Recruiting enthusiasts, Christmas is coming early. This year’s Early Signing Period (ESP) commences on Wednesday and will run through Friday. We expect the majority of Florida State’s present commitments to sign during that time, making their pledges to FSU official. So let’s take a look at this year’s class, as it stands now. Below are the Seminoles’ current verbal commits, in order of their composite rankings. They’re followed by some notes on this class, as it stands now, and how it may finish up (those in bold are expected to sign during the ESP).
- Akeem Dent, 5-star CB; Palm Beach Central (West Palm Beach, FL)
- Nick Cross, 4-star S; DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD)
- Sam Howell, 4-star QB; Sun Valley (Monroe, NC)
- Brendan Gant, 4-star S; Kathleen (Lakeland, FL)
- Dontae Lucas, 4-star OG; IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
- Travis Jay, 4-star CB; Madison County (Madison, FL)
- Jaleel McRae, 4-star OLB; IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
- Quashon Fuller, 4-star SDE; Lehigh Senior (Lehigh Acres, FL)
- Kalen DeLoach, 4-star OLB; Islands (Savannah, GA)
- Derick Hunter, 4-star SDE; Dunbar (Fort Myers, FL)
- Curtis Fann, 4-star SDE; Emanuel County Institute (Twin City, GA)
- Maurice Goolsby, 3-star WR; Dunnellon (Dunnellon, FL)
- Derrick McLendon, 3-star WDE; Tucker (Tucker, GA)
- Renardo Green, 3-star CB; Wekiva (Apopka, FL)
- Tru Thompson, 3-star DT; Grayson (Logansville, GA)
- Kevon Glenn, 3-star ILB; Dutchtown (Hampton, GA)
Right now, this class of future ’Noles is ranked 13th nationally and second in the ACC, behind only Clemson. A few thoughts:
- The standard-bearer of this group, 5-star corner Akeem Dent, is not expected to sign during the ESP, as of now. But the ’Noles would certainly love to have him in the fold, and are pressing to get him to sign early. He’s one of a number of these commits who visited Tallahassee this past weekend. If FSU’s gamble doesn’t pay off, then they’ll have burnt their official visit, while others will be able to bring Dent on campus ahead of February’s traditional National Signing Day in attempts to flip him away from Florida State. The Seminoles have basically bet on their ability to close him sooner rather than later.
- Including Dent, four of this class’ top six players are defensive backs— and that’s certainly not a bad thing. The ’Noles need more players who fit the system of defensive coordinator and secondary coach Harlon Barnett. In 2018, FSU’s DBs registered a havoc rate of just 5.7%. That was 98th out of 130 FBS teams. That’s way too low for a state like Florida that routinely produces exceptional defensive backs. The Seminoles also may have flipped former Miami commit Jarvis Browlnee, another corner.
- One of those standout secondary commits is Nick Cross, of Maryland, the No. 5 safety in the country. Florida State’s safeties were not good last year, and he could immediately bolster the unit. However, his high school head coach, Elijah Brooks, was recently hired as the running backs coach at Maryland. We’ll see if this affects his commitment to the Seminoles.
- Recruiting the quarterback position is always important, but this year brings heightened significance to the position for the ’Noles, since they did not take a QB last year. So, keeping Sam Howell, the country’s No. 3 signal-caller, aboard is quite a priority. That seemed like a given, until former FSU OC Walt Bell left to take the head coaching job at UMass. Now, Howell’s home-state Tar Heels may be a real contender for his services. But rest assured that Howell will hear (or already has) about Florida State’s next offensive coordinator before the news officially breaks.
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so goes the literary trope dating back centuries. But no Seminole fan’s ticker is doing any better seeing just one offensive lineman committed to FSU, even if it is the promising Dontae Lucas. But the ’Noles may not be done up front. Will Putnam, the country’s No. 4 guard, is set to decide soon, and JUCO prospect Jay Williams, from California, will make his decision and sign on Wednesday. Williams is considered the country’s 7th-best tackle prospect. Florida State could have flipped 3-star guard Maurice Smith away from Boston College.
- Continuing with the idea of absence, there’s just one inside linebacker, Kevon Glenn, currently committed to FSU. Raymond Woodie III, the son of the Seminoles’ LB coach of the same name, may wind up in the class, too. We’re not sure if he’d play safety or the star linebacker spot.
- As far as pipelines go, it’s encouraging to see that two of above-listed verbal commits are from IMG, a Florida prep. school that fields elite talent from all over the country. Taggart and company will be well served to keep this connection alive.
- Another connection that has not been maintained is that from the Pacific coast. Last year, FSU secured a trio of “West Coast ’Noles”: top-signee Jaiden Woodbey, Tre’Shaun Harrison, and Camren McDonald— all blue-chip recruits. We were very honest about the diminishing returns to be expected from Taggart’s lone year at Oregon, but this is quite abrupt, likely brought about by Florida State’s dismal 2018 campaign.
- What could be perceived as a lack of national recruiting can also be seen as plus as it pertains to FSU’s local effectiveness. Of the Seminoles’ 15 current commits, 13 are from either Florida or Georgia. A far-reaching arm is always nice, but locking up regional talent is critical. The southeast is never going to run short on elite prospects, so while nabbing a prospect or two from other areas is a bonus, but the ’Noles cannot neglect their own backyard.
Stick around, folks. While these are definitely storylines on which you should keep an eye, others are sure to emerge as the Early Signing Period nears; and it’s now just hours away.