It's hard to believe that Florida State has not landed a prospect from Tallahassee since 2010 - the year they signed Clint Trickett from North Florida Christian. That drought came to an end on Wednesday afternoon when Rivals250 outside linebacker Jacob Pugh from Godby picked FSU over Florida and Alabama.
Just a year ago, Pugh seemed more focused on the SEC - in particular Florida Gators. However, after FSU hired former Alabama defensive backs coach Jeremy Pruitt as its new defensive coordinator, everything changed. Pugh made countless visits to FSU, bonded with the staff and grew close a lot of the players.
While Pruitt played a role into the recruitment, so did Charles Kelly and Sal Sunseri. Pugh liked the staff's plan to use him as a mixture of a defensive end and linebacker. He would be able to showcase his excellent pass rushing abilities on certain downs, but also stretch the field defensively with his speed from sideline to sideline.
Godby head coach Ronnie Cottrell had nothing but high praise for Pugh, who transfered two years ago from Jefferson County where he won a state title. Back then, Pugh wasn't the complete player he is today and Cottrell talks about that maturity and understanding of the game.
"Jake is just so versatile with our defense. He's a great pass rusher, but he's always had that. He's also one of our hardest hitters and has great instincts to the football," Cotrell said. "You don't find too many players that are as fluid, quick and naturally gifted as Jake is as a linebacker. He's a pretty special kid."
The Cougars will continue to use Pugh as a rushing defensive end in 4-3 situations and as that explosive pass rushing end as well. But Cotrell also plans to use Pugh on the offensive side of the ball at tight end because of his versatility, speed and athletic ability.
"Jake has added about 15 pounds and gotten a lot stronger this year and has done a very good job at fighting off blocks. That's an area I believe he's improved on a lot," said Cottrell.
What does this mean for FSU
The big question is what's next for the Seminoles now that they have three linebacker commitments for the 2014 class. Keep in mind the 'Noles signed four linebackers in their 2013 recruiting class. Are they done at the position?
That's an interesting question to answer at this stage, but the most realistic answer would be more than likely Pugh will be the final linebacker commitment for this class. However, FSU will still keep an eye on other targets. But at this stage, we have been told to not count on that happening.
If FSU did consider other linebackers, who is left on the board? The first is Rivals250 linebacker Petera Wilson from Memphis, Tenn., who will camp at Florida State this June. He has been linked to Tennessee and Arkansas. However, the connection has been getting stronger with FSU and the interest seems legit. Wilson can play the Mike position or outside linebacker, where most schools like him.
Also watch for Harold Landry from North Carolina. He is a very underrated, but a highly regarded three-star prospect that the staff is high on after watching his film. Much like Pugh, Landry can be used as a pass rusher and outside linebacker. That is what FSU looks for in its linebackers - versatility, much like how Alabama built their defense at the linebacker position.
There are also other targets on the radar such as Kevin Mouhon, a lean to Tennessee. He is a teammate of Myles Autry and Lorenzo Carter, two major FSU targets. Outside linebacker Rashaan Evan from Auburn, ALa. is another guy to watch. He is being recruited by Jeremy Pruitt. Evans visited FSU earlier this spring, but most believe Auburn could be tough to beat. Chris Register and Richard Yeargin, are also prospects to watch.
Scouting report on Pugh
Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst Kynon Codrington attended the Florida Class 4A State Championship last December between Godby and Immokalee. He saw Pugh finish with six tackles, three sacks, three quarterback hurries - one resulting in a late interception to lead the Cougars in a 21-20 win over the Indians.
"He (Pugh) was very dominant in the state championships. He is very quick to the football in reading the play, but also an exceptional pass rushing linebacker if you need that," Codrington said. "He's a guy that I think has a good chance at moving up even higher (in the rankings) for the summer with more people getting a chance to see him.
Codrington feels that Pugh could end up having a big impact at Florida State early on because of his versatility.
"What I like about him is he can hurt you in every possible way for a defense. In pass coverage, he has excellent speed and quickness for a linebacker. He's also a very good pass rusher, getting off the line quickly. Then at linebacker, he's also exceptional with his instincts to the football and is just like a blur on the field with how he can close on the football.
"Out of all the FSU linebacker commits, I think he could have the biggest impact because he can hurt you in so many ways. Kain Daub is another excellent pick up too, so it's a great problem to have for FSU. I spoke with a coach that played against Jacob. He told me he's a kid that can do everything you ask and more as a linebacker and that we actually have him a little underrated in his opinion. So that's pretty high praise coming from an opponent," Codrington said.
Even as a sophomore at Jefferson County, Codrington had an idea that Pugh could develop into a top prospect.
"His ability to get to the quarterback has always been a strength because of how he quick he gets off the line of scrimmage and his downhill ability when chasing defenders down," Codrington said. "As a player, he's gotten better overall as a linebacker with his instincts and covering out of the backfield. Rushing the passer, instincts and covering running backs is everything you can ask for. I think he will fit in very well there at FSU."
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