FSU football is getting criticized by some for not bringing in all the five stars like past classes, but the leaders produced of late far outweigh the stars.
With national signing day approaching a lot of focus is being placed on recruiting rankings and player stars – and is that enough for a winning season? Keep in mind that FSU football had the number 11th ranked class coming in this year and still had the season they had.
Part of the benefit I have working in radio is to interview many former players and Seminole greats, from Marvin Jones to Peter Warrick to Charlie Ward. A common theme you will hear from them is about finding players to play for the brand – no “me” centered attitude, but players who genuinely want to return FSU football to greatness.
We heard all year that the players we have now are not Willie Taggart’s recruits, but the truth is some are. Do the recruits that Taggart brought in show promise for our future? The answer is yes. I’ll examine two, and more than just their stats on the field but their leadership.
Wide Receiver Keyshawn Helton
Perhaps one of Taggart’s best recruiting stories. As a three-star wide receiver, Helton’s biggest offer was from Kent State. Probably one of the most underrated wide receivers full of talent, Coach Taggart noticed, offered him and he became a Nole.
In one year through six games, he had 11 receptions for 176 yards, averaging 16 yards with one touchdown. This includes three catches for 100 yards against the almighty Clemson. On kick returns in six games he had nine kick returns for 196 yards averaging 21.8 yards. He has always shown flashes when given the opportunity, and thanks his coach for those opportunities.
Taggart said Keyshawn Helton came over and told him “Thanks for the opportunity” after his touchdown catch against Clemson. #FSU Helton was a low ranked recruit out of high school. His biggest offer outside of #FSU was Kent State. Had 3 catches for 100 yards against Clemson
— Wayne McGahee III (@WayneMcGaheeIII) October 29, 2018
Even more importantly, he represents FSU football off the field the way it should be. He is continually positive about the future of our program, and demonstrates leadership off the field that should make all of us proud. He’s humble but hungry.
Safety Jaiden Woodbey
Definitely a recruiting story Noles will never forget. The five-star defensive back ended up coming to Florida State thanks to a fan on Twitter. He had many offers and Florida State wasn’t even in the running, until one night an FSU fan tweeted to him mentioning coming to FSU and he responded that he couldn’t because FSU had not offered him.
— THOR (@JaidenWoodbey) December 12, 2017
With our new coach at the helm though, within five hours he had an offer from Florida State and chose us. In 12 games, he had 59 tackles (24 solo, 35 assists) along with one sack, seven passes defended and one forced fumble. Like Helton, his leadership off the field in the way he represents FSU shows. He continually works to recruit other players and promote a positive message about our brand.
Looking at the 2019 class many players have similar attitudes – with Jaleel McRae, Dontae Lucas, Jarvis Brownlee, Akeem Dent just to name a few. The reality is Taggart was an FSU fan through the Bowden years, and saw the players who fought for our brand instead of just themselves.
Looking at his recruiting, he is finding those players to take our field once again. To win games, leadership matters more than stars. Let 2018 be an example to remind us of that.