The Daily Nole

The Checklist: Updating FSU Football Recruiting Needs

Colin Abbey/FSU athletics

With the spring in the past and the start of the regular season more than three months away, Florida State football now enters one of the more underrated aspects of the offseason — summer recruiting.

This is the perfect time for prospects to visit interested schools and for those schools to try and give a unique sales pitch before fall camp starts up again a couple months later. Typically by the end of summer, you want around half your class locked in. This varies for different coaches and their styles, but at the very least, you should have momentum going into the regular season.

FSU head coach Willie Taggart and his staff are keenly aware of this. By all accounts, they have knocked it out of the park with their recruiting in the past couple of months. They’ve set themselves up nicely for a top 10 class — if not top 5 — and they’re still working on some of their top targets.

Florida State had some pressing needs for the 2019 cycle which we have compiled below. We’re keeping track of these needs and looking at how the Seminoles are addressing them so far.

As a reminder, attempting to follow recruiting day-by-day is a futile exercise. Things change very rapidly and teams adjust priorities all the time. There are bound to be de-commits and surprising developments in the coming months. Don’t take everything written here as gospel.


One Top Quarterback

Sam Howell fulfilled this objective before the summer months arrived. The Seminoles needed a top-10 quarterback after missing out on James Foster in the last cycle, so Howell’s decision to hop on board early removed one of the more pressing needs. In a year where the quarterback crop isn’t very deep, gaining a solid commitment from the sixth-ranked passer is relieving.

Howell, a 4-star prospect, is already paying dividends on the recruiting trail as well: he’s been selected to multiple camps and even convinced 5-star athlete Quavaris Crouch to visit Tallahassee. Expect him to remain a constant figure throughout the summer and into the fall.

Three Cornerbacks

Florida State’s cornerback depth isn’t as solid as some fans would believe. There’s a secure amount of top talent with Levonta Taylor, Stanford Samuels III, Carlos Becker, and Kyle Meyers. But beyond that, FSU has just three more blue-chip cornerbacks on roster. Those are true freshmen A.J. Lytton, Asante Samuel Jr., and Isaiah Bolden. There’s an obvious gap between the juniors and the incoming class, which needed to be rectified in the 2019 cycle.

FSU has already gained three commitments at the position so far. That includes 5-star Akeem Dent, 4-star Travis Jay, and 3-star Renardo Green. Dent will remain a 5-star and Jay will likely break into the top 200 category. Green might eventually become a 4-star. Either way, Florida State has secured some depth at the cornerback position that gets it back on track for easier roster maintenance.

In Progress

Three Top Offensive Linemen

The recent suspension of starting offensive tackle Josh Ball puts his future with the team in doubt. From a recruiting standpoint, that means FSU will need to once again re-stock the offensive line with talent fit for Taggart’s system. 4-star guard Dontae Lucas is the lone offensive line commit of the class to this point.

FSU is pushing hard for Will Putnam out of Tampa and Evan Neal at IMG Academy. Putnam is a guard, while Neal is currently a tackle, though Neal has been dropping a lot of weight recently and could certainly see time at guard if he’s able to get in shape for it. Other names to know include Hunter Rayburn and Adrian Medley.

Florida State doesn’t necessarily need an above-average haul on the line, but it does need quality players. Fans should expect at least three lineman for the 2019 class.

Two Good Linebackers

The current roster has plenty of linebackers that never reached their ceiling under the old staff. How these guys progress will be an interesting storyline to follow, but Florida State can’t just rely on development to plug the hole it has discovered. Right now, there is one player who is basically locked in as a starter: junior Dontavious Jackson.

That also means Florida State has a good sales pitch to prospects in the 2019 class. 4-star Jaleel McRae committed at the spring game, though he is a bit of a risk with two ACL injuries during his high school career.

The staff is keeping a close eye on how his recovery is going. In the meantime, they’re planning for 5-star Nakobe Dean to visit campus this week. What they plan to do with some other linebacker prospects remains a bit in the air.

Still Needed

Top-Tier Defensive End

One area where Jimbo Fisher’s staff never failed was recruiting elite defensive end talent. From 2010-17, the Seminoles grabbed seven defensive ends who were ranked in the top 10 of the position group. That includes five in the top 5. While a couple of those guys didn’t pan out, a majority of them became impact players at the next level. Three of them are still on the team in Brian Burns, Joshua Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson.

Burns is expected to leave after this year and there isn’t much in the way of top talent behind Kaindoh and Robinson. There’s certainly depth with Malcolm Lamar, Jamarcus Chatman, Dennis Briggs, (likely) Xavier Peters, and more. But three of the four listed would be switching positions. Florida State really wants a pure defensive end who can dominate his match-up.

The staff has put itself in good position with their crown jewel and No. 1 overall prospect Kayvon Thibodeaux out of California. He is set to officially visit campus for the Labor Day match-up against Virginia Tech. More recently, the Seminoles are having Derick Hunter visit campus this week, and they’re still squarely in the running for Lloyd Summerall. Both are 4-star prospects.

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