Ohio State and Florida State Are No Strangers on the Recruiting Trail

By Andrew Lind on May 24, 2017 at 5:15 am
Jalyn Holmes
Jalyn Homes

Though Florida State and Ohio State have not met on the gridiron since the 1998 Sugar Bowl — a 31-14 Seminoles win — the programs are certainly no strangers on the recruiting trail. They've gone head-to-head several times in recent years for a number of the top-rated prospects in the country, and are once again the last two programs standing when it comes to Virginia Beach, Virginia, Bishop Sullivan four-star linebacker Teradja Mitchell.

“[I'm] still torn between Florida State and Ohio State,” Mitchell recently told Eleven Warriors. “Both schools can develop me into the best person I can be. They both are championship contenders and they have great business programs.”

And he's right, as the Buckeyes and Seminoles have both won a national championship in the last five years and are among the nation's leaders in sending players to the National Football League over that same span — Florida State trails only Alabama with 35 players drafted in the last five years while Ohio State sits fifth overall with 33.

Since winning ballgames and making it to the NFL are among any prospect's top priorities, it's easy to see why the Buckeyes and Seminoles have become such familiar foes. In advance of Mitchell's announcement next Friday, we've decided to take a look at some of their recent battles on the recruiting trail.


Florida State has made Hampton Roads its second home under head coach Jimbo Fisher, which is one of the reasons the Seminoles have long been considered the favorite to land Mitchell. Fisher was the offensive coordinator when the program landed Bayside five-star quarterback E.J. Manuel in 2008, and the relationship with prospects in the Tidewater Region has only blossomed since.

Virginia Beach Ocean Lakes four-star defensive end Derrick Nnadi wasn't really interested in Ohio State until the Buckeyes hired defensive line coach Larry Johnson in January 2014. He made his first and only visit to Columbus that month, but Florida State already had an established relationship with him that was too much to overcome in an extremely short period of time.

Ohio State also had some initial interest in his teammate, five-star cornerback Levonta Taylor, but nothing materialized beyond an offer during a visit early in the process. Interestingly enough, their coach at Ocean Lakes was none other Chris Scott, who moved on to Bishop Sullivan ahead of the 2016 season.


Jalyn Holmes was thought to be a strong Florida State lean because he, too, hailed from Hampton Roads — more specifically, Norfolk's Lake Taylor. He surprised almost everyone, though, when he committed to Ohio State during a two-day visit in June 2013.

The decision itself wasn't a surprise, as news actually leaked the day prior, but Florida State was his favorite team growing up and his 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions were 100 percent in favor of the Seminoles in the days leading up to his decision. Holmes shut things down from there and his signature in February 2014 meant Urban Meyer's first win in the battle between the two programs.


A theme emerged rather quickly when it was time for Chesapeake, Virginia, Oscar Smith five-star defensive end Josh Smith to make his decision. He narrowed things down to Florida State, Ohio State and Virginia Tech, and committed to the Seminoles following his senior season.

The Buckeyes hosted Sweat for an unofficial visit in June and then again, officially, for the upset loss to Virginia Tech in September. Things reportedly went as well as they could given the circumstances, but the Seminoles and Hokies had already distanced themselves by that point in his recruitment.


Ohio State was the first reported offer for Florida four-star linebacker Sh'mar Kilby-Lane, and he actually said the Buckeyes were his dream school growing up. Many thought he would commit during his visit for the 2014 Spring Game, but he held off and pledged his services to Florida State just two months later.

How did things progress so quickly with the Seminoles? Well, the staff was able to convince him everything he could do in Columbus could also be accomplished in Tallahassee, which was a lot closer to home. The Buckeyes, most notably former defensive coordinator Luke Fickell made a late push, but another visit never came to fruition.


From the first time he stepped on campus for a one-day positional camp in June 2015, Texas five-star cornerback Jeffrey Okudah seemed destined to commit to Ohio State. It was always just a matter of when.

He visited several other schools along the way, including Florida State and Oklahoma — both of which made his final three. The Seminoles actually made a late push thanks to their winning tradition and ability to send defensive backs to the NFL, but it was Okudah's relationship with Ohio State's staff and life after football that sealed the deal for the Buckeyes.


Okudah was actually one of Ohio State's biggest assets in its pursuit of Texas five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. Hoping to add an unprecedented four of the top six recruits from the Lone Star State, the Buckeyes pitched to Wilson the idea of teaming up with Okudah and five-star linebacker Baron Browning in Columbus.

LSU was long considered the favorite in his recruitment, and many thought he would select the Tigers on Signing Day because of his relationship with head coach Ed Orgeron. But Florida State was ultimately the choice thanks, in part, to some delicious honey fried chicken.


If there's anything that has eluded Ohio State during Meyer's five seasons in Columbus, it was a game-changing, highly sought-after defensive tackle like Vincent. That's why even though the Buckeyes had long been considered the favorite for Florida five-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent, doubt began to set in following his unofficial visit to Florida State in late February.

Vincent hadn't been to Columbus in nearly a year, and that allowed the Seminoles to pull even in his recruitment. A two-day campus visit got things back on track, however, and Vincent committed to Ohio State in early April.

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