One of the more interesting stories to come out of the recruiting bin in the state of Florida was the decommitting of 4-star recruit James Cook, the younger brother of Dalvin Cook from Florida State. Raphielle Johnson of Fan Rag Sports, wrote about the news this week.
It was a message buried during the day on July 4th, which was likely by design to mitigate a larger media storm. Cook tweeted out the following message:
After talking it over with my family and coaches I feel like it would be in my best interest to decommit from Florida State University…Also, I would like to thank coach Jimbo Fisher and the entire coaching staff for believing in me and my athletic abilities. It’s nothing personal just business
One of the reasons that’s possible for why James Cook decided to change his mind about attending Florida State is stated by Johnson in his article on Fan Rag on Wednesday:
As for the future, which would have an even greater impact on James Cook’s chances of immediate playing time, the Seminoles added four freshmen to the running back corps this summer. That group includes a 5-star recruit in Cam Akers, who participated in spring practices and received positive reviews. Khalan Laborn, Zaquandre White and Deonte Sheffield are the other three incoming freshman running backs on the Florida State roster for the 2017 season.
Was it the issue of playing time that had Cook change his mind? Perhaps that’s one reason. Another reason will also be the unreasonable expectations. Dalvin Cook, who’s now with the Minnesota Vikings, is the most decorated RB to ever wear the Seminoles uniform. He’s the career leader in almost every single statistical category for a RB at the school, which says a lot considering who played there throughout the years. It could be that Cook will always be compared to his brother, which isn’t fair, but a natural progression. At Florida State he will always be asked about his brother at every turn. Maybe he feels the need to make a name for himself elsewhere.
It will be interesting to see where he lands. On the short list are places such as Alabama and Ohio State. Pretty sure either school would take him in a heartbeat. No one is mentioning, however the elephant in the room, which would be the University of Miami.
Being that Cook is a student at Miami Central High, playing for Canes would be a natural fit. It would also be kind of strange considering the heated rival between the Noles and the Canes. Maybe James Cook could create his own legacy at Miami. There are still some all time greats that played RB at Miami, but he wouldn’t have to follow in his footsteps of his brother. For Canes fans that’s wishful thinking. Right now Miami isn’t considered high on the list, but you can bet Mark Richt will make his pitch. Of course his reasoning at this point is all speculation. Only he knows the truth, we can only be left to guess.
No matter where James Cook goes, he still will have everyone talking about his brother, especially if Dalvin Cook does well his rookie season. FSU however would come with the most pressure, there’s no question. His quotes up until this point don’t give us any indication on where he will decide to commit to in the near future. Either way, he’s going to gain a lot of attention, now he’s deciding to not go to FSU. If he does decide to go to Miami in the end, he certainly would have been successful in dividing his household, which would make things interesting during the holidays.
FSU RB Akers announced Saturday he’s turning pro
FSU running back Cam Akers has played his final game for the Noles. The talented junior running back announced on social media Saturday afternoon that he will not play in the upcoming Sun Bowl matchup with Arizona State. He will instead prepare starting now for the NFL Draft:
Thank you Florida State 🌹 pic.twitter.com/KnS1TeNwuf
— Cam akers (@thereal_cam3) December 14, 2019
“These last three years have been incredible, and I am so appreciative that the FSU family welcomed a kid from Mississippi with open arms….. I have decided to enter the 2020 NFL draft and will not play in the Sun Bowl,” Akers post stated, in part.
Florida State was back on the practice field Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee after exam week concluded. Interim coach Odell Haggins is still overseeing the practice with newly hired head coach Mike Norvell out recruiting throughout the South.
Back to Akers, he came to the Seminoles of the highly-touted running back out of Clinton, MS, who ran for 8,000 yards in his career. However he suffered behind poor offensive line play each of the last two seasons, but still Acres finished 2019 with just over 1,100 yards rushing 14 TDs. A year ago those numbers were worse at just over 700 yards and six scores.
Originally recruited by Jimbo Fisher staff, Akers endured three offensive coordinators in three seasons, when new coach Willie Taggart took over for 2018 and hired Walt Bell for the 2018 campaign. Then Bell left to be the head coach at UMass after last season and Taggart hired Kendal Briles for this season.
The offense sputtered throughout the early season and Taggart was fired on November 3rd with three games remaining. Had Akers chosen to stay for Norvell, he’s already hired Kenny Dillingham (his former Memphis OC), which would have been a fourth coordinator.
It’s believed that Akers would likely be a possible second round pick, but he may slip to the third round or beyond because of the shaky productivity of FSU’s offense the last couple of years.
Taggart’s FAU contract details released
Former FSU head coach Willie Taggart was officially introduced as Florida Atlantic University’s new head coach on Thursday afternoon. Along with the announcement, were the details to his new contract with the Owls.
According to USA Today and the Associated Press, Taggart is receiving $750,000 a year in base pay for five years with a $3 million buyout if Taggart leaves before December of 2022.
Willie Taggart contract with FAU is for 5 years at $750,000 basic pay annually, plus $25,000 annual retention payment, so $775,000 total, per document from school
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) December 12, 2019
— Taggart will make $750,000 per year for five years. For comparison, FAU’s last head coach, Lane Kiffin, made a $950,000 base salary per year. Kiffin’s earnings went over $1 million when a home loan, given to him by FAU, was factored in.
— Taggart owes FAU $3 million if he leaves the school or is fired before Dec. 1, 2022. The buyout drops to $1 million if he leaves before Dec. 1, 2023 and $500,000 between Dec. 2, 2023-Dec. 31, 2024.
— Taggart will receive a $25,000 retention bonus every Jan. 15.
— Incentives for Taggart include $100,000 for making a New Year’s Six Bowl or a top-10 finish. Taggart earns $50,000 for a Top 25 finish or for being named the National Coach of the Year.
— Taggart receives $20,000 for making the Conference USA Championship Game and $40,000 for winning it. FAU has won two league titles in the past three years.
— Taggart earns an extra $30,000 for making a bowl game. Winning the national championship nets Taggart $500,000.
— Taggart’s buyout is offset by his base salary at FAU. FSU will save around $3 million on Taggart’s $18 million buyout.
In addition to his salary, the University is offering perks such as a car allowance, a membership at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, and the option for family to travel on team charter.
Taggart, who was fired in November, halfway into his second season at Florida State, will be replacing Lane Kiffin, who departed for Ole Miss after Saturday’s Conference USA championship game win over UAB.
The reason Florida State fans have to be so enthusiastic is the Taggart was reportedly owed over $17 million on his buyout with four years left on his deal. However, that amount has to be lessened some, if not significantly, since he’s going to immediately take another head coaching job. It’s still not clear how much FSU will still be paying Taggart.
Taggart went just 9-12 in his season and a half with the Noles, which included Florida State suffering their first losing season in over forty years in 2018, when they went 5 – 7. When 2019 began with a collapsing loss at home to Boise State and then a near loss-OT victory over UL-Monroe, it seemed the handwriting was on the wall.
The final blow in Tallahassee came when Taggart’s team looked lifeless and undisciplined in their 27-10 loss to ACC instate rival Miami Novemeber 2nd. He was dismissed the next afternoon.
Taggart came to FSU from Oregon, where he spent one year and went 7-5 before jumping, again, in December of 2017 to take the Noles job. He previously was the coach at USF for four seasons, where after starting 2-10 year one, he reversed that number in his final year (2016) to 10 – 2.
Now that his contract is signed, he’ll be fully a go to pick up recruiting in the state where he’s well known in from his previous tenures in state programs.
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