There’s no question that Jimbo Fisher’s recruiting classes are starting to shine through mightily on the field in 2013. When you lose as many players to the NFL as Florida State did following last season, most programs generally take a tremendous hit for a little while as the younger guys get themselves acclimated to the college game.
FSU has not had this problem so far. The most prominent example of that has been how Jameis Winston has taken the world by storm in replace of EJ Manuel. Very rarely do you have someone step in for a four-year starter and perform better than the veteran before him, but Jameis has done that in his redshirt freshman season.
Yes, Winston was a great grab of the 2012 recruiting class. But, here’s the crazy thing. As talented as Jameis is, he wasn’t even considered the number one overall prospect in that class.
No, defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. was and he, like his offensive teammate, is beginning to shine just as everyone anticipated he would.
Now the path that Edwards has taken has been a little different. While Jameis got to sit and learn last season behind Manuel, Edwards was thrust on the field immediately. When Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine went down with a season-ending injuries, Edwards was forced to learn on the fly, early.
And, the results? Well, he wasn’t bad, but there were a lot of areas for improvement. He was still getting his techniques down and, as is the case with most freshman, was having some issues with a few of the defensive schemes.
But what was most alarming, though, was his size. He was big. Too big actually.
Florida State recruited him to be that beast pass rusher off the edge that he was in high school. He was in the backfield before you could blink. At times in his first season, he topped out at around 310-pounds, which isn’t the size that you’re looking for in a dominant rusher off that edge.
To his credit, however, Edwards knew that he needed to fix that issue and he did. Because of his awareness to realize that he needed to change, the results so far in his sophomore season are beginning to show.
Now, the defensive end is listed around 277-pounds and you can see the difference. He’s moving around 10 times better than he was last year and he’s become an assassin-like force for new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt off that edge. He can seemingly do everything you ask of him, and then some.
Take his touchdown against Clemson back on Oct. 19, for example. Now, you tell me if the work he put in the offseason didn’t pay off:
In 2013 so far, he has 13 total tackles and registered his first sack of the season this past Saturday against Miami. A sack in which he violently took Hurricanes QB Stephen Morris down like a rag doll.
So, next time you’re watching Florida State, yes, I want you to keep your eyes on how well Jameis is performing. It’s impossible not to.
But, make sure that you take the time to watch #15 when the Seminoles’ defense takes the field and appreciate the progress he’s made this season. Because, remember, #5 wasn’t #1 in the 2012 recruiting class–#15 was.