New kids in school

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As a smiling Devonta Freeman exited the doors of Moore Athletic Center at Doak Campbell Stadium after the Florida State Seminoles' spring game Saturday, he was swarmed by kids, some little and some big. They all wanted to see the young freshman from Miami.

He signed autographs and took pictures for about 30 minutes before quietly making way for upperclassmen such as quarterback EJ Manuel and running back Lonnie Pryor.

While Freeman had the masses occupied, defensive back Nick Waisome tried to sneak out the side door to see his former Groveland (Fla.) South Lake teammates P.J. Harris and Kris White. But as soon as one kid noticed him, the others soon followed, and he, too, would have his plans for the evening temporarily delayed.

Almost five months before the 2011 college football season officially kicks off, the Seminoles' top-ranked recruiting class of 2011 has started to arrive. Freeman led all rushers with 25 yards in Saturday's spring game, and Waisome had a game-high six tackles.

If they weren't already enrolled and playing, like offensive lineman Jordan Prestwood (Plant City, Fla./Plant City), the members of the Class of 2011 watched from the stands, cheering loudly. Former Under Armour All-American Giorgio Newberry (Fort Pierce, Fla./Central) took in the game with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central) and tight end Nick O'Leary (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer).

"It was a beautiful day, and it was just good to see the guys on the field competing," Newberry said. "It got me even more excited to get here and get started. I'm watching with Kelvin and Nick, and we're all just thinking about when we get on campus and we're able to contribute."

Watching fellow members of the Class of 2011 on the field assured Newberry that he made the right decision.

"It was a lot of fun to root the guys on that I met and bonded with during the recruiting process," Newberry said. "I was watching them, and I was watching the defensive ends because they were just flying around the ball, too. It was so much fun."

Of the 29 commitments in the class, there were 18 four-star prospects, 12 members of the ESPNU 150 and six Under Armour All-Americans.

It's a group that will have huge expectations as the Seminoles try to follow up a 10-win campaign last season that included an ACC Atlantic Division title and a victory over South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A Bowl.

Although the expectations from the fans will be high, they are no equal to the standards that coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff want the incoming players to meet.

"No doubt there are some high expectations for us," said defensive tackle Derrick Mitchell. "But along with those expectations come major responsibilities and a standard that we are going to have to meet. It's something that the coaches and the upperclassmen are going to hold us accountable for."

Mitchell, who watched the game with fellow Class of 2011 recruit and high school teammate Eric Beverly along with several other future prospects from Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast, says that the members of the class who will enroll in the summer will have to hit the ground running.

"Within hours, they are going to remind us that high school is over and to play at the level that's going to win us a championship is going to take hard work," Mitchell said. "You see how much the defensive line play has improved here, and that came from a lot of hard practices and tough lessons. And watching guys like Nick and Devonta ready to make contributions shows you the potential of this group. The reason I came here was to have the opportunity to play around other great players."

One of the earliest commitments in the class was quarterback Jacob Coker (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul's Episcopal). After numerous trips to the campus to watch games last season, the 6-foot-5, 210-pounder came to the realization that this would be the last time he would watch his future team from the stands.

"Just seeing how the quarterbacks are improving every day tells me how hard they are working, and I'm eager to have Coach Fisher and Coach [Dameyune] Craig working with me," Coker said. "Watching this team and this last recruiting class come together. It's all good things for FSU football."

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.