High School Recruiting

The Florida State Seminoles can still make a recovery come Signing Day. And here’s why

St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Asante Samuel leaps over a Deerfield Beach player Oct. 6, 2017. He signed with Florida State.
St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Asante Samuel leaps over a Deerfield Beach player Oct. 6, 2017. He signed with Florida State. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Florida State signed just seven players in December, a paltry amount and partly the result of the coaching transition between Jimbo Fisher, now at Texas A&M, and Willie Taggart, the new boss in Tallahassee.

A total of 14 players abandoned commitments to FSU after Fisher jumped ship, but there are several reasons why the Seminoles can make a fairly quick recovery in recruiting and on the field:

▪ The Seminoles are closing fast. They now have 14 players either signed or committed, including 10 who are four-star athletes. That includes two more commitments over this past weekend, and both of them are players Miami wanted — four-star defensive tackle Dennis Briggs, an urgent need for the Hurricanes; and four-star linebacker Xavier Peters.

Those two commitments lifted FSU from No. 23 in the 247 Sports recruiting rankings to No. 16, and they could move up even more by National Signing Day Feb. 7.

▪ The Seminoles have a streak of four consecutive recruiting classes ranked top-six in the nation. In other words, they have some leeway to still have a productive 2019 even if this class isn’t quite up to their normal standards.

▪ The Seminoles have built a coaching staff that is designed for recruiting success. How good this staff is on game day remains to be seen, but Taggart has put together a staff that is not only younger but also much more adept on social media than Fisher and his group.

“I think Taggart will do a very good job,” Charles Fishbein, a recruiting expert from Elite Scouting Service, told the Miami Herald. “Many of his recruits in this class are from the West Coast because those were the relationships he had when he was coaching Oregon. But if you look at how his 2019 class is coming along, there will be way more kids from Florida and Georgia.”

Fishbein said Fisher’s early recruiting classes at FSU were terrific but slippage showed. It wasn’t enough to just show up with the FSU logo. The Seminoles were getting outworked, Fishbein said.

Further, the Seminoles’ most recent classes weren’t balanced, loading up at certain positions to try to cover for past mistakes, a move that can lead to trouble on the field.

So what will happen for FSU on Feb. 7?

The Seminoles are believed to have 15 scholarships available for unsigned players. Seven of them are expected to go to players who are committed but not yet signed: Briggs, Peters, wide receiver D’Marcus Adams; tight end Camren McDonald: and offensive linemen Jalen Goss, Chaz Neal and Christian Meadows.

But even if all of those players sign, FSU still needs two more receivers and two more defensive ends.

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

FSU is after two defensive linemen who 247 Sports predicts will sign with Miami: Jamarcus Chatman and end Andrew Chatfield.

But the Seminoles are in better shape with two four-star players from Seffner Armwood who had committed to Taggart at Oregon but now appear ready to follow him to Tallahassee: wide receiver Warren Thompson and defensive end Malcolm Lamar.

In addition, Armwood three-star inside linebacker James Miller is also likely to sign with the Seminoles.

FSU is also in the lead for four-star wide receiver Tre’Shaun Harrison, a game-breaker from Seattle.

“Harrison’s tape is as good as I’ve seen,” Fishbein said. “He’s elite.”

If the Seminoles get the players they are reportedly favored to sign — including running back Jashaun Corbin — that would wrap up what would be a very good class.

But the Noles also want a quarterback in this class, and the only one they are targeting is James Foster, an Alabama passer who will visit FSU on Feb. 2. LSU and Alabama are also pursuing Foster.

Wide receiver Antoine Green is another FSU target, although 247 Sports has North Carolina in the lead in that chase.

The Seminoles have also tried to get commitments from several other players without success: offensive tackle William Barnes, wide receivers Joshua Moore and Jalen Hall, American Heritage cornerbacks Patrick Surtain Jr. and Tyson Campbell and running back Anthony Grant.

A lot can happen between now and Feb. 7, but it is safe to say optimism has been restored at FSU.

The Recruiting Column is a year-round feature of the Miami Herald. If you have a tip or story idea regarding recruiting or an impending college commitment, please contact Walter Villa at: wvilla07@yahoo.com

FSU COMMITMENTS

Position, player, height, weight, school

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

TE: Camren McDonald, 6-4, 220, California (unsigned)

OT: Christian Armstrong, 6-5, 335, Georgia (enrolled)

OT: Jalen Goss, 6-7, 265, Georgia (unsigned)

OT: Chaz Neal, 6-7, 255, Zephryhills (unsigned)

OG: Christian Meadows, 6-3, 330, Georgia (unsigned)

DT: Robert Cooper, 6-2, 375, Georgia (signed)

DT: Dennis Briggs, 6-4, 250, Kissimmee (unsigned)

OLB: Amari Gainer, 6-2, 205, Tallahassee (enrolled)

OLB: Xavier Peters, 6-4, 225, Ohio (unsigned)

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

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

CB: Isaiah Bolden, 6-2, 175, Zephyrhills (signed)

S: Jaiden Woodbey, 6-2, 205, California (enrolled)

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