Have Florida State football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. You can tweet @Sanjay Kirpalani or @NolesDieHards with your questions. Join us every Friday for the Florida State DieHards recruiting mailbag to discuss Seminoles recruiting. This week, we discuss …. where things stand with potential commitments, especially at defensive end.
First up this week, we have Ken Hudson asking about the Seminoles recruiting efforts in the fertile recruiting territory of South Florida.
First off, Ken, let’s examine things as they currently stand.
For starters, Florida State currently has 10 commits and a 2019 class currently rated No. 4 nationally, according to the 247Sports team rankings. Of those 10 pledges, only one is originally from Dade — 4-star Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy guard Dontae Lucas, who originally hails from the Miami area and was at Southridge High School before transferring to IMG. But if you include talent-rich Broward and Palm Beach counties — just north of Dade but still in South Florida, the Seminoles have three commits.
Included among that figure is 5-star West Palm Beach Central corner Akeem Dent, who was originally committed to rival Miami before reopening his recruitment and then subsequently electing to cast his lot with the Seminoles.
Additionally, the Seminoles are heavily in the mix for South Florida standouts such as 4-star Miami Southridge cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, 4-star Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons defensive end Khris Bogle and 4-star Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna receiver John Dunmore. Of that group, the Seminoles appear to be in the best shape for Dunmore.
A few factors have contributed to the Seminoles losing some of the momentum they enjoyed when they were pulling some of the talent that Ken named. For starters, there’s the coaching change from Jimbo Fisher to Willie Taggart. Given that Taggart has been on campus for roughly seven months, it will take time for him to rebuild the Seminoles brand in South Florida. Additionally, the hometown Miami Hurricanes have enjoyed a resurgence under Mark Richt. They have as much momentum as they have had at any point since the program was a title-winning juggernaut decades ago. Finally, schools such as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State have and will continue to raid the area for talent.
If and when the Seminoles return to their winning ways on the field, the results in South Florida are likely to follow. However, Taggart in a short period of time has already laid the groundwork to get the Seminoles back to winning those South Florida recruiting battles.
Next, Glenn Rainey asks whether linebacker or safety is the more critical need in the 2019 cycle.
That’s a pretty good question, and to be honest, both are critical needs because of the depth at both positions.
Since I believe that the Seminoles are in a better spot with some of their top safety targets in the 2019 class, and I expect them to close the deal with at least two quality prospects there, I will say that linebacker is the more important need down the stretch.
I don’t believe that the Seminoles have the inside track on any current top targets.
The Seminoles do have a commitment from 4-star Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy linebacker Jaleel McRae. I believe they would like to at least add two more linebackers to this class.
Some names that could factor into the Seminoles wish list include 5-star Horn Lake (Miss.) linebacker Nakobe Dean, 5-star Louisa (Va.) Mineral County linebacker Brandon Smith, 4-star Auburn (Ala.) linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, 4-star Gulfport (Miss.) linebacker Derick Hall and 4-star Savannah (Ga.) Islands linebacker Kalen Deloach.
The problem is that Florida State doesn’t appear to be in the upper tier of favorites with any of them heading into the summer.
Could that change? With the Seminoles’ need at the position plus the quality of the staff that Taggart has assembled, absolutely.
But not without a lot of work.
Finally, Kennett Luxama asks about whether a tight end is necessary in this class.
Florida State enters the 2018 season with six scholarship tight ends. It’s important to note that two of them — senior Johnathan Vickers and junior Gabe Nabers — were both fullbacks when Fisher was in charged, and Taggart does not use a fullback in his offense.
Vickers will exhaust his eligibility in 2018, leaving the Seminoles with five players at the position entering next season assuming no attrition.
Under the old staff, five tight ends would not be enough, making it a need in the 2019 cycle. Now, however, with numbers at other positions potentially being tight in this class, the Seminoles could just stick with the five tight ends they have.
Another factor to consider here is that similar to linebacker, none of the Seminoles’ top tight end options appear to be leaning Florida State’s way right now. In fact, Florida State has offered just four 2019 tight ends to date, per 247Sports.
Things could change and new targets could emerge later. However, considering the larger needs the Seminoles have at positions such as offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and safety, the possibility of skipping tight end this year seems to a legitimate one unless they are able to lure one of their primary targets.