top-five safety and among the best 68 players in the 2022 class. On3 pegged McCall as its No. 18 safety and No. 182 overall player.
The Seminoles not only poached McCall from the Gators, but they also fended off premier programs like Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma.
“All my life, I’ve been that one kid that’s always playing with a team that basically has no superstars,” McCall said. “I’ve been that main person that’s always been that guy. To watch Florida State and you saw that one guy, (defensive end) Jermaine (Johnson) from last year, they had that one guy that was always working, always been the man.
“Just to hear from him, watch (head) coach (Mike) Norvell, watch how the leaders grow. I could see another team winning – yeah, winning is all good. But when it’s going bad, let’s see how you work.
“Florida State showed me when everything is going bad, how they’re still working the process.”
Hill verbally pledged to the Cavaliers last February. One month later, the Statesboro (Ga.) Bulloch Academy received an offer from FSU. Then in April, Hill announced his flip on the same day he visited Tallahassee for the Garnet & Gold Spring Game.
“I really liked it,” said Hill about that visit. “It was really the place for me. And then another thing, Virginia, my parents, they are not that young. So Virginia is pretty far from where I’m from. So I wanted to be closer to home a little bit, and Florida State was the place for me.”
Brian Courtney buying into a position switch
Last March, FSU became the first Division I program to offer Ashburn (Va.) Independence quarterback Brian Courtney.
And the Seminoles pursued him as a tight end.
The 6-3, 230-pound Courtney had never played the position, but FSU deemed that his athleticism and skills could translate well at tight end. The Seminoles expressed interest after evaluating his performance at an Elite 11 regional in Virginia Beach in November of 2020, Courtney said.
“So far, I’m pretty much already lining up everywhere,” Courtney said. “That was part of (tight ends coach Chris) Thomsen’s pitch to me. He would say, ‘You are a versatile player. You can play anywhere here on the field.’ That was a big part of what I was excited to hear. I didn’t want to be stuck on line. I wanted to be able to move around and be versatile.”
Some smaller schools liked Courtney at quarterback. Other programs preferred Courtney as a linebacker. Virginia, Old Dominion, Columbia and Massachusetts reportedly offered him. Courtney wanting to play offense for a well-known program ultimately brought him to FSU.
“They were really aggressive with their recruiting,” Courtney said. “I always knew Florida State was the type of school I wanted to go to. For me, I wanted to play tight end over linebacker because I like offense better. Scoring, getting the ball in my hands is my kind of thing. Those two things came together, and Florida State was the choice.”
Reach Carter Karels at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @CarterKarels.
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