The Daily Nole

FSU Football Recruiting: Thoughts On Every 2019 Early Signee

Ross Obley/FSU athletics

The Early Signing Period concluded back on Dec. 21, resulting in the signatures of 14 Florida State commits. Overall, both Early Signing Day and the general Early Signing Period were disappointing for the Seminoles, leaving them with plenty of work to do before the final National Signing Day in February.

Recruiting can get hard to follow, especially in the final stretch when the breaking news and sudden swings start to pile up. In order to help, we have listed the 14 early signees for Florida State football and give our honest thoughts about their potential at the next level. Looking at recruiting rankings is one task — but what about what their actual strengths and weaknesses are?

We are not professional scouts and we do not claim to have special insight. There is nothing personal about any of our observations. It is simply how we view them as football players and what they will bring to FSU. As with many of our other pieces, it will be interesting to look back in a few years and figure out where we were right and where we were wrong.

Dontae Lucas (4-star G)
Lucas has a real mean streak in him that was sorely missing from Florida State’s offensive line last season. A lot of things were missing of course, but attitude and run-blocking were the two most egregious. Lucas excels in both. He will win any battle in the trenches that involves him pushing the other guy out of the way, and he’ll be violent when he does it. It helps his case for early playing time that he dropped some bad weight during his senior year.

He will still need time to develop better pass-blocking technique. This will probably not be enough to keep him off the field in 2019, however. Florida State needs a guard who can remain healthy and open up holes on the inside.

Jaleel McRae (4-star LB)
The biggest question for Jaleel McRae was how he would recover from a second knee injury. Once a top-50 recruit with incredible athleticism, McRae suffered injuries that scared some teams off from heavily recruiting him. Florida State took a chance and made it clear that it still liked McRae’s potential.

It paid off. McRae is not the linebacker he used to be, and he probably won’t ever regain that athleticism he once possessed. But he is still a solid option for stuffing the run and adding some proper size (6-foot-2 and 230 pounds) to the linebacking corps. There is still an element of development needed thanks to the time lost to injury. McRae will likely redshirt in 2019 and start competing for a spot in 2020. If he stays healthy, he could become a Dontavious Jackson-type presence.

Kalen DeLoach (4-star LB)
DeLoach has adequate size (6-0 and 200 pounds) with surprising physicality. His tape is full of him laying the wood on all types of ball carriers. His play reactions are top-notch, and he makes sure that no one escapes his grasp. He has the versatility to drop back in coverage, though he looks less refined in this capacity. DeLoach’s best option for immediate impact is probably at inside linebacker. When he bulks up, he could be a stellar outside linebacker.

Curtis Fann (4-star DE)
The two types of defensive ends tend to be pass rushers or edge setters. Fann is the latter. He is a bulky strongside end who rarely gets moved from his spot on the line. Sending him after the quarterback would be a slight waste of his talent — he is the guy you charge with holding the edge and stopping any run towards his side. He has the strength and the build to do just that. Fann still has potential to turn into a solid finisher in the backfield, so he could blow up in his junior and senior years if his progression goes as planned.

Raymond Woodie III (4-star S)
We’ll put Woodie III at safety since that seems to be the initial plan. He is an impressive athlete who exhibits good burst and playmaking ability from the defensive backfield. If he continues to grow and bulks up, he might even see time at linebacker. What is obvious is that Woodie III is a very raw player who can be shaped and molded into whatever the Seminoles need him to be. That also means he will need more time to reach his ceiling. Do not expect him to play much early on, but he could come out of nowhere after a redshirt year and take a starting spot.

Maurice Goolsby (3-star WR)
It is still not a given that Goolsby makes it to campus. He had certain grade issues that scared some teams off in his recruitment. But logic would dictate that if FSU was willing to let him sign early, it likes his chances at meeting the requirements.

Goolsby is an excellent example of a good player being somewhat held back by his physical limitations. Goolsby’s skills at wide receiver might be some of the best in the nation. He can high-point the ball, has a huge catch radius, knows how to use his body for possession, and runs crisp routes. What he lacks is speed. Goolsby barely runs under a 5-second 40-yard dash and it limits what he can do in an offense. Still, his 6-5 and 200-pound frame means he could turn into a good college receiver.

Will a college training program get him to an acceptable level at wide receiver? Or will FSU try and convert him to a receiving tight end like Camren McDonald?

Derrick McLendon (3-star DE)
McLendon’s ceiling is not very high. He does not possess exceptional speed, or power, or any other measurement that one would consider an indicator of future potential. Yet McLendon is still a valuable addition to the class, because he is a very sound football player who does a little bit of everything. He’s reliable in run defense, he can chip in as a pass rusher, and he possesses a very high football IQ. It is unlikely that McLendon turns into an all-world defensive end in college, but he can absolutely turn into a reliable end who gives you consistent effort and production.

Renardo Green (3-star CB)
There are a select number of defensive systems that Renardo Green could succeed in. Florida State is one of them. Green is a smaller cornerback who will probably not be challenging any possession type receivers on jump balls. He has limited utility in this capacity. Instead, he will be jamming them at the line, or covering speedy receivers in the slot. Green is a tough defender with nice acceleration and top end speed who has the mentality that the Seminoles want from their players. Green certainly has a place in defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett’s system and will be a valuable depth piece.

Jarvis Brownlee (3-star CB)
Brownlee might turn out to be the better cornerback than Green when it is all said and done. Whereas Green is known for his speed and recovery ability, Brownlee is known for his size and his help in stopping the run. He underwent a growth spurt in his senior year that took him to over 6-0 and 168 pounds, which improves his prospects at the next level. Brownlee loves to jam receivers and attack the ball carrier with a ferocity. Speed is a slight concern, yet not enough to prevent multiple staffs from viewing him high on their boards.

Tru Thompson (3-star DT)
Florida State was on Tru Thompson very early in his high school career. Thompson played at the Georgia powerhouse Grayson High School, and he made waves as a defensive tackle back in 2016 and 2017. The problem is that Thompson stopped growing, much to the surprise of multiple staffs. He registers at just 6-0 and 340 pounds.

That does not necessarily mean he is a bad or even average player. Thompson is still a FSU-level prospect who could become a key piece in the middle after getting coached by Odell Haggins for a couple of years. For right now, Thompson is more of a project that really needs to get his technique down and make sure he has the minimum amount of bad weight. If there is anyone who could guarantee that, it would be Haggins.

Kevon Glenn (3-star LB)
The Seminoles needed to upgrade the reserves at linebacker immediately. Glenn does that and could possibly give them a reliable starter in two years. More than anything, Glenn’s hard hitting stands out when watching him play, as he knows how to wrap up and put his momentum into the ball carrier. His reaction to the play could improve, and it’s not clear how effective he will be in coverage. That will not be his main task however. Glenn will be used on the inside to try and help out the middle with stopping the run.

Interesting to note: Glenn was named to the Class AAAAA All-State Team in Georgia. If nothing else, he has the production to prove his viability at the next level.

Jay Williams (3-star JUCO OT)
Williams was not Florida State’s first option at offensive tackle, but he will be an immediate contributor nonetheless. His potential is intriguing. At the moment, Williams is a bit sloppy with his technique, and could improve his speed in pass-blocking. A number of his highlights show a nice burst in run-blocking and the power needed to succeed as a starter in the Power 5 conferences.

The good news is that Williams is an early enrollee. That will give him extra time to both improve his body composition and spend more time refining his game. It is unlikely that he comes out swinging in 2019, which should be viewed as an adjustment season. Yet we think his potential down the road is more than he is given credit for.

Maurice Smith (3-star G)
A college training program will greatly benefit Smith, who could play any of the inside positions on the line, with center being a likely starting spot. Despite a low ranking, Smith has very good technique in every area: Hand placement, foot movement, stance, everywhere that most high school linemen struggle with. The main area of improvement for Smith is obvious: Strength. He has a high floor and adequate size, and now he needs the strength to go with it. Expect a redshirt for 2019 while the staff aims to get Smith adjusted to FBS competition. His flexibility on the line will pay dividends in 2020 and beyond.

Malcolm Ray (3-star DT)
In terms of high ceilings, Malcolm Ray might have the highest of any recruit signed. He also might be the farthest away from that ceiling compared to his current standing. Ray played defensive end for Miami Carol City this past season and comes in at 6-2 and 250 pounds. He is very comfortable as a pass rusher and has a high motor no matter the situation. The athleticism is evident, and some believe that he has superstar potential in the future.

Ray will still need two years of development if he wants to see the field as a defensive tackle. He has the task of meeting both the physical and technical demands of a position which he has not played in his career. How fast he takes to defensive tackle will be an interesting story line to watch over the next two seasons.

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