Jimbo Fisher: Coverage of off-field troubles turned into positive recruiting for Seminoles

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said that the media coverage the last 15 months surrounding the school's handling of former quarterback Jameis Winston's off-field troubles turned out to be beneficial in the school's recruiting efforts.

The Seminoles' 2015 class was ranked third overall Wednesday by recruiting services, behind only Southern Cal and Alabama.

Fisher and university officials were criticized for failing to discipline star athletes, namely Winston, who was accused of sexual assault in December of 2012, but was never charged. Winston also had several other missteps, including an obscene outburst on campus that resulted in his being suspended for last September's game versus Clemson.

Florida State remains under investigation by the Department of Education on how hit handles possible Title IX violations. The woman who said Winston assaulted her filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, which decided the university should be investigated for possible Title IX violations over the way it responds to sexual violence complaints.

Fisher, however, said FSU's handling of the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and a few of his teammates who showed up on police blotters turned out to be a positive on the recruiting trail.

"When the truth came out, they saw that we were right," he said. "It actually helped us.

"Parents respected that we didn't cave to pressure and we didn't cave to media and we didn't cave to public opinion," he added. "You can't worry about what other people try to bully you into doing."

Fisher described the incoming class as one of high character and strong leadership potential.

The Seminoles signed 21 players, including five five-star recruits.

Fisher signed five defensive backs, four wide receivers and four offensive linemen, a pair of linebackers and quarterbacks, and one tight end, running back, defensive end and defensive tackle.

"We had to have secondary guys," said Fisher, who lost junior corners P.J. Williams and Ron Darby early to the NFL draft.

Deondre Francois from IMG Academy in Bradenton joined De'Andre Johnson of Jacksonville as the quarterbacks in the class. Johnson was already enrolled.


Florida State

Top 25 class: Yes.

Best in class: Derwin James, DB, Haines City, Florida. Consensus five-star.

Best of the rest: Josh Sweat, DE, Chesapeake, Virginia; George Campbell, WR, Tarpon Springs, Florida; Jacques Patrick, RB, Orlando, Florida.

Late addition: Deondre Francois, QB, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida.

One that got away: Terry Beckner Jr. OT, East St. Louis, Illinois. Beckner chose Missouri.

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