Florida State University

Seminoles close with furious frenzy, vaulting up rankings with 13 four-star recruits

Nobody made more defensive plays last season than St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. He has been well prepared for stardom, and now he is a Seminole.
Nobody made more defensive plays last season than St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. He has been well prepared for stardom, and now he is a Seminole. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

It was a miserable 2017 season for Florida State as the Seminoles had a losing record (3-5) in the Atlantic Coast Conference, lost to rival Miami for the first time in eight years, got blown out by lowly Boston College (35-3) and lost their head coach.

That’s a lot of losing for a proud program.

To make matters worse, the Seminoles signed just seven players in December’s early period. New coach Willie Taggart scrambled to quickly put a class together as 14 recruits abandoned FSU after Jimbo Fisher bolted to run the Texas A&M program.

But with the arrival of Wednesday’s traditional National Signing Day, the sun has come out in Tallahassee — nothing but blue skies as the Seminoles have made a dramatic comeback, signing a total of 21 players.

Of those, 13 are four-star recruits.

“The Florida State brand is big-time,” Taggart, who left Oregon to coach FSU, told ESPN on Wednesday. “You get to go to the front of the line. You can go anywhere, and everyone knows who the Seminoles are. That helps big time.”

Among the players Taggart won over in the past couple of weeks were two kids he was recruiting at Oregon: wide receiver Warren Thompson and defensive end Malcolm Lamar. Both were in-state recruits who played at Seffner Armwood.

FSU beat out Miami — which badly needed defensive linemen — for three players at that position: Lamar, Dennis Briggs and Jamarcus Chatman. All of them decided in the final days before signing. In fact, Chatman’s decision was made on Wednesday.

The Seminoles, desperate at wide receiver with almost nothing of proven value coming back at the position, signed five in this class. They also signed four defensive backs, four defensive linemen and four offensive linemen.

Samuel talks about his commitment to FSU and being one of four Aquinas players invited to the Under Armour All-America Game

In December, you would’ve had to wade through dozens of schools before finding FSU on the national recruiting rankings. Then, just a week ago, they were spotted at No. 23 … then No. 16 and now, No. 12, according to 247 Sports.

Here’s a closer look:

▪ Immediate impact: Safety Jaiden Woodbey, a 6-2, 205-pounder from California, is a four-star recruit who is already enrolled and should play right away.

▪ Playmaker: Nobody made more defensive plays last season than St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. He has been well prepared for stardom.

▪ Biggest needs filled: FSU loaded up with a quartet of four-star defensive back: Woodbey, Samuel, AJ Lytton and Isaiah Bolden. The Seminoles also signed two four-star pass-catchers in Thompson and Tre’Shaun Harrison and a trio of three-star receivers in D’Marcus Adams, Jordan Young and Keyshawn Helton.

▪ Tennessee two-step: The Seminoles, deep at running back, added to their depth there when they flipped Anthony Grant away from the Volunteers. Miller, the wide receiver, also flipped from Tennessee. Miller was the Class 6A Georgia state champion in the 110 hurdles and also caught 17 TD passes as a senior.

▪ Ones that got away: Four-star quarterback James Foster signed with Fisher at Texas A&M, a painful blow to FSU. Three-star linebacker James Miller surprisingly signed with Indiana.

FSU RECRUITS

RB: Anthony Grant, 5-11, 200 (Georgia)

WR: D’Marcus Adams, 6-0, 170, Daytona Beach

WR: Warren Thompson, 6-3, 200, Seffner Armwood

WR: Keyshawn Helton, 5-9, 160, Pensacola

WR: Tre’Shaun Harrison, 6-2, 190, Seattle

WR: Jordan Young, 6-2, 185, Georgia

TE: Camren McDonald, 6-4, 220, California

OT: Christian Armstrong, 6-5, 335, Georgia

OT: Jalen Goss, 6-7, 265, Georgia

OT: Chaz Neal, 6-7, 255, Zephryhills

OG: Christian Meadows, 6-3, 330, Georgia

DE: Malcolm Lamar, 6-5, 250 (Seffner Armwood)

DE: Jamarcus Chatman, 6-3, 260 (Georgia)

DT: Robert Cooper, 6-2, 375, Georgia

DT: Dennis Briggs, 6-4, 250, Kissimmee

OLB: Amari Gainer, 6-2, 205, Tallahassee

OLB: Xavier Peters, 6-4, 225, Ohio

CB: Anthony “AJ” Lytton, 5-10, 175, Maryland

CB: Asante Samuel Jr., 5-9, 165, Aquinas

CB: Isaiah Bolden, 6-2, 175, Zephyrhills

S: Jaiden Woodbey, 6-2, 205, California

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