The Daily Nole

On My Mind Monday: Way Too Early 2020 FSU Class Prediction

Jeff Romance/FSU athletics

Before Florida State football recruiting enters a slight lull in the summer session, we got together and decided to take a shot at sketching out the predicted 2020 recruiting class.

The Seminoles have started off strong on the trail, rising all the way up to the No. 5 class in the nation (according to 247Sports rankings) after gaining commitments from 12 players — five of which have occurred in the past month. Is this a sign of things to come? Or is Florida State trying to lock down a group in hopes that the upcoming season won’t have much effect on its decisions?

We are taking a broad look at the class and attempting to figure out its general trends. Try to pay less attention to the names for this article and focus more on how the numbers are distributed. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than correctly guessing all the names that will end up in a recruiting class (in May, at least).

We tried to keep the predictions to players that are realistic FSU targets who have received offers — with the added goal of trying to add it all together for a predicted class finish. Commentary at each position is below.

Note: Rankings are from the 247Sports Composite.

Quarterback
4-star Jeff Sims
3-star Greg Spann

Sims is without a doubt the No. 1 guy in the class. The staff would still like to take another quarterback if they can. Ideally, the No. 2 quarterback would be more of a developmental prospect who understands he will be sitting his first year or two wherever he goes. Greg Spann, out of St. Petersburg, fits the bill. Staff was interested in him for a while, but his recent camp performances highlighted his biggest weaknesses. He is very raw and needs a lot of refinement. His physical abilities are still highly sought after in an offense that Kendal Briles could run, however.

Running Back
4-star Jaylan Knighton
4-star Jo’Quavious Marks
4-star Caziah Holmes

Florida State is in a fantastic position with all the running backs on its board — to the point where any combination of the three could make it into the class. Knighton and Marks can bring the speed and explosiveness, while Holmes can run between the tackles a bit more and provide a nice change of pace.

Why is Lawrance Toafili excluded? We have no sources backing up this conjecture, but the fact that he is taking his recruitment slowly might say something about how he is approaching the situation. It just seems like he is keeping the door open for other schools to step in and sway him. If we had to guess, we’d say Florida would be one to look out for there, since it missed on Demarkcus Bowman and Keyvone Lee is trending away.

Wide Receiver
4-star Malachi Wideman
4-star Arian Smith
4-star Bryce Gowdy

Getting Wideman in the boat early was crucial for this group. Now FSU can focus on a variety of options, including Michael Redding III, Bryan Robinson, and others. Ultimately, we think FSU grabs two more, with slot-phenom Arian Smith and Deerfield Beach receiver Bryce Gowdy joining the class. It’s entirely possible that FSU takes four in total.

Offensive Guard
3-star Richard Leonard
3-star Tate Johnson

Guard isn’t as pressing a need as tackle. Still, FSU stands to upgrade immediately with Leonard and Johnson. While Johnson is the higher ranked of the two at the moment, very few feel that is completely accurate. Leonard is being sought after by multiple high-profile schools and is viewed as an immediate contributor in some spots. Florida State’s standing with Johnson is slipping a bit, but it is still the favorite at this point in time.

FSU wants to keep more spots open for tackle, so these two on the interior would be a very solid pair for the future.

Offensive Tackle
4-star Issiah Walker Jr.
3-star Zane Herring
3-star Thomas Shrader

Florida State’s board at offensive tackle is getting a bit worrisome. It seems like Jalen Rivers is a long shot, and right now, it doesn’t have much traction with another in-state option Josh Braun. That means current South Carolina commit and Norland High School star Issiah Walker Jr. is the Seminoles’ best shot at getting an immediate contributor. Florida State has stayed on Walker throughout the process, and will make it very hard for him to say no. Walker could come in immediately and win a starting tackle job.

We put Herring at tackle here for numbers sake (and the fact that Herring might honestly be needed more at tackle than anywhere else). Finally, the Seminoles will probably add a third tackle just for depth purposes. Venice standout Thomas Shrader is undersized and early in his development, but he has an encouraging ceiling. The sooner he can get into a college weight program, the better.

There is also a slim chance FSU takes four tackles. While that would be hard to work numbers-wise, we all know how desperate they are to upgrade the outside.

Defensive End
3-star Elijah Roberts
3-star Josh Griffis

This is one position where it seems that Florida State is really lagging to gain interest. The Seminoles are going to need more options at defensive end after 2019, and they are struggling to find any top-tier players that could fill the void. Chantz Williams has never seemed interested, Reggie Grimes is a huge Alabama lean (and probably not an immediate contributor), and Will Anderson is trending away.

They’ll probably take three just for depth purposes, but it’s hard to figure out who a third option would be. Roberts is better than his ranking at least. He’s still not the elite pass rusher they’re looking for. There are a lot of questions about this position group and not a lot of answers.

Defensive Tackle
4-star Jalen Carter
4-star Timothy Smith

It’s also possible that FSU takes three players at defensive tackle if it doesn’t like how the development is going with the guys currently on the roster behind Cory Durden and Robert Cooper. While things have been more quiet on this front, FSU is still in good position for multiple blue-chip talents, including McKinnley Jackson, out of Mississippi. Carter and Smith are two in-state options, so we just went with them for the purpose of this article.

Linebacker
4-star Keyshawn Greene
4-star Jayion McCluster
3-star Stephen Dix Jr.

The linebacker room is probably done. It’s a very impressive accomplishment, and this trio of players is a well-rounded group. Greene is the athletic freak with sky-high potential, McCluster is the interior presence with great toughness, and Dix is a flexible outside option in coverage. Watch for Dix to get a 4-star bump when Rivals eventually updates its rankings. As a bonus, they all seem fully committed to Florida State and are not interested in looking around anymore.

Cornerback
4-star Demorie Tate
4-star Jalen Harrell
4-star Isaiah Dunson
3-star Derek Bermudez

It’s hard to say if the cornerback group will remain for the entirety of the cycle. Tate is getting a lot of looks from elite programs, who noticed the same potential that Florida State did long ago. Harrell is another flip candidate who will certainly continue to be recruited by the hometown Miami Hurricanes. Losing one either way wouldn’t change the staff’s approach to the numbers however. By every indication, they are maxed out at four players at cornerback.

Safety
4-star Jadarius McKnight

Safety is a more flexible position group. Harrell and Tate could grow into safeties and change positions, or McKnight could bulk up into a linebacker and do the same. Consider that FSU took two safeties (Brendan Gant, Raymond Woodie III) and another potential safety (Travis Jay) in the 2019 class as well.

Predicted Finish: 265.35 (14th in 2019)

Clint Eiland is the lead writer for The Daily Nole. Follow Clint on Twitter @ClintEiland. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at Mike@TheDailyNole.com.

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