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QB, defense Seminoles’ likely priorities
Florida State survived the 2018 cycle after hiring coach Willie Taggart in December and closing with a flurry before National Signing Day earlier this month.
With his full staff in place, Taggart has a chance with the 2019 cycle to build one of the nation’s elite classes.
Since the 2011 cycle, Florida State has landed a top 5 class in the 247Sports composite rankings five times.
The Seminoles currently have four commitments and a class that ranks No. 12 nationally.
For the Seminoles to reach that top-5 benchmark in this cycle, Taggart and his staff will have hit on all of their major wants and needs.
So, what would a theoretical wish list look like for 2019? Here are a few main priorities the staff could be looking for to close out the current class.
The primary need for the Seminoles in the 2019 cycle signing the potential quarterback of the future.
But equally as important might be landing a second quarterback because of the current lack of depth. The Seminoles enter 2018 with just three quarterbacks on scholarship in junior Deondre Francois, sophomore James Blackman and freshman Bailey Hockman.
Should any of the three elect to leave FSU after the starter is named entering the season, that depth would become even more perilous.
— Taisun P⚡️ (@tydollaz3) February 7, 2018
The 2019 cycle isn’t particularly deep at quarterback, but the Seminoles have identified three targets early on: 4-star San Bernardino (Calif.) Cajon prospect Jayden Daniels, 4-star Monroe (N.C.) Sun Valley pro-style quarterback Sam Howell, and 4-star Bridgeport (Ct.) Avon Old Farms dual-threat quarterback Taisun Phommachanh.
Both Daniels and Phommachanh have mentioned plans to visit Florida State in the spring.
Landing one of those three is paramount to the foundation of the 2019 class. Landing two would be a home run for the staff. It the Seminoles do land one, they still need to find another passer for that depth.
Similar to quarterback, Florida State enters this season with just six scholarship linebackers.
Four are entering their junior season, which means the Seminoles staff has to act fast to replenish another spot with both talent and depth.
That’s why you could see as many as four linebackers taken in this cycle. If Florida State gets three, I anticipate two being inside linebackers.
— Nakobe Dean (@KobeDean2) February 12, 2018
Some primary targets to watch include 5-star Horn Lake (Miss.) inside linebacker Nakobe Dean, 4-star Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances Academy inside linebacker Shane Lee, 4-star Gulfport (Miss.) outside linebacker Derick Hall, 4-star Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas outside linebacker Avery Huff and 3-star Savannah (Ga.) Islands outside linebacker Kalen DeLoach.
Getting top linebackers on campus in the spring will be pivotal.
5-6 defensive linemen
Florida State already has a trio of defensive linemen committed in 3-star Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive tackle Tru Thompson, 4-star Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage defensive end Mike Morris and 4-star Lehigh Acres (Fla.) defensive end Quashon Fuller.
The Seminoles still have a need for more help inside, however, and lengthier pass rushers since both Morris and Fuller project as strongside defensive ends.
With that in mind, some names to watch at the interior spots include 5-star Amite (La.) defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher, 4-star Largo (Fla.) defensive tackle Jaquaze Sorrells and 4-star Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva defensive tackle Tyler Davis.
LSU , UNC , MARYLAND, FSU , UofSC , AND TCU no official dates on yet https://t.co/vG4Evrz4UZ
— Jaquaze Sorrells (@Jaquaze90) February 19, 2018
Weakside defensive ends to watch include 4-star Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons defensive end Khris Bogle, 4-star Auburndale (Fla.) Senior defensive end Lloyd Summerall and 3-star Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna defensive end Cameron Williams — who is currently committed to Miami.
Another prospect to watch is 4-star Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar defensive end Derick Hunter — who could potentially grow into a tackle in college.
4 offensive linemen
Florida State offensive line coach Greg Frey will be looking to reshape the Seminoles up front.
Florida State brought in four offensive linemen in the 2018 class, but three of them were commitments from the previous staff who stuck with their pledges.
Florida State has three seniors and another pair of fourth-year juniors on its roster this fall, which means the Seminoles could take another big class at that position this fall.
Three of the four linemen brought in in the 2018 cycle project as interior linemen, which means we could see tackle be more of a focus in this class.
— Darnell Wright (@darnell_5232) February 20, 2018
Some early names of interest for the Seminoles include 5-star Huntington (W.Va.) tackle Darnell Wright, 4-star Tampa (Fla.) Plant tackle William Putnam and 3-star Pensacola (Fla.) tackle Adrian Medley.
Adding a true center could also be a possibility, although no players at that position have emerged as targets to date.
Receiver was a critical focus in the 2018 cycle and the position should remain a priority in the 2019 class.
The Seminoles have just one senior on their roster this season, but they figure to want to restock and add balance in terms of age and class.
— Jdsunn__ (@JohnDunmore2) February 17, 2018
The main names to watch at this stage include 5-star Homestead (Fla.) South Dade receiver Frank Ladson, 4-star Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna receiver John Dunmore, 4-star Nashville (Tenn.) Franklin Road Academy receiver Lance Wilhoite and 4-star St. Simons Island (Ga.) Frederica Academy receiver Jashawn Sheffield.
There could be more names that emerge at the position depending on which players make it to campus in the coming months.
Either way, adding more talent to this unit is another focal point for Taggart and his staff.
4-5 defensive backs
Similar to receivers, Florida State brought in four defensive backs in the 2018 class.
Three of the signees are listed as corners while one was brought in to play safety. This cycle, the emphasis will likely be on signing more safeties.
Among the chief tasks for defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett include maintaining the commitment of 5-star West Palm Beach (Fla.) Palm Beach Central corner Akeem Dent. He currently ranks as the nation’s top corner in the 2019 class.
— Andrew Booth Jr. (@andrewbooth21) February 17, 2018
At safety, the Seminoles are looking at names such as 4-star Powder Springs (Ga.) Hillgrove safety Jaylen McCollough, 4-star Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen safety and current Alabama commit Brendan Gant and 4-star Tallahassee (Fla.) University School safety Raymond Woodie III.
Another player who could factor in at corner or safety is 3-star Madison County (Fla.) athlete Travis Jay.
The Seminoles figure to again go defense-heavy in the class and the secondary will likely be a big part of it.
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