The Daily Nole

Sunday Centerpiece: FSU Early Signing Period Superlatives

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New Florida State football head coach Mike Norvell had a tremendous Early Signing Period, all things considered. The overall ranking of the class won’t be stellar, but Norvell and his staff’s accomplishments within two weeks of getting hired should be commended.

He didn’t just lock down a majority of those committed to the prior staff — he flipped a 4-star quarterback, grabbed a sought after blue-chip receiver, and grabbed key depth options at both defensive end and wide receiver. It’s about as good as you can expect in the circumstances.

The class isn’t technically done yet. It still has a February signing period, where FSU is expected to look at junior college and graduate transfer options. Yet, most of the class is already signed and heading to campus, and we don’t expect any new commitments to radically change the selections below.

Here are your 2020 recruiting class superlatives:

Most Likely to Contribute in 2020

Our Pick: Lawrance Toafili, RB

There’s a chance that Florida State’s first, second and third running back options for 2020 are entirely different than they were for 2019. Cam Akers is going to the NFL, Khalan Laborn is suspended and might not return to the team and Anthony Grant has to clear up some off-the-field issues before he can rejoin the program. Florida State is currently in the market for a transfer candidate in addition to recently signed top-200 player Lawrance Toafili.

The great news is that even though Toafili is a true freshman, he’s a fundamentally sound prospect that will have little trouble transitioning to the college game. Mike Norvell and his staff made a strong push to get Toafili in the fold during the Early Signing Period for a reason. They wanted that security at the position, and they wanted Toafili to know that he is in their plans as early as 2020. Even if FSU lands a high-profile transfer candidate and both Khalan Laborn and Anthony Grant return, Toafili has a great shot at being a contributor.

Most Likely to Switch Positions

Our Pick: Emanuel Rogers, DT

This has been a fiercely debated topic within FSU circles ever since Rogers committed.

Why? Because FSU has a huge need at both defensive tackle and offensive tackle. While it’s good to have someone like Rogers able to fill either role, it makes it a tougher decision when your options at either spot are thin. Rogers is coming in to try out at defensive tackle first, that much we know. But what if he doesn’t contribute like they thought he would? Can FSU successfully convince him to try his hand at offensive tackle?

Florida State didn’t sign many “tweeners” in this class, so there’s no cop-out option we could choose. We’ll say that Rogers is the most likely to switch positions, just because he has the most obvious route to playing time if he elects to take it.

Most Likely to Redshirt

Our Pick: Lloyd Willis, T

Well, he’s an offensive lineman. Check. He’s 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds. Check. He has a pulse. Check. Those are the main reasons FSU gave him a committable offer, and we’re not trying to be mean. Willis is a big project that will likely need a year or two of development before he’s ready to get on the field. It seems odd to say that about an offensive lineman, considering FSU’s struggles there, but a very real risk occurs when you throw someone out there before they’re ready. Willis’ development needs to address both the intricacies of actually playing the position and reshaping his body to drop the bad weight.

Best Chance of Winning the Heisman Trophy

Our Pick: Chubba Purdy, QB

You either have to be a quarterback or running back to win the Heisman these days. So the only options were really Chubba Purdy, Tate Rodemaker, or Lawrance Toafili. We’ll go with the higher-ranked quarterback who put up fantastic numbers in high school and who got tagged as an immediate priority by this staff.

Purdy’s dual-threat ability will give Florida State a quarterback style it hasn’t truly seen since E.J. Manuel graduated in 2012. He’s got a –“Purdy”– deep ball and looks quite adept at throwing on the run. Norvell’s offense can be quite friendly to its quarterbacks and work around their limitations, and it can adjusted to enhance someone’s natural talent. Brady White at Memphis wasn’t as reliable on the run, so if Norvell feels that Purdy’s style can open up more parts of the playbook, he could have an impressive offense on the way with Purdy taking snaps.

Most Underrated

Our Pick: Thomas Shrader, OT

Everyone wants the 5-star, no doubt, immediate starter on the FSU offensive line. So when someone like Shrader comes around, who is a modestly ranked 3-star with middling offers from Louisville and Boston College, it doesn’t make as many waves. Have no doubt however: Florida State has found a very promising piece of the puzzle. Shrader enjoyed a nice senior season at Venice High School, where he showed off what made a trio of teams make a hard push for him. Shrader has great balance and knows how to get leverage with his hands and feet, against both the pass rush and while trying to open a hole in the run game. If you’re an offensive lineman, there’s essentially no better trait to have coming into college.

The only thing holding Shrader back — and it’s a big one — is size. He’s simply not that big of an offensive lineman, and a single glance at him makes it clear he has room to fill out. It became obvious in the camp circuit: Shrader would do a lot of things correct from a technical standpoint, and he would hold his own against more talented players…but they would always win the rep because they were simply stronger and could overpower him. Right now, he stands at 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. If the staff can get him up over 300 pounds and reshape his body a bit, he could contribute on the spot. The No. 1 essential step for Shrader right now is getting into a college strength and conditioning program.

Watch his progress in the offseason carefully. If he begins gaining weight and looking bigger heading into fall practice, he may just crack the rotation by the end of 2020.

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

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