A new era of Florida State football begins this season under Willie Taggart.
The first-year coach had to salvage a 2018 recruiting class that took a hit when Jimbo Fisher departed for Texas A&M.
Taggart did just fine, racking 21 commitments en route to the No. 11 recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports.com.
The Seminoles will have to replace a lot of notable talent this year if they want to rebound from a lackluster 2017 season that saw them finish with their lowest win total since 2009. With that said, here are 3 Florida State freshmen that have a strong chance at seeing the field in 2018:
Jaiden Woodbey, safety
No departure is bigger than that of safety Derwin James for Florida State. Woodbey could be a potential piece in trying to fill that void in the backend of the Seminoles’ secondary,
The Fontana, Calif., native ranked as the No. 35 overall player in the Class of 2018 and the No. 4 safety in the country. He arrived in the spring and has already made a name for himself as a hard-hitter, with Taggart having to tell him reign it in, according to Brendan Sonnone of 247Sports.com.
Woodbey is currently competing for playing time with senior A.J. Westbrook and sophomores Cyrus Fagan and Namsah Nasirildeen. Westbrook and Nasirildeen both played extensively last season, but Woodbey’s aggressiveness could lead to him seeing a lot of snaps this year.
Warren Thompson, wide receiver
Wide receiver is arguably the biggest question mark for the Seminoles this season after Auden Tate declared for the NFL Draft.
Florida State’s leading receiver from a year ago, Nyquan Murray, returns for his senior season, but the Seminoles only have four other returning scholarship players at wideout. Aside from Murray, junior Keith Gavin is the only one to contribute meaningfully.
Enter Thompson, who will be one of six newcomers at the receiver position for the Seminoles this season — five freshmen and redshirt freshman Tamorrion Terry. Thompson is the highest-rated prospect of all the incoming freshmen, listed as the 157th-best player in the country and No. 28 wide receiver.
At 6-foot-3, the Seffner, Fla. native will be the third-tallest receiver on the roster when he arrives in the summer.
Amari Gainer, outside linebacker
Gainer steps into a situation where Florida State is looking to replace all three of its starting linebackers from last season.
There is depth at this position, but not much in terms of experience, meaning everybody is on the same playing field. He also has the versatility to play defensive line. That gives the hometown kid an opportunity to make an impact this spring and find a role in this defense.
Gainer ranked as the No. 18 linebacker in the country out of Lawton Chiles High School. Fellow 4-star linebacker Xavier Peters can also play into the linebacker rotation when he arrives in the summer.