High School Recruiting

No big pick ups for Seminoles Saturday, but these December signings give FSU an edge

Hassan Whiteside on adjusting to offensive changes

Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside returned Tuesday after missing 11 games. He talks about getting back to full strength and adjusting to changes in Heat’s offense.
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Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside returned Tuesday after missing 11 games. He talks about getting back to full strength and adjusting to changes in Heat’s offense.

This was not a good day for Florida State.

The Seminoles, amid a recent coaching change from Jimbo Fisher to Willie Taggart, entered Saturday with a 2018 recruiting class ranked just 33rd nationally by 247 Sports.

FSU had a chance to improve on that ranking Saturday during the U.S. Army All-America Bowl in San Antonio. But the Seminoles, who were in pursuit of three of the six players who announced their college choices during Saturday’s game, were shut out.

Louisiana safety Kelvin Joseph chose LSU; Kentucky wide receiver Rondae Moore selected Purdue; and California native Brendan Radley-Hiles, who plays cornerback in Florida for IMG Academy, picked Oklahoma.

Losing Radley-Hiles was the biggest blow because his last visit was to FSU. Joseph and Moore also had FSU among their final four choices.

Mitigating the loss of those recruiting battles is the fact that the highest-ranked players FSU signed in December were all defensive backs, including St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (ranked 25th overall by ESPN).

Samuel, cornerback AJ Lytton and safety Jaiden Woodbey are all FSU recruits who are top-five at their position.

Miramar coach AJ Scott said Samuel, the son of a former NFL defensive back, was the best defensive player he saw this past season.

“He really understands the game,” Scott said. “His father passed on a lot of knowledge.”

As for a sleeper in FSU’s Class of 2018, try Piper cornerback Bryand Rincher, who is listed as undeclared but has actually signed with the Seminoles for track.

Piper coach David Coleman said Rincher — who won a state title in the 100 meters as a sophomore — will walk on for football.

“He could be a return guy or a slot receiver, run jet sweeps,” Coleman said.


▪ Former Miami Central running back James Cook scored the first touchdown in Saturday’s game. He ran 16 yards around right end and got knocked down as he reached the pylon. He then got up and raced 60 yards in the opposite direction before firing the ball into the stands. Cook also had a TD catch in the fourth quarter.

▪ For those who thought that the lack of an on-campus football stadium hurts Miami Hurricanes recruiting, think again. Canes quarterback recruit Jarren Williams, who is from Georgia, was invited to Miami after he had a seven-TD-pass game. He came down for the Notre Dame and said the atmosphere at Hard Rock Stadium was a big reason why he committed.

▪ Other South Floridians who played Saturday in San Antonio: American Heritage cornerback Patrick Surtain (undeclared); American Heritage cornerback Tyson Campbell (undeclared); American Heritage defensive tackle Nesta Silvera (Miami); former Columbus cornerback Josh Jobe (Alabama); and Southridge wide receiver Mark Pope (Miami).

Two more Miami recruits in the game were IMG wide receiver Brian Hightower and Orlando running back Lorenzo Lingard. Hightower looked like one of the best players on the field Saturday — a very polished receiver. Lingard, Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year, won the pushup contest in the leadup to the game.

▪ Clemson has three of the top five players — as ranked by ESPN — in the 2018 class. But one of those recruits, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, threw two interceptions on his first two drives on Saturday. He had 44 touchdown passes and one pick as a high school senior.

▪ Miami recruit Al Blades Jr., a cornerback from Aquinas, donned a makeshift turnover chain after he recovered an onside kick in Thursday’s Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando.