FSU places unofficial visits at premium

The pace of recruiting in college football undeniably has sped up.

Once a circumstance reserved for the Texas Longhorns, many major football programs find themselves with double-digit commitment lists in the spring. Which makes it tough to wait around for official visits.

The result is a dramatic increase in importance for unofficial visits and getting prospects on campus early and often. Florida State is no exception.

These recruits, though, have to find a way to get themselves to Tallahassee on their own dime. Accommodations are not made through the school like they would be as one of their five allotted officials.

Summer football camps, also classified as an unofficial visit for those who attend, are a priority.

Evaluations are done by everyone in person in their own style with position-specific drills. The latest 2014 commitments, Jake McCrary (Miami, Fla./Coral Reef) and C.J. Worton (Miami, Fla./South Dade), both camped at Florida State and ended up announcing as a direct result.

Both 2015 -- yes, 2015 -- pledges Derwin James (Auburndale, Fla./Auburndale) and DeAndre Johnson (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) verbaled while on unofficial visits.

Not only, then, is the Seminoles coaching staff able to showcase its program, facilities and academic buildings, they can gauge the interest of a recruit by having them show up.

On display inside the Moore Athletic Center at Doak Campbell Stadium are the 1993 and 1999 national trophies, two Heisman Trophies from Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke and banners from previous conference championships. Down the hall is the athletes' cafeteria, and on the other side is the training room and state-of-the-art weight room.

These things are all good for recruits to see, no question. But as they go to each place, it gives the coaches a chance to strengthen a relationship with the player. That time is extremely valuable.

The Seminoles coaching staff is known to be personable, as is head coach Jimbo Fisher. That evidence might lie in the top-five recruiting classes they've landed recently according to ESPN's rankings.

Because the NCAA restricts head coaches from going out on the road, save for their one allotted in-home visit down the stretch, these unofficials give Fisher a rare chance to make an impression on a face-to-face basis. And it gives him a chance to see if he will make an offer or not, he has said before.

In this new, sped-up atmosphere of recruiting that FSU lives in, unofficial visits and getting their top targets on campus could be arguably the most important facet of the process.