Fisher leans on summer camps for signees

Florida State's annual summer camps have been a part of a bigger trend in the Seminoles' recruiting efforts since the arrival of head coach Jimbo Fisher.

The overwhelming majority of signees over the last three seasons have taken part in, or at least attended, Fisher's drills. That is by no accident, either.

Fisher's recruiting philosophy usually mandates his own evaluation on a prospect before the green light is given. Because he can't get out on the road during the fall because of NCAA rules, these camps provide a golden opportunity.

Having his assistants match players up paints a broader and more complete picture.

"It benefits them," said Sojourn Shelton, who committed to FSU during the Seminoles' camp in June 2011. "For me, people always say I am too small or not tall enough, but when you get to camp, they can see if you can really cover or if you can really run. They can see everything for themselves. I think it gives them an extra chance to see you work some more, especially at camp, because they have their guys that they want to see. You can compare guys and put guys up against each other and it gives you a better look."

Ryan Hoefeld, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound offensive lineman out of Louisiana, provided the perfect example of this practice.

Offensive line coach Rick Trickett and the rest of the staff had seen his clips and they were genuinely interested before he arrived on campus. But they wanted to see it live and in color and have him prove it.

"They really didn't recruit me really, really hard before that," recalled Hoefeld. "I got a few letters from them saying they were interested and everything. But they wanted to see who I was on that highlight tape. I love to go at it and compete. It wasn't just a couple of plays and I was able to show my talent."

The result is an ultra-competitive atmosphere that has full scholarships hanging in the balance. Some thrive in it, others shy away from it.

But that is exactly what the coaches are looking for.

"It is definitely competitive, you know, because you have some of the top backs going head-to-head trying to impress the coaches, but I would say it is really a competitive camp overall because of all the work that you get in," said ESPN 150 running back Ryan Green, who committed to Florida State during the June session of camp.

For some prospects who already have their offers in hand, it becomes a time for them to do a little evaluating of their own.

During the process, and on the phone, coaches don't necessarily act like they will during crunch time in a rivalry game. These athletes want to see what it is really like.

If they like it, it can be a huge advantage.

"Going to Florida State, I had heard he was one of the best in the business," Hoefeld explained. "I realized that while I camped with him. That played into my decision -- that was one of the biggest factors.

"Those coaches are great coaches and they have great backgrounds. I think they are on the verge of great things and I liked that.

It's a thought shared by Green, Florida State's top running back target for the class of 2013 and at No. 34 overall the highest ranked player among Seminoles commits. It is a major reason that commitments happen at camps at universities across the country, not just in Tallahassee.

"It is the real deal," Green said without hesitation. "That is how they coach and they won't change it. You get a chance to get a sneak peak at the way that they coach."

The Seminoles will look to continue their hot streak in recruiting when Jimbo Fisher welcomes another talented group to the second and final camp session of the summer July 18-20.