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How Much of a Factor Did James Coley's Departure Play With Matthew Thomas?


If you haven't had a chance to check out the reporting done by Manny Navarro earlier today on Booker T. Washington LB Matthew Thomas asking for his release from FSU, read it here.

One facet of Thomas' request that didn't get a lot of attention in Navarro's write-up was the departure of one of the key cogs in Thomas' recruitment to Florida State, offensive assistant James Coley.

In recruiting, you're not always recruited by your positional coach in college, oftentimes knowledge of a community or geographic area dictates which coaches will pursue which players. When Coley departed Florida State it was a coup for the University of Miami because of the strong south Florida ties the Hurricanes were gaining.

Not only did Miami get one of the best South Florida recruiters in the nation, they did it at the expense of one of their rivals. Coley was a closer at Florida State. 

You saw the first signs of the impact on National signing day when Stacy Coley (no relation)- a player many figured was destined for Tallahassee- opted to stay home and sign with the U.

James Coley also helped recruit Matthew Thomas.

Behind a strong sales pitch from the former FSU Offensive Coordinator- and coupled with the fact his brother is at FSU- Thomas made a last-minute decision to sign with the Seminoles in February.

But when he came to campus for a visit, things felt different.

"I always had [FSU] high because of the recruiting situation. Coach Coley. My brother was up there," Thomas said. "But when I got up there I saw it wasn't for me."

Translation: The person Thomas built the closest relationship with at the school was now gone and he wasn't sure he'd made the right decision. 

It was an interesting combination of factors that got the 6-3 205-pound LB to this situation. He was still undecided come national signing day but a scheduled TV appearance on ESPN had set a deadline and he had to make a call. His mother liked FSU, time was running out, so he signed.

Then he had time to think about it and the doubts started to creep in.

Now keep in mind this is still a young man, a teenager. Nobody is especially decisive at that age. But Thomas seems very certain he doesn't want to be at FSU. He told Jimbo Fisher he has no intentions to report when that day comes and he wants a full release- though at this point he has yet to hire a lawyer.

He cannot go to Miami (not that he was ever that high on the U to begin with). FSU has the right to decide whether to release him at all and also where he can transfer without penalty. He wants to go to Georgia or USC. Being that both of those schools are in other conferences in other states, that could potentially happen.

But the Seminoles aren't going to just give up without a fight either. FSU intends to try and come to South Florida to smooth things over. If anyone in their athletic department comments I'll update you with it here, but for now, this is a pretty bizarre situation and it may still get weirder.


For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

(Special Thanks to Manny Navarro for additional quotes)


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Shouldn't he sit out a year? If FSU allows this without penalty, it will set a bad precedent.


Let the kid play where he wants. His mom messed him up. Wish he would play for the U, but that's not what he wants.


I mean realy she did what any mom would do. Probably not realizing how the ncaa works when it come to signing a letter of intent and then transferring. She probably was just thinking she didn't want him sitting out of school and just chilling in Miami in the meantime because living in south florida we all no what that could turn into. I'm a Nolefan but i hope they don't hold him up or hender him from playing where he wants to play because i've seen this kind of situation blow many kids chances at playing at all or having a fair shot at becoming a professional.


The sad thing is if they do let hm out of his scholarship there will be certain conditions he'll have to adhere to. The FBS is cut throat


Its not cut throat. Its called a contract. Its a binding letter. And unless the kid is completely illiterate, it is spelled out on the LOI itself. There is an entire virdo on the NCAA website on it here. http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/nli/nli

Kids andtheir high school coaches understand exactly what it means to sign with schools, and to let a player out of a letter of intent would result in non stop recruiting - even of currrent players at current schools. It would be complete chaos in college sports. It absolutely cannot and should not occur.

Florida State should under no circumstances let him out of this letter. Its one thing if he has a family emergency, or some extreme circumstance, but not because you change your mind.

I smell the press is taking advantage of this kid and blowing this out of proportion to generate front page news.


FSU signed what 4-5 LBs in his recruiting clasee. Have another 2 or 3 committed for next year's class. Stop being greedy and release the undecisive kid.


Either way it goes it's a bad situation to be in. I'm just glad it isn't me.


I Think the kid is afraid of competing and wants the starting position given to him.


by accepting the offer it took away another player who could have come in and now signed somewhere else. its a binding contract and i am sure his brother loves it at fsu


Let the young man play where he wants. These colleges are brutal. The coaches can break contracts and go where they want!


Coaches can break their contracts, but there is a penalty to do so. Not that it's relevant to this conversation.

FSU could have awarded that scholarship to someone else. Matthew Thomas absolutely has a chance to start this year, as the word is FSU is moving to a more aggressive 3-4 scheme.

Billy Talton

Coley wasn't involved in Stacey's recruitment. Research before you write an article. Also, James Coley left a month before signing day. He didn't help to close Matt. Terrible journalism.

Patrik Nohe

"I just wasn't anxious to go up there and practice though. It didn't feel right to me. I always had them high because of the recruiting situation, Coach Coley, my brother was up there. But when I got up there I saw it wasn't for me." -Matthew Thomas

Yep, Coley had nothing to do with his commitment. It sounds like you know what you're talking about... Good journalism on your part, too.


This implies that Coley was there at the end helping to 'close' as you claim was his role for FSU. His brother also goes to the community college I here. Again, bad job.

"Behind a strong sales pitch from the former FSU Offensive Coordinator- and coupled with the fact his brother is at FSU- Thomas made a last-minute decision to sign with the Seminoles in February."

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