Florida State coach Willie Taggart talks about FSU’s class on National Signing Day.
Wayne McGahee III, Tallahassee Democrat
The perception of Florida State’s football program has steadily dropped since the 2018 season.
Nothing that happened on Wednesday’s National Signing Day will help change that impression.
The Seminoles missed out on another quarterback target when four-star Lance LeGendre committed to Maryland. FSU coach Willie Taggart said he has to do a better job of identifying quarterback recruits. The team’s inability to sign a quarterback for a second consecutive recruiting cycle dampened the good things that happened Wednesday.
“I think going through last year we’ve got to make sure that we get our guy, and when it comes to getting a quarterback and making sure that he’s a team guy and just can’t be a certain guy because I think if anything that’s what hurt us,” Taggart said.
“We invested in someone and we missed on them. So that’s on us and just gotta make sure that don’t happen again.”
Legendre was the second quarterback (four-star John Rhys Plumlee) prospect that FSU missed on in three days, and the third quarterback (four-star Sam Howell) the Seminoles have missed on in the last two months.
Maryland, under new coach Mike Locksley, was able to swoop in despite offering Legendre less than two weeks ago. The Terrapins offered while he was on his official visit to FSU the weekend of Jan. 25.
Legendre visited Maryland last weekend.
LeGendre is a decently talented player, but he’s not a Jameis Winston type who FSU could have banked the future of the program on.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely important to land him.
The Seminoles didn’t sign a quarterback in the 2018 class after missing out on four-star quarterback James Foster on National Signing Day.
Now FSU has just one scholarship quarterback (James Blackman) on the roster who is eligible for the 2019 season after the dismissal of starting quarterback Deondre Francois Sunday.
The Seminoles needed the depth LeGendre would bring badly and needed a prospect that may develop into something in the future.
There’s nothing like that on the roster.
Taggart said he has a plan for how the Seminoles will handle the quarterback situation and mentioned grad transfers as a potential option.
“We have a plan, I think a pretty good plan,” Taggart said.
“I don’t necessarily want to discuss it right now, but I think we’ve got a pretty good plan of where we want to go. We’ve had this plan in place and after today we executed it and we’ve got to continue to grow, be more adept at the position, obviously.
“I think when you look at the transport portal and the grad transfer portal, there’s always options for us. But I think it’s more important to get the right kind of guy especially at that position and not just go get anybody.”
But that creates as much of an issue as not signing a quarterback because of Blackman.
Taggart said in his press conference that Blackman isn’t a guy that’s scared of competition.
“I think James is one of those guys that not only understands that, he’s all about that,” Taggart said.
“And I don’t think that he will turn down any competition. And I think he’ll welcome it and understanding that’s the way it is around here; that’s the way it should be. And James believes enough in himself. So he don’t have to worry about anything.”
But I think that misses the point.
Blackman already sat behind a quarterback for the 2018 season and wasn’t happy when FSU started pursuing other grad transfers like Justin Fields and Jalen Hurts.
It caused him to start the process of putting his name into the transfer portal before ultimately deciding against it.
What message does it send to Blackman that he was passed over for the starting job in 2018 and FSU is recruiting his replacement during the off-season?
I personally wouldn’t feel very wanted at that point.
But that’s not the only thing that went wrong for FSU today.
Four-star safety Nick Cross, the Seminoles’ top ranked unsigned prospect, is having a very public battle with his parents about signing with FSU.
Cross wants to be at FSU, but his parents have told him that they won’t sign off on him playing in Tallahassee. His father wants him to play at Penn State or Maryland.
Not only is there a question about Cross ending up in the class, but it’s also an awful look for the program that a parent is so against his son playing for FSU.
Especially when the recruit is as high-profile as Cross.
It also doesn’t help that the class is now going to finish with the worst recruiting ranking FSU had since the 2008 season when the Seminoles signed just 16 prospects.
FSU is currently ranked 16th in the 247Sports composite rankings but would fall to 20th if Cross lands elsewhere.
It should be noted that there were some things that went right for FSU Wednesday.
The Seminoles received commitments from two three-star offensive tackles who hadn’t yet committed and kept the commitment of four-star defensive end Quashon Fuller. Fuller was being pursued by Alabama.
The overall class is full of quality players and filled needs at linebacker, defensive back, and offensive line.
But those positives don’t come close to outweighing the negatives.
And it seems like that’s the way everything is going for FSU nowadays.