Sanjay Kirpalani/DieHards
Florida State coach Willie Taggart and his staff have assembled the top 2019 class in the country to date, but can the Seminoles keep that rating until the end of the cycle?

Florida State recruiting mailbag: What are chances FSU keeps No. 1 class?

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 whether Florida State can hang onto the No. 1 recruiting class, 

First up this week, we have Glenn Rainey getting straight to the point: Can Florida State hold onto the nation’s No. 1 class?

Well, Glenn, before we answer that, I think it’s important to remember how we got here to the point where coach Willie Taggart and his staff have assembled 2019’s top-rated class.

In the six months since he’s planted his feet in Tallahassee, Taggart has assembled a staff of top-notch recruiters, rebuilt the Seminoles 2018 class into a group that just finished a hare outside of the top 10 nationally, reinvigorated a fanbase that was frustrated by how the Jimbo Fisher-era ended, reignited the pride of former Seminoles players, worked hard to get the current members of the team to buy into his vision and put together a spring game that had the largest fan turnout of anyone in the country to date.

As it relates to the 2019 class, Florida State has hosted a bevy of elite recruits on its campus over the last two months and its paid off in the form of six commitments since March. In addition to those commitments, there’s a buzz and wave of positive energy surrounding the program that hasn’t been present since perhaps the first few years of the Fisher era.

Pretty impressive, huh?

I bring up all of these things to note how great Taggart and his staff have been on the recruiting trail. That means the Seminoles will have a shot to hold onto the No. 1 ranking.

Ultimately, I think whether or not it happens will depend on how things go on the field for Florida State in the fall. If the Seminoles have another 7 or 8-win season, I don’t see them being able to fully capitalize on the momentum they have now. Get to 9 or 10 wins or even better, I think the chances to hold onto the top spot increase dramatically. With a smaller class size, you have to hit on a majority of your top remaining targets and the Seminoles have to make a dent nationally with 5-star prospects such as Thousand Oaks (Calif.) Oaks Christian defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux [more on him later].

I think Florida State ultimately ends up with a top 5 overall class, perhaps even top 3. My reason is that I don’t think the Seminoles will have a large class of 22-25 members. I think it will be around 20-21, and the low number will ultimately help a school with a larger class beat FSU out. I’d put the chances of the Seminoles remaining on top around 25 percent.

Next, speaking of which, Alex Perez asks if the Seminoles can sign the nation’s top overall recruit in Thibodeaux?

Well, Alex, the short answer is infinitely better than they were a week ago at this time.

But, taking a deep dive into things from a Florida State perspective, getting him on campus last weekend was a case of perfect timing. You can hear directly from Thibodeaux here as he’s put his thoughts on the visit in blog form for USA Today. The main takeaway is that the Seminoles rolled out the red carpet for him and he came away impressed as he rated the visit a perfect 10. His mother accompanied him and the Seminoles did a good job of showcasing what their program was about on and off the field. Perhaps more importantly, he’s already confirmed that he’ll be back for the season-opening contest against Virginia Tech for an official visit, as detailed by Noles247’s Josh Newberg.

Of course, with Thibodeaux being the nation’s top overall prospect, he will have schools around the country beating down his doors until he makes a decision. Alabama, LSU, Oregon and USC are among the other main contenders in his recruitment. However, for now, the Seminoles have to be considered a legit threat to sign him as things stand today. Anytime you are dealing with a kid having to make a decision to attend school across the country, it will be tough for him to ultimately make that call. However, his mother being on his unofficial visit was a big factor in alleviating that concern and it appears as if the family is on board should he decide to leave his home state for college.

Given the need they have for pass-rushing defensive ends and his comfort and familiarity with the coaching staff, I think the Seminoles have as good a shot as anyone on his short list to ultimately sign him. As long as things continue to trend positively with Thibodeaux, I expect the Seminoles to have a realistic chance of signing him when all is said and done.

Finally, Jeff Burrow asks about 4-star defensive end commits Mike Morris and Quashon Fuller and whether or not they will stay in the class with the way things look now for the Seminoles with the defensive end position?

Keeping with the defensive end theme, I think there will be some dominoes that fall with the defensive end board shortly. Before we jump into this heavily, I just want to make a quick point. Both Morris and Fuller are rated as strongside defensive ends while Thibodeaux and 4-star defensive ends Khris Bogle and Lloyd Summerall are considered weakside pass rushers. Considering that FSU took three strong-side types in the 2018 class, the Seminoles have a bigger need with the rangy, athletic types in this cycle.

So in essence, I don’t think Morris and Fuller remaining in the class is solely dependent on how things go with Thibodeaux, Bogle and Summerall. It’s quite possible the staff could take a big group of at least five prospects at defensive end this year.

With that out of the way, let’s focus on the two committed prospects for a second. Both Morris and Fuller have been committed to the Seminoles for more than a year. Also, both players have been on campus to meet with Taggart and the new staff. However, both players have been active in taking visits to other schools. The Seminoles have offered a handful of other strongside defensive ends in this cycle, but few have emerged as legit targets at this stage.

I think the staff wants to keep both players, simply because it’s hard to find talented and athletic bodies and both are national level prospects. However, if one or both give signs about being hesitant with their pledges, the Seminoles could move in another direction. I think it will be important to see how things play out when the coaches make their next round of visits during the upcoming evaluation period. Either way, clarity on the status of their commitments should come at some point in the near future.

As it relates to Thibodeaux, Bogle and Summerall, the staff would gladly take all three and consider it a home run of a class. A fourth player to watch is 4-star Tucker (Ga.) defensive end Derrick McLendon. Defensive end is one of the Seminoles biggest needs in this class, so expect a lot of movement at that spot in the coming months.