The first big visit weekend of the Willie Taggart era at Florida State went from big to huge.
Originally, the Seminoles had 6 official visitors scheduled to be in Tallahassee this weekend.
That list has now almost doubled and now sits at 11.
They later added 3-star Tampa Bay [Fla.] Tech quarterback Michael Penix, who earned a Seminoles offer earlier in the week and subsequently reopened his recruitment after being committed to Tennessee since April. However, that wasn’t a huge surprise since he went back on the market earlier in the week.
Former receiver commitment Antoine Green also returned to Tallahassee, but he’s another name familiar to Seminoles fans and to the team’s recruiting board.
Tallahassee this weekend 📍
— Antoine Green (@_yg_qualified) December 15, 2017
That doesn’t mean Taggart didn’t have something up his sleeve nonetheless. Instead, despite making the first hire to his staff this week, the new Seminoles leader was able to get 3 of the nation’s top 50 overall prospects to visit Florida State this weekend — somewhat at the last minute.
According to Josh Newberg of Noles247, the Seminoles welcomed 4-star running back and current Georgia commit James Cook and 4-star corner Brendan Radley-Hiles to campus with the rest of the official visitors that came in on Friday evening.
Cook, who rates as the nation’s No. 3 running back and the No. 31 player overall in the 2018 cycle, was initially committed to Florida State before reopening his recruitment and choosing Georgia in October.
However, the aforementioned hire that Taggart made earlier in the week was tight ends coach Telly Lockette — who once coached Cook’s older brother and former Seminoles star rusher Dalvin Cook when he was the head coach at Miami [Fla.] Central High School.
While it’s unclear if that had anything to do with Cook deciding to visit Florida State this weekend, it’s a detail that certainly couldn’t hurt the Seminoles chances. Additionally, the Seminoles had 2 running back commits at the time Cook backed off his commitment to FSU.
The Seminoles currently do not have any running backs committed after going through the coaching transition from Jimbo Fisher to Taggart.
— .44 (@Bookie_44) December 10, 2017
Radley-Hiles rates as the nation’s No. 7 corner and the No. 47 player overall in the 2018 class. He earned an offer from the Seminoles on Sunday. He was originally supposed to take an official visit to Florida this weekend, but instead opted to visit Tallahassee.
If that wasn’t enough, another visitor is on the way today.
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound Woodbey rates as the nation’s No. 2 safety and the No. 27 player overall in the 2018 cycle. Like Radley-Hiles, he was offered by Florida State earlier this week. It’s safe to say the offer made an impact since he’s elected to check out Tallahassee this weekend.
All I want to do is be a newer version of @jalenramsey
— ⚡️THOR ⚡️ (@JaidenWoodbey) July 24, 2016
What makes the recruitments of Cook, Radley-Hiles and Woodbey even more intriguing is that all three players plan to sign in the early signing period. If that holds true, it’s a masterful job by Taggart in getting them on campus and having Florida State be the last school on their minds before they make a final decision.
While all three players could still elect to head elsewhere, it’s still a testament to Taggart’s prowess and relentlessness as a recruiter to get on their radar and put the Seminoles in the mix in such a short period of time.
At the very least, the buzz that Taggart has brought to Tallahassee is clearly something that is appealing to elite recruits and this could be a sign of things to come until the dust settles on the 2018 class in February.