CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Preseason college football polls and rankings mean little by the end of the season. Rightfully, teams earn or lose respect throughout the season and climb or fall accordingly. (Hmm. Might be a nice way to handle our political officials.)However you consider the preseason polls, though, most involved in voting take the task seriously. As West Virginia's Associated Press poll voter for 2013, I certainly do. I push aside preseason magazines and do my own research.What I found is one team that's being seriously underrated in regard to the upcoming season. And I spoke on the phone to one of the coaches of that team to verify my research.Masontown native, Glenville grad and Florida State assistant head coach Rick Trickett largely agreed with me. His Seminoles should be a force.
"I think people don't realize how many people we have," Trickett said on Wednesday.I agree. When the Atlantic Coast Conference's media poll came out this week, FSU was ranked second to Clemson in the Atlantic Division voting - by a wide margin. Much of that, I assume, is because of standout Tiger quarterback Tajh Boyd and flashy receiver Sammy Watkins.Methinks, though, they doth hype Clemson too much - and not because a year ago at this time WVU was coming off a 70-33 Orange Bowl victory over the Tigers.
Some follow the money. I follow the recruits. I follow their growth. The Seminoles have at least 10 NFL draft prospects. At least."I felt our best players last year were in our bottom two classes," Trickett said. "Now they are sophomores and juniors. The only thing we don't have is a quarterback that's taken a snap. He's got to grow up a little bit. But he has a lot of talent."That's an understatement. Trickett's son, Clint, left Florida State for WVU because of a good reason: Jameis Winston, a five-star recruit ranked by many as the nation's No. 1 2012 quarterback prospect.That's your FSU weak link.
I know, I know. How many times have you been told Florida State was going to be a national title contender over the last decade, right? How many times have they inexplicably tripped?Also, Florida State had 11 players - eleven - taken in the most recent NFL draft. That's a lot of talent to replace, especially when you consider the Seminoles will play at both Clemson and Florida this season.But the 'Noles have that talent. They have at least six players projected to be drafted in the first two rounds of upcoming NFL drafts - and that doesn't include Winston. Again, 10 overall."When we beat Notre Dame in the Champs Bowl in 2011, we had four true freshmen along the offensive line," Trickett said. "Now they're four juniors."
Many WVU fans have been yearning for Trickett to return and coach the Mountaineer offensive line since he left for Tallahassee. One Bleacher Report article criticized him, but Clarksburg native and FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher rewarded Trickett with a three-year contract extension.Anyway, I understand Florida State has fizzled many times over the last decade. But I've never pointed to them in that time frame. Fisher and company, though, had the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, according to Scout, in 2011. They had the No. 6 class, according to Rivals, in 2012.Keep in mind the Seminoles play in the ACC. Keep in mind that this year the target is on Clemson in that league.Oh, and while Trickett was on the line, yes, I did ask about his son, who is gunning to be the new Mountaineer QB."I hope Clint does well," Trickett said. "I know he really likes it there. I know he likes Dana [Holgorsen]. Clint is a little bit of a gunslinger and I think so is Dana."What I know is you won't find anyone who will compete harder than Clint. And he always wanted to play for WVU. He could have gone to a number of schools, like Auburn and Oklahoma State, but he wanted to play at West Virginia.
"We'll just put it in the Good Lord's hands."Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.