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February 1, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Tallahassee, Florida

COACH FISHER: The linemen, we wouldn't take one, maybe two if it's the right situation. We're probably going to just take one in that scenario. Hit all of our needs across the board defensively with ends, even with linemen, linebackers, secondary guys, offense, receivers, two quarterbacks, three great backs. Some other guys in that class, in that position too. Tight ends.

So very diverse class, very good class. Exactly the things we need. Hopefully, we still have another opportunity or so the rest of the day. So we'll see how that goes. But very happy with where we're at and what's going on.

I think there's some great young players in here. We've got seven of them in already with Cam Akers, Cyrus Fagan, Hockman, Kaindoh, McKitty, Samuels, and Thomas, which gives them a great jump as far as going into spring, adding depth, and letting those guys get situated in our systems early and our workout routines and how that goes.

Also very happy with the rest of the guys -- James Blackman, DeCalon Brooks, Cory Durden, Laborn, Lawson, Marshall, D.J. Matthews, Hamsah, Ja'Len Parks, Brady Scott, Cameron Terry, Leonard Warner, Zaquandre White, and Ontaria Wilson. It's a great group. A lot of size, a lot of range, a lot of athleticism.

Extremely athletic. Probably as many high 36 to 44-inch verticals maybe we've have in the class yet. So one of the more athletic classes we've ever had as far as that goes. Good speed, but a lot of length and range, which is very exciting in that regard. Hopefully, it will turn out. We'll find out in a year or two if they're really -- can't force guys to play. Some will play this year. Some won't.

And we'll find out in about two years if our projections on guys are really good and if they're helping with their class.

Q. Jimbo, is there a percentage to start off with [indiscernible] when you said the number of guys that you want to hit in the class?
COACH FISHER: You want to hit them all. We've been very fortunate hitting a lot of guys in our classes. But if you hit in the 75 to 80 percent range, that's extremely, extremely high. I mean, you know, people don't want to realize that, but that's the truth when you really hit that. We have been hitting in those regards. So we'll wait and see.

Q. Jimbo, everybody says it's hard to get two great running backs in the same class or even three. How are you guys able to keep all those guys?
COACH FISHER: Well, just honest. Listen, backs realize that there's different roles. You can play two at a time. And the way you -- when you're in a split back formation, you have a true fullback. But those guys are like having two tailbacks, which is a very dynamic thing to do. Guys can split out and be receivers and catch bubble screens and routes down the field and do those kinds of things. All those guys have those kinds of qualities.

Also at running back, you only have so many wrecks in your body, and learning to diversify that. This year was probably more so than I've ever done as far as numbers of carries to a back, but I thought we had an exceptional one, and it was just the way this season went, and Dalvin was playing really well.

We usually diversify that. Back when we had James and Carlos and Freeman, and then we had Dalvin in that mix, and we always had a large rotation of backs. They see it being used, and those guys are making it in the league.

Q. Doesn't that set off their competitiveness?
COACH FISHER: Listen, great players don't care. I've never been around a great player that I've ever recruited that ever worried about the depth because they know they're great players and they know they're going to play. Those guys, they go take care of their business, they're going to play. So they don't worry about it.

Q. Jimbo, what's the dynamic like when you're recruiting a legacy like Brooks and Samuels? Is it you go in thinking, all right, they're ours?
COACH FISHER: No, you never do. You can't do that. I'm going to tell you what. It's disrespectful. I would never expect -- those kids see through it. It's not -- just because of what their dad's done here and they were all great players here -- and I wouldn't recruit them just because they're a legacy. I think that's disrespectful that way too because, if we don't think that's a guy that can help our program, you only hurt that young man.

These guys, I thought, on their own accord are guys that can help us win football games and they can have great futures here. That's why we recruited them, and we recruit them just as hard or harder than we do anybody else.

Q. There's so much emphasis on this day or Signing Day. The way recruiting is year round, does it feel different than it did 10 or 15 years ago?
COACH FISHER: No doubt. There's not as many -- as I said today, today was probably the least number of guys that were the drama of National Signing Day as I can remember, and I think it's only going to -- with an early signing period coming probably, it's even going to dwindle less and less, in my opinion, as it comes on and flips and flops.

But it is -- a year round cycle, it's taken some of the -- you kind of got most of your hay in the barn for that sake and before it comes Signing Day.

Q. Do you prefer it this way?
COACH FISHER: Yes, I really do. That way you know what you got.

Q. Jimbo, with the early signing period starting next year, do you feel this is the last true Signing Day?
COACH FISHER: No, you're still going to have guys on Signing Day. I still think we screwed up Signing Day. I still think it should have been this summer. I don't think being in December and whenever they want to do it is the right way to do it. That's just my opinion on it.

Q. Jimbo, with the early enrollees, could you talk a little bit about how they made it?
COACH FISHER: Been very lucky. They fit right in. Look like the guys that have been here already. Those guys are adjusting and going to classes and all that stuff and getting acclimated to workouts. I've started with guys adopting them in, and players all say they like them. They fit right in. They look like they definitely belong here, that's for sure.

Q. Do you expect they'll all be available for spring practice?
COACH FISHER: No doubt. They're all going through the spring.

Q. A lot of those guys played positions where you lost some key guys last year at running back, defensive end, corner. How do you expect -- someone's not necessarily going to be a Marcus or a Dalvin, but how is it to get top level talent in the system?
COACH FISHER: Like you say, whether they end up starting or not, they could start, but then they've got a spring in, got a summer in, and you're talking about they could be a quality backup and ready to take 20 snaps the opening game and grow in their role. Or they may start, you never know. Those are -- to me, that's really big. It really is.

Q. Jimbo, you went and got Leonard Warner earlier in the day. Just what does he bring to your defense?
COACH FISHER: Size, athleticism, range, intelligence. See, that's a guy we've been in battle with the whole time. It was us, Georgia, Alabama, all kinds of schools. It was a thing that we knew it was going to go down to the end. We felt all along that we had one heck of a shot to get him. I just knew he would be a guy that would go through the process of looking strategically at everything he had to look at before he made a decision.

But we're ecstatic to have him. He's got range, size, intelligence, an inside guy that can rush outside. Plays the pass very well. Very good ball skills. Runs the track. Runs the 400 meters on the track team at 228 pounds. Very athletic and long, rangy guy.

Q. Jimbo, your philosophy on recruiting quarterbacks. This is at least the second time that you brought in two in one class. Is that ideal? Would you rather it be one per class?
COACH FISHER: I don't think there's anything. You get the guys you want, the guys you think can play, and let them compete. I don't buy into one or two. It's worked out different places both ways. I think both these guys are very dynamic. They're very strong in knowledge, arm talent, intelligence, decision-making. They're accurate. They have a chance to be really, really good players.

Q. With you, is it different, though, recruiting quarterbacks? Do you want to have more one-on-one talks with them?
COACH FISHER: Well, you do because you're talking about the guy who's pulling the pin and touching the ball on every play. You want to know his DNA and how he thinks as much as you possibly can. That's why the thing that hurts me is they have to come to me a lot because I can't go out and see those guys in the spring and the different things that go on.

But get them in camp and get around them, which we were able to do with both these guys, knowing who they are, what they are, and got them here for a lot of talks -- I'm going to tell you, really intelligent football instincts and knowledge of the game both of them have and pick things up when they were here. When you sit down and talk to them -- defensively, schematics, fundamentals -- picked things up extremely well. Learned very easily.

Q. The two kids out of Georgia, how did they -- it seemed like they slipped through the cracks a little bit in recruiting.
COACH FISHER: How did Cam Irving slip through crack? Ended up at Georgia Southern? How did Xavier Rhodes slip through the crack? Guys do it. You get in the small towns, it's hard access. People don't work sometimes. People get lazy.

These guys here, I mean, we saw Terry first and were -- this guy is 6'3". He's going to be 220 pounds before it's over with. He's 199 to 202 right now, playing basketball, going to be a big -- I mean, going to be a big guy. He can really run, ball skills, routes, toughness. And then all of a sudden, we saw Terry -- I mean, we saw him on the film and said, man, who's this guy? He was playing basketball. We went back and researched him and watched him two or three times. This guy's got a tremendous future.

This goes back to guys, we'll see how he pans out, but I think he's got -- found Cory West that way, found Randall Gay that way, found Travis Daniels that way, guys that no one recruited. I saw West two weeks before signing he was going to Southern Miss, the only offer he had. There's guys out there if you just lift up the rocks and study.

You don't always go looking for a gem. They just happen to be there, and we took them. I think these guys have a tremendous, tremendous future.

Q. And other schools try to get in late?
COACH FISHER: After we are. Georgia, Alabama, everybody in the world got in. I said, that's the way it always goes because in the world of social media, once it starts, it goes, you know what I'm saying? Once one big time school goes, it happens.

Q. Coach, when you or your assistant find those kinds of players, how do you guys go about bringing them to the board and putting them up to discussion? Hey, I found this player.
COACH FISHER: Come tell me. Put the film on. Eye in the sky don't lie. Find out everything we can. See if they have the skills on film. Watch them. Have you seen him play? Have you seen him practice? Talk to people and start the whole process.

Q. Do you guys ever ask questions like how come people haven't really found you yet?
COACH FISHER: I don't care.

Q. Is that kind of alarming at first?
COACH FISHER: Unh-unh. That's the other people's problem. That ain't the kid's problem, you know what I'm saying? Everybody wants -- what did they do wrong? They've been playing where they've been all the time. We've had quite a few guys that we've been very fortunate, having guys -- Devonta Freeman, when we signed Devonta, when we recruited him, he was a zero start. You realize that? Never started a game, and he was going to be a senior in high school. Xavier Rhodes, three start. Cam Erving wasn't even on the board. He was a zero start. Ontaria, zero -- that happens, man.

If I have to wait until somebody else to tell me he's a player, then I need to get out of the business.

Q. Is that rewarding or exciting when you put in a tape the first time you see a guy that somebody didn't notice?
COACH FISHER: I don't know if it's exciting, but I think for the kid it is at the end of the day. You check out all the things that go with him. You don't go trying to do that. It's not an avenue -- let's go look and find out all these gems. I've done a couple of them. When you start going at it, then you start reaching. Listen, the guy is either good enough or he isn't. We have to evaluate and judge when we see the film.

Q. When you have these guys that have gone under the radar, what's it like to get in their head and see what it's like? How they approach things? I'm sure they do have a chip on their shoulder.
COACH FISHER: No doubt. They have something to prove, and they want to work at it. To me, that's the key. At the end of the day, talent level is all going to equal out. It's the guys who want to work, who want to grind, who want to be driven and do the things that other guys don't want to do. Those are the guys that make it. Sometimes those guys do a great job of it, and we've been fortunate. Sometimes they don't work out, but for the most part, we've been very fortunate in that regard.

Q. With recruitment in general, how hard is it if you get a kid out of state?
COACH FISHER: When you get great players out of state, man, you're at the mercy of everything around. Because you're -- as I say, you're the foreigner. You're the stepchild, as they say, coming into that scenario because you don't know. You don't have the background. You don't have the lay of the land. You don't have all the things that go with it.

National brand name, consistency of program, success rate, graduation rates, personalities of your team -- all those things carry those factors. We're very fortunate to have our staff. Jay and Brew and those guys did a great job as a staff recruiting the heck out of them.

Q. D.J. Matthews committed real early, then it seemed like he visited a couple of schools. Was he always telling you guys I'm coming?
COACH FISHER: You've got to understand something. When guys commit early, all of y'all quit talking about them. All the writers, you quit writing about them. So what does everybody in the world want? What's everybody in the world want? Attention. Everybody in the world wants attention. They want to be special. When they commit, they're not -- there's no story for you all. So you quit writing about them. So how are they going to get your attention? I'm going to come back out and open recruiting. So they come back out and get attention.

That's what happens. He was very honest. He said, I'm going to take some trips. It makes you nervous. That's parts of it. Sometimes when guys commit early, they realize, oh, wait a minute. The limelight's over with, and they jump back on it. That's not always the case with him. I'm not saying that's him, but that's happened with a lot of guys.

Q. He's a pretty special guy?
COACH FISHER: He's really good, and he can get open. He's dynamic. He's smart. As a returner in the slot, but he's got enough juice to go outside. Even though he's a slider guy, if you're going to go outside, to get special speed at that side, he's got that.

Q. With the lack of numbers y'all have at wide receiver, how much of an impact do you think Akers will have?
COACH FISHER: We'll see. I don't know. It's up to him. If he's good enough, the best players will play. He'll have an opportunity.

Q. Remember what we saw with Derrick Nnadi last year, suffered with injuries and kind of just held him back. When he was suddenly healthy, you saw him pushing. How important is it to have such a big standout player there up the middle?
COACH FISHER: Anything. It's like in baseball, you know, when you have a great center in basketball, it's fun to go play defense. Race around the goal. You got a great nose guard, stop the run, push the pocket. Baseball, you got a great shortstop, second baseman, centerfielder, catcher. It's fun to play. You've got to be strong up the middle. You've got to. Everything starts inside out. You've got that push.

The people that now have to double, you now become one player better across the board. Guys you can't solo block in the middle of the attack on things. It's a huge part.

Q. When you guys are going through all this recruiting through months and months, and not even months and years, early in high school, is it rewarding when the kids sign on the dotted line?
COACH FISHER: I don't know if it's rewarding or relieving. It's relief it's over with and start again. It is. It's a culmination of sometimes three, four, five years of work. Sometimes it's a year, but there's a big lead-up to that. It's like a project, something you think about, something you worked on for three years, and all of a sudden, you got right to the end, and it fell apart. Or you hit it, and it is, it's very rewarding.

But at the same time, you got to turn around and do it again. You can't take it personal. You're not going to win them all. Nobody ever has. Nobody ever will.

Q. Derrick Brooks is one of the best that ever played. His son, there's going to be some expectations when you're Derrick Brooks' son playing at Florida State. Does he have the kind of mindset that can handle that?
COACH FISHER: We'll find out. It's not going to be from me. DeCalon is his own person. I don't want to judge him that way. That's why I never compare players. It's unfair for people to think that. I hope they don't. But human nature may make you do it, but at the same time, let DeCalon be DeCalon. Let him use his own skill set to be his own player.

If we didn't think he could be a huge part of our program and really contribute, we wouldn't have recruited him. He's going to be an outstanding player, and we think he can really, really help us.

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