TALLAHASSEE -- With just two days until National Signing Day, the Chopping Block is winding down a position-by-position look at the recruits who the Seminoles are trying to land. Since coaching turnover has ruled FSU's offseason, one could argue this Signing Day could be among the most pivotal in school history. It's definitely among the biggest of coach Jimbo Fisher's four-year tenure.
Currently, FSU has 18 commits. That includes two early-enrollees and offensive tackle Richy Klepal, whose scholarship is being honored, but isn't expected to play at FSU due to injury.
The loss of six assistant coaches hasn't seemed to hurt the Seminoles much on the recruiting trail this past month. They have retained most of the recruits who had been leaning their way all along. That changed a little last week.
Last Tuesday, defensive end commit Davin Bellamy and the Seminoles officially parted ways, two days after the well-regarded four-star player told recruiting writers that Georgia was his new leader after having long favored the Seminoles. The day before, long-committed offensive lineman from Prattville, Ala., Austin Golson, also announced he was backing off his commitment, although he is still interested in FSU.
Thursday night, the pre-Signing Day intrigue took another turn when Miami backed off its offer to 330-pound offensive tackle Denver Kirkland. The Booker T. Washington High product and his high school teammate linebacker Matthew Thomas are two FSU targets.
For the last four seasons, Fisher's stepped up recruiting efforts have been duly noted. The Seminoles' signing classes the last three years in particular have been among the nation's best. Two years ago, it was even considered the No. 1 group by some recruiting services.
Read on to take a look at just who FSU may be welcoming into the mix at outside linebacker next week (watch for music in the video clips below):
ENROLLED -- OLB
Freddie Stevenson, 6'1/220 ... Bartow (Bartow)
Recruited by: Odell Haggins
Enrolled: Jan. 8, 2013
Stars: Four (per 247Sports.com's composite score)
40-yard dash: 4.54 (per Rivals.com)
Other offers: Houston, Iowa State, Marshall, Florida International
Analysis: One of three early enrollees in FSU's 2013 class, Stevenson arrived on campus last month along with defensive end DeMarcus Walker and Klepal, who won't be able to play. A two-position player in high school, Stevenson brings a unique mix of versatility and athleticism to the Seminoles.
While at Bartow High, he not only played linebacker, but he was a running back, too. Quick and explosive, he wasn't scared of contact coming out of the backfield. That very same knack for wanting to be both elusive and a wrecking ball came through on one defensive return that he had on his highlight film below. The clip also shows how often he caught passes out of the backfield. Seemingly a sure-handed receiver, he may possess better hands than most young linebackers.
Speaking of linebacking, that is precisely what Stevenson will do at FSU. He already has begun participating in the Seminoles' offseason conditioning drills and will be attending spring practices starting next month. Although he had opportunities to both play inside and outside the tackle box in high school, Stevenson's role in college appears to primarily be to play on the outside.
Tackling appears to be one of his better traits. When it comes to stopping ballcarriers, he seems to consistently showcase fundamental, leg-driving, arm-wrapping tackles. Not a lot of defenders these days hit that way. Too many are fans of the big stop; the forearm shivers, the spearing, the body throw to trip up an offensive player. Very few actually wrap up and drive with the regularity that Stevenson appears to show.
One of the things he'll probably get hammered home at FSU will be the ability to stay in position. At times, he appears to get shifted just out of the right spot and it may affect tackling angles. While he's good at chasing running backs down, he also doesn't have to do that if in better pre-play position.