All in all, Willie Taggart and his staff did great work in a short amount of time.
The ground work was laid, and all these players fit. Now, if FSU wins in the fall, then look for the Seminoles to challenge for a top-five spot in the 2019 recruiting cycle. A lot of coaches are buzzing about what is going on at FSU. But at some point, it must translate on the field.
Seminole Nation is getting on board more and more each day – even the skeptics must respect the finish – but you are measured by championships, conference and national, not by recruiting classes.
Overall grade: B. The class looked to be on the brink of disaster when Taggart took over, but you have to be pleased with how the staff closed. That this class finished rank so high without it being a full class is incredible. The grade would’ve been a B+ with the signing of QB James Foster.
Offensive class: B. Again, had there been a quarterback in this class, it would’ve made it more complete. There is quality in every position group except quarterback. But there are three quarterbacks already on scholarship, and if you’re down to your third-string quarterback, you have huge problems. There is depth at wide receiver; there are big, physical guys in Warren Thompson and Jordan Young and shifty guys in Keyshawn Helton and D’Marcus Adams. Add Tre’Shaun Harrison to the mix and one could argue that these playmakers are perfect for Taggart’s offense in combination with what is already on the roster. Anthony Grant is an explosive running back. And the added depth for the offensive line is a great addition; some of the defensive linemen, such as Chaz Neal, are said to be switching over.
Defensive class: B. Every position group was taken care of and the grade could’ve been higher had FSU brought in a few more pass rushers. Four-star S Jaiden Woodbey is the headliner, and he really turned heads when he requested a scholarship via social media. That let Seminoles fans see the disconnect of the previous regime, as many top guys weren’t even offered. Continuing to add depth to the secondary that has plenty of talent is going to be necessary with coordinator Harlon Barnett wanting to put DBs on islands and bring pressure. Adding a true nose tackle in Robert Cooper and players such as Jamarcus Chatman, who can play end or the 3 technique, help add depth and versatility to one of the deepest position groups at FSU. Malcolm Lamar was much-needed. The biggest weakness on this FSU team is the defensive end group. Position coach Mark Snyder needs bodies. Amari Gainer and Xavier Peters remind me of Seminoles linebackers of old. The Seminoles need a violent linebacker who can set the tone, and they have that in Peters. Gainer is the sideline-to-sideline linebacker needed against today’s spread offenses.
Best recruiter: Willie Taggart is that dude when it comes to recruiting, but the gem on that staff is Raymond Woodie, aka “the closer.” He is everything that was rumored and glamorized about Tim Brewster. Quite simply, when Woodie got with a recruit, the kid became a ’Nole. I’m interested in seeing him with a full recruiting cycle.
Biggest signee: S Jaiden Woodbey. He is the highest-ranked recruit in this class. After watching film on him, I’m excited to see if he can become a version of Derwin James, only better in coverage.
Biggest miss: QB James Foster. I don’t believe that FSU absolutely needed a quarterback, and had he signed I think he would’ve redshirted. But Taggart needs his quarterback to be on the roster. Defensively, I would’ve liked to have seen FSU really go after Caleb Tannor, who signed with Nebraska, with a more concentrated effort. In addition, it would’ve been great if FSU could’ve flipped CB Brendan Radley-Hiles, who signed with Oklahoma.
Hidden gem: WR Keyshawn Helton. Much is made about his lack of size, but watch his film against Jacksonville Trinity Christian and Ohio State five-star signee Tyrese Johnson in the state playoffs. Helton has moves and is shifty. Just as an offense needs taller receivers who can go up and get the 50/50 ball, it’s just as necessary to have shifty guys in space.
Offensive signee most likely to make immediate impact: WR Jordan Young. How he fell through the recruiting cracks benefited FSU, as it had to beat out only one school (Tennessee). Young, from the Atlanta suburbs, is a state-champion hurdler with elite speed and body control. He can take off the top of the defense. He is hungry and has a chip on his shoulder. Look at him to get on the field and #DoSomething this fall.
Defensive signee most likely to make immediate impact: DE Malcolm Lamar and LB Xavier Peters, just by pure numbers. If Lamar isn’t able to crack the two-deep and get snaps in the rotation, then he is a big miss. At 6 feet 5 and 250 pounds, he has the size to get on the field immediately. He probably needs to get stronger. I’ve been underwhelmed by the play from the linebackers the past few seasons, and Peters needs to be the big hitter at that spot.
Expect these guys to redshirt: Chaz Neal, Isiah Bolden, Jalen Goss. I’m sure there will be others, but the depth on the offensive line and in the secondary gives the staff the opportunity to allow some guys to be able to get stronger and acclimated to what is going to be required of them. Redshirting isn’t a bad thing – I don’t understand the stigma – and some guys need to gain weight and learn about the required toughness and durability. I think offensive line coach Greg Frey likes what he sees in his linemen and is more concerned with getting more out of what he already is on the roster.
Head-scratchers: Why the lack of recruitment of four-star OT Richard Gouraige of Tampa Cambridge Christian? I’m hearing that had FSU brought him on campus, he would’ve flipped. And why did Seffner Armwood LB James Miller choose Indiana? I fully understand why Tampa Bay Tech QB Michael Penix chose Indiana over FSU – the ability to see the field – but I’m not sure about Miller. (IU coach Tom Allen is a former Armwood assistant, though.) There may have been issues with the mom being a bit upset about the late offer. The dad was all in, but either way, as Taggart said at his news conference, he wants to recruit kids who truly want to be Seminoles.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/florida-state-2018-recruiting-class/