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ESPN’s football bracket has Alabama beating FSU for championship

Consider it a wee bit of fun here in March.

The folks at ESPN, not content to just fill out their basketball brackets, decided to also fill out a 64-team college football bracket for the fall.

Of course, the college football playoffs are only four teams deep, so there is quite a bit of whimsy in the brackets. But they’re interesting to discuss.

For instance, ESPN had Nick Saban’s Alabama team beating Jimbo Fisher’s FSU squad, 35-31, for the national title. It would be a rematch of the season’s opening game when the schools meet in Atlanta. The two got to the title game when FSU beat USC and Alabama beat Michigan.

The University of Miami was strong in the Midwest Regional, beating BYU and Duke. The Hurricanes lost to Ohio State in the regional semifinals.

FSU beat Minnesota, Northwestern, Georgia and Washington State.

In the South Regional, Florida beat Utah and TCU before falling to Alabama in the regional semifinals.

In the West, South Florida beat Louisville before falling to Michigan in the second round.

Quick observation: There are too many teams and too many rounds. But for the sake of conversation, ESPN could do a lot worse.

Deondre Francois now in charge of the FSU football team

In Year Two, the kid has grown up. This FSU offense now belongs to quarterback Deondre Francois.

Now, we see how far he can carry it.

Francois, who starred as a redshirt freshman a year ago, is now the Seminoles’ undisputed leader. With a schedule that includes Alabama, Clemson, Miami and Florida, the expectations are on his shoulder.

“He’s been out there when the scoreboard mattered,” coach Jimbo Fisher told the Orlando Sentinel. “He’s been in big games, almost four or five game-winning drives last year if we could pull a couple of them off.

“He put us in good position to win a lot of games, and he did it under big time situations, so that always gives you confidence.”

As a freshman, Francois proved he had enough of an arm. He also showed he could stand up the physical abuse that comes with the job.

I’m not out here competing with anybody else, but I’m competing with myself internally,” Francois said. “If I’m tired, I have to keep going. The next ball has to be perfect. I can’t have any mistakes.

“I’m just competing to make myself better this spring than last spring.”

Francois led a comeback win against Ole Miss, then led scoring drives to beat Miami, N.C. State and Michigan.

Still, last year, FSU’s leader was running back Dalvin Cook. That’s no more.

“I’m going to miss Dalvin, but he reached his peak and had to go,” Francois said. “A lot of the young guys are learning fast, so it’s going to be fun.”

FSU’s Derrick Nnadi assumes leadership role for Seminole team

It’s a transitory thing, leadership.

One day, you’re looking around the huddle, and other guys are pointing out the direction.

The next day, the rest of the huddle is looking at you, and it’s up to you to plot the course.

In college football, where the faces change so often, it’s especially true.

And so has learned Derrick Nnadi, leader of the FSU Seminoles.

“I’ve probably said this a lot before,” Nnadi told the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m not one who’s like ‘I’m going to be a leader.’ I just want to make sure what I’m doing is right.

“But as I’m getting older, being a senior, I have to take certain types of responsibilities. I have to do it. If it’s for the good of the team, I’m not going to deny it.”

Oh, the Seminoles need it. From last year’s team, they lost Dalvin Cook and DeMarcus Walker.

Last year, FSU lost two of its first five games, as Nnadi was hampered by a bad ankle. But the Seminoles won seven of their last eight games.

“(I’m) just trying to give them some sort of motivation in drills even though I don’t talk that much,” Nnadi said. “Every now and them, I’ll be like ‘come on bro, you’ve got this. Come on, just keep it moving.’ Or just leading by example.

“I just want to prove I’ve gotten better year in and year out, and overall just be an elite tackle,” Nnadi said.

Colors represent effort level for the Florida State football team

The colors say it all at the FSU spring practice these days.

It isn’t always good, either.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has assigned three different colored jerseys for his players during spring drills. The colors signify the type of effort given by the players.

Those in garnet practice jerseys, the best level, are presented to Seminole players who give “championship effort.”

White jerseys? Those are for those who give average effort.

And the orange jerseys? Those are reserved for players who aren’t given any effort at all. “Ridiculous,” Fisher says of the orange.

Why Orange? Rivals Florida, Miami and Clemson all wear orange.

“That’s not always a good color around here, is it?” Fisher told the Orlando Sentinel.

By the end of the winter, “85 to 90 percent” of the players were wearing garnet jerseys, and no players were wearing the orange ones.

“It means we’ve got a long way to go,” Fisher said with a smile.

The jerseys were a daily routine for the team.

“The fine line between winning and losing is always those inches,” Fisher said. “That’s what we’ve tried to really emphasize. We rated them every day.”

The jersey decision was one made by the coaches, Fisher said. It’s something he said he’s done in past offseason camps.

“Back in the day, they told you when you were wrong, showed you when you were wrong. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Fisher said. “Educate the kids on the effort, the discipline, the toughness, all the things with what you want to do and how we want it done. Define it.”

“I’ve done it in the past,” he said. “I’ve done it with different teams I’ve been on and different schools I’ve been at and it was very helpful.

“Guys are here for business. They understand they can be friends, on the field they want (to know) who you can count on. I want to show the guys on the field who you can count on every play. I thought (the jerseys) were very helpful and educational.”

The message of accountability is spreading throughout the team, Fisher said. Even returning starters are on notice.

“Sometimes the worst springs I’ve been a part of in the past, we had a lot of guys back,” Fisher said. “They all think they can take it off. We’re going to make sure we get better in every aspect.”

FSU has tough schedule to contend with in 2017 football season

If FSU is indeed going back to the college football playoffs this season, it will have to walk across broken glass to get there.

According to Bleacherreport.com, the Seminoles will play the fifth-toughest schedule in America in 2017, including an opening game against Alabama in Atlanta.

Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles also play Miami, at Clemson, Florida and Louisville (with Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.) Even with 16 returning starters and quarterback Deondre Francois, that’s tough duty.

Florida isn’t far behind. The Gators play the 7th-hardest schedule, starting with a neutral site game against Michigan. They play Tennessee, LSU and Georgia.

According the report, Michigan will play the toughest schedule in America, followed by Alabama, Ohio State and Rutgers.

How fast can FSU’s fabulous freshmen contribute to running game?

The question isn’t how good they are going to be someday. Heck, “someday” seems assured.

For FSU, the question is how good are their talented freshman running backs going to be this year. Not that there is any hurry, right?

Well, there kind of is. The Seminoles, and coach Jimbo Fisher,  open their season next year against Alabama (Sept. 2 in Atlanta), and the No. 1 priority is to replace dazzling running back Dalvin Cook. Oh, the Seminoles have some talented backs on campus, but are will they be ready right out of the gate?

Oh, FSU has incumbent backs: Junior Jacques Patrick, senior Ryan Green and sophomore Amir Rasul. Patrick has been in the FSU rotation (he had 350 yards rushing a year ago). But neither Green nor Rasul has been seen a lot.

Besides, the world seems to be all atwitter over the fabulous freshmen: Cam Akers, Khalan Laborn and Zachandre White, who come from Mississippi, Virginia and Florida. Can those three make an impact before the Seminoles face the Tide?

With Patrick getting the tough yards, the call seems to be for a home run hitter. Start with Akers, who rushed for 2,108 yards and a staggering 34 touchdowns. He’s shifting from quarterback, where he played in high school, but he figures to be an immediate contender for playing time.

Don’t count out Laborn, either. He rushed for 1,485 yards and 19 touchdowns, and he’s known for having an amazing burst.

Then there is White, who had 779 yards and six scores. He’s known as a tackle breaker, which means he would have to get his snaps from Patrick.

Together, they seem to have FSU poised for a very good running game. The only question is how long it will take.

FSU finishes its recruiting by signing another Top 10 player

A good day got even better for the FSU Seminoles Wednesday.

The Seminoles signed highly regarded defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.

Wilson had been rated as the No. 6 player in the country and the No.1 defensive tackle. His signing improved FSU’s standings to fourth in the ESPN rankings, although the Seminoles were still sixth in the 247sports.com rankings.

Wilson’s signing gives FSU three players in the top 10. No other team had more than two.

FSU lands two of nation’s top 10 players in recruiting class

The FSU Seminoles can claim a successful recruiting season after landing two of the nation’s top 10 products.

FSU has already enrolled running back Cam Akers, the nation’s second-ranked prospect, and defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, a defensive end.

The Seminoles had tried to bolster their class on signing day with sixth ranked Marvin Wilson, but there was no word by mid-day. Wilson is being recruited by six school.

FSU did miss out on linebacker Levi Jones, who spurned both FSU and Florida and signed with Southern Cal.

FSU has also replenished positions of need with depth in running backs Khalan Laborn and Zaquandre White, four-star safeties Cyrus Fagan and Hamsah Nasirildeen, and four-star quarterbacks James Blackman and Bailey Hockman. Four-star receiver D.J. Matthews is also considered the nation’s best slot receiver.

According to 247sports.com, it was the nation’s top five recruiting class for coach Jimbo Fisher.

FSU poised to add even more stars to impressive recruiting class

One day before national signing day, and the FSU Seminoles remain solidly in fifth place in the 247sports.com’s rankings.

The Seminoles have 21 recruits, with five slots left open. FSU is hoping to add another receiver, a defensive end, a defensive tackle, a linebacker and a safety. The Seminoles already have seven recruits enrolled, including much discussed running back Cam Akers.

In all, it looks like another solid class for coach Jimbo Fisher.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the Seminoles’ best chances are with five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and four-star linebacker Levi Jones.

Elsewhere in the state, 247sports.com doesn’t like USF’s recruiting at all. It has the school ranked No. 118. That means new coach Charlie Strong will have to finish, well, strong.

Other state schools include Miami (No. 16), Florida (21), UCF (66), FIU (79) and FAU (79).

FSU president says he’s ‘deeply concerned’ about Donald Trump travel ban

John Thrasher, the former Republican lawmaker turned college president, released a statement Sunday saying Florida State University is “deeply concerned” about President Donald Trump‘s immigration order.

The order Trump issued Friday includes a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program.

The travel ban is causing confusion and uncertainty at universities nationwide, Thrasher says, causing disruption and worry among students, researchers, faculty and staff who are citizens of the countries involved in the ban, as well as their colleagues and friends.

While the impact of the order is reviewed and better understood, Thrasher and FSU are advising members of the FSU community who are from the affected countries to not make any plans to leave the U.S.

On Saturday night, a federal judge issued an emergency order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people subject to the travel ban. The judge said travelers who had been detained had a strong argument that their legal rights had been violated.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement early Sunday that said the court ruling would not affect the overall implementation of the White House order and it affected a relatively small number of travelers who were inconvenienced by security procedures upon their return. Trump’s aides insist the judgment has little impact.

Meanwhile. Thrasher said the safety and security of all FSU student is the highest priority.

In his statement, Thrasher acknowledges the valuable contribution of the scholars and students targeted by the immigration order.

“We all know that our university has long been enriched and strengthened by the cultural and intellectual diversity these scholars contribute,” Thrasher said.

A former House Speaker and chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Thrasher is a respected voice in both politics and academia. His statement is at least the second one from a Florida university addressing Trump’s travel ban. On Sunday, the University of Miami released a statement expressing support for DACA students and employees.

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