Count fifth-year senior quarterback EJ Manuel among those impressed early on by Florida State's incoming class of freshmen. Ranked among the top three classes in the country by most scouting agencies, the Seminoles' expected good returns on their 2012 class, but maybe not this early.
Freshman cornerback Ronald Darby drew the most effusive praise from Manuel, who thinks Darby has a shot to replace recently dismissed senior Greg Reid as the starting field corner.
"I think so," said Manuel when asked if Darby could compete for the job. "The fact he has the raw instincts and the speed to match it. You know I think that's his biggest thing and that's what you want as a corner, that's what Greg [Reid] did that was great, he was a very instinctive player. So hopefully Darby can come and contribute early. I think he can."
Darby is a 5-11, 175 lb four star recruit out of Maryland. He was considered amongst the top two or three corners in the nation by ESPN, Rivals and Scout.
Even more heralded than Darby entering Florida State though were several of the stalwart defensive linemen the Seminoles pulled last signing day, including the nation's top prospect Mario Edwards Jr.
According to Manuel, they're living up to the billing.
"[Eddie] Goldman and Mario [Edwards] are first off appealing, they're big," said Manuel. "Every ranking they got they're definitely worthy of that. Obviously here [in college] it's a different ballgame but I think they're going to be fine."
"If you just look at them you can tell they can play. But I've heard Goldman probably has the quickest first step of any D-lineman we have. That's what I was told by another D-Lineman."
That's high praise considering Florida State boasts two first-round caliber prospects in defensive ends Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner.
Edwards is a 6'4 295 lb defensive end out of Texas, he was a five star, blue-chip recruit, the son of former Seminole Mario Edwards Sr., and one of the prizes of last year's recruiting season. Eddie Goldman also came with considerable billing, hailing for Washington DC, the 6-4 325 lb tackle's frame belies his natural athleticm.
"A lot of them [don't look like freshmen] at all," said Manuel. "Chris Casher (DE, 6-4, 250, 4 star from Alabama) doesn't either, he looks like he's a junior or senior in college and could play right now. I'm looking forward to seeing how they develop."