Florida State recruiting: Breaking down defensive end board
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Seminoles targeting lengthy, athletic pass rushers in 2019 cycle
Florida State signed four defensive ends in the 2018 class, with more emphasis on bigger, edge-setting prospects who would be designated as strongside defensive ends.
Considering that the Seminoles already hold commitments from 4-star Lehigh Acres (Fla.) defensive end Quashon Fuller and 4-star Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage defensive end Mike Morris — both of whom are rated as strongside defensive ends — in the 2019 class, the focus at the position will be on more lengthy and athletic types.
Even though Fuller is looking at other schools, for coach Willie Taggart and defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett, the Seminoles are likely to place more emphasis on prospects rated as weakside defensive ends.
The model for this position in the Seminoles’ current scheme is junior Brian Burns.
Which players are classified as top targets heading into the spring and where do their recruitments stand?
Let’s take a look as we break down the Florida State board at defensive end.
Current best bets to land in Florida State’s class: Derick Hunter, 4 stars, Lloyd Summerall, 4 stars
If there is one clear focus for Florida State at strongside defensive end, it is 4-star Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar standout Derick Hunter. The 6-foot-4, 281-pound in-state product rates as the nation’s No. 15 strongside defensive end and the No. 186 player in the 2019 cycle, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He was present for Florida State’s junior day event in February and had a prep teammate — 2020 athlete Jadarius McKnight — who announced his commitment to the Seminoles on that visit. Florida, Georgia, Miami and Maryland appear to be the other main suitors involved with Hunter. His leaderboard has fluctuated but expect the Seminoles to remain in the thick of his recruitment until it concludes.
— Lloyd Summerall lll🎋 (@HimsoHam) February 18, 2018
Another player who made it to junior day in February is 4-star Auburndale (Fla.) Senior defensive end Lloyd Summerall. The 6-5, 218-pound edge rusher fits the mold of what the Seminoles are looking for in terms of pass-rushing ends. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Miami are among the other schools in the mix with him, but the Seminoles appear to be the team in front.
Other top options: Khris Bogle, 4 stars, Brandon Smith, 4 stars, Kayvon Thibodeaux, 5 stars
Joining Summerall among the top in-state options is 4-star Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons defensive end Khris Bogle. The 6-4, 207-pound Bogle has Clemson and Miami hot on his trail, and his recruitment could become another showdown between in-state rivals in the Hurricanes and the Seminoles. Miami has gotten him on campus numerous times in recent months. The Seminoles are working to get him to Tallahassee soon. The Hurricanes may have a slight edge.
A pair of out-of-state targets who figure to get the attention of the staff include 4-star Mineral (Va.) Louisa County defensive end Brandon Smith and 5-star Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The previous Florida State staff was involved with Smith and got him to visit campus in 2017. He was high on the program then, but his status with the new staff remains a mystery. The 6-5, 215-pound Smith rates as the nation’s No. 4 weakside defensive end and the No. 35 player in the 2019 cycle. Given Smith’s familiarity with the program, the Seminoles could become a factor with him again if the staff reaches out in an effort to rebuild that relationship.
With Thibodeaux — the top overall prospect in the 2019 class regardless of position — he is a player whom Taggart likely recruits until the end hoping to be among his final group. He was supposed to visit last weekend. However, the Seminoles were on spring break so he only made it to Florida. He is hoping to reschedule to make it to the spring game on April 14. If he does, that could help the Seminoles make a move up his list.
Next who could receive an offer: Rian Davis, 3 stars
Prospects who have the versatility to play multiple positions can provide great flexibility for college defensive coordinators. Either they play more than one position or they can play a position with hybrid characteristics or responsibilities.
That could be the case with 3-star Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva defensive end Rian Davis. The 6-3, 225-pound Davis could be an outside linebacker or defensive end in college. Because the Seminoles need help at both positions, his versatility could result in Florida State offering him soon.
He has landed 30 offers, with schools such as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Louisville, Ohio State and Texas among the programs that already have offered.
With the Seminoles in need of players who can get after quarterbacks off the edge, Davis has the makings of a player who could make sense for Taggart and his staff to get involved with soon.
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