NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) A Heisman-winning redshirt freshman has dominated the headlines but Florida State wouldn't be playing for a national championship without major contributions from those who arrived before him.
Those would be coach Jimbo Fisher's first recruiting classes - the groups that laid the foundation for the rebirth of Florida State football. Fisher called the 2013 roster one of the most unselfish teams he's ever been part of, but there's still room for a friendly rivalry among teammates.
"Listen, listen. The junior class wants to say what they did - don't get me wrong, they brought a lot to this program," senior linebacker Telvin Smith said. "But everybody knows when the class of 2010 stepped on campus, Florida State was changed forever.
"Y'all remember the story of the three little pigs? One built his house of sticks. One built his house of straw and one built his house of bricks. We laid the house of bricks."
The house began with Jeff Luc as the cornerstone. He was widely considered the No. 1 middle linebacker in the nation in 2010 and his commitment opened the eyes of members of both the 2010 and 2011 recruiting classes. He eventually transferred to Cincinnati, but he had an effect on the program from a recruiting standpoint.
Florida State's 2010 class was considered a top 10 class by most major recruiting services. The Seminoles have seven starters from that class - Smith, Terrence Brooks, Christian Jones, Kenny Shaw, Chad Abram, ACC offensive lineman of the year Cameron Erving and All-America defensive back Lamarcus Joyner. Bjoern Werner, who was selected No. 24 overall in the 2013 NFL draft, was also a member of that class.
"As far as re-establishing the foundation, setting the tone, as far as leadership? The 2010 class has played a big part in that," Joyner said. "The key thing was let's bring it back. We brought it back. We're here. National championship. We didn't do it alone, we did it together.
"We changed the way people thought around here. That was our goal as players, to come in here, you know, we watched Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley, Derrick Brooks, Peter Warrick. Those guys had a vision. Those guys had a belief. I mean those guys (brought) this program to what it was. Why couldn't we do the same thing? That's the way we felt. That's the way we believed."
Joyner grinned and addressed those juniors, "We've got to put them in their place every once in a while."
That 2011 class, however, was widely considered the No. 1 recruiting class in the country and one of the best ever at Florida State.
There will be eight full-time starters from that class Monday - Josue Matias, Kelvin Benjamin, Nick O'Leary, Rashad Greene, Bobby Hart, Timmy Jernigan, Devonta Freeman and Terrance Smith.
Running back Karlos Williams was thought of by most services as a top-2 safety in 2011 and running back James Wilder was a top-5 athlete. Nile Lawrence-Stample starts when the Seminoles go with two defensive tackles and Tyler Hunter started at safety before being lost for the season with a neck injury. Cornellius Carradine, who was the No. 40 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, was also a member of that class.
"We always argue about that," Freeman said. "Christian Jones (says), `We started this. We've got the better class. ... But it's a friendly argument.
"Then we go out and practice hard. It's just a competition out there in practice and stuff."
Wilder put it simply, "They laid down the bricks for us. But we got this thing rolling."
Regardless, the combination of the two classes has the Seminoles a game away from the third national championship in school history. And the 2012 class might have something to say with a Heisman winner in Jameis Winston, Lou Groza award winner Roberto Aguayo and starters in Ronald Darby, P.J. Williams, Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman.
"What really made me start thinking Florida State was the year that Jeff Luc committed and Bobby Bowden stepped down," Jernigan said. "Jeff Luc kind of set it off for everybody. He was one of the first to commit. ... Then the next year I saw Wilder committed. That's what really triggered me and kind of made me want to be part of something special.
"It's fun to argue with those guys unless you're arguing with Telvin or Kenny. You can't win too many arguments with those two."