Originally created 02/03/05

Seminoles sign another talented recruiting class



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Bobby Bowden has two established tailbacks on his Florida State roster, and now the state's best high school runner is coming to join that group.

Running back Antone Smith of Pahokee High signed with the Seminoles on Wednesday, topping a cornerback- and receiver-heavy class of 22 recruits that Bowden hopes will recharge his proud program.

Smith averaged 11.1 yards per carry and ran for 44 touchdowns last season, leading his team to a second straight Class 2B state title. Bowden thought Smith may choose Miami - but was thrilled to be wrong.

"You're going to get some of them and you're going to lose some of them," said Bowden, who now has a stable of tailbacks that include Smith, Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington. "You just hope you get your share and today I thought we did."

Smith is Pahokee's second recipient of the state's "Mr. Football" award, and like the first one, he's headed to play college ball in Tallahassee. Anquan Boldin won the state's top prep football honor in 1998, then starred at Florida State and is now with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.

Another explosive offensive standout joined the class; highly touted receiver Fred Rouse of Tallahassee Lincoln signed his letter Wednesday, in a bit of a surprising move. Rouse - who's among several signees yet to qualify academically - had planned to wait at least a few more days to make his decision.

Smith and Rouse were both Parade All-Americans for the 2004 season, as was another signee - linebacker Geno Hayes of Madison County High.

The other wideouts recruited to shore up an offense that put up the school's fewest points in a quarter century last season are Greg Carr from North Marion High School, Richard Goodman from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale and Rod Owens of Jacksonville Wolfson.

Last year's top three wideouts, Chauncey Stovall, Craphonso Thorpe and Dominic Robinson, have completed their eligibility.

Florida State did not sign any offensive linemen, nor did it land a quarterback - leaving rising junior Wyatt Sexton as the man to beat. Bowden landed two of the state's best quarterbacks last year, Drew Weatherford, who played one down, and Xavier Lee, who redshirted.

Defensively, the Seminoles recruited from New Jersey to Texas.

Cornerback Michael Ray Garvin from Ramsey, N.J., and defensive ends Everette Brown from in Wilson N.C. and Justin Mincey from Folkston, Ga. are being looked to for immediate help.

Some of the home grown talent included Hayes, linebacker/defensive end Neefy Moffett of Palm Bay and defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart of Lakeland.

In all, Florida State stayed instate for 13 players and went outside for nine others, including three from Georgia and two each from Texas and North Carolina - which yielded linebacker Derek Nicholson, younger brother of present Seminole star A.J. Nicholson.

"The quality in this group may be as good as any of them," said Bowden, who will turn 76 next season - his 30th at Florida State.

It was 20 years ago that Bowden signed the class that set up an unprecedented run of success.

The 1985 class of 29 players included Deion Sanders, Sammie Smith, Odell Haggins, All-American center Michael Tanks and quarterbacks Peter Tom Willis and Chip Ferguson, offensive tackle Pat Tomberlin and defensive back Dedrick Dodge.

Two years later the Seminoles went 11-1, the first of 14 straight season with 10 or more victories and a Top 5 ranking at season's end, and two national titles. But the Seminoles have won the Atlantic Coast Conference title only once in the last three years and are 36-15 over the past four seasons, playing in one BCS bowl game.