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Seminoles targeting lengthy, athletic pass rushers in 2019 cycle
Florida State signed four defensive ends in the 2018 class, with more emphasis on bigger, edge-setting prospects that would be designated as strongside defensive ends.
Considering that the Seminoles already hold commitments from 4-star Lehigh Acres (Fla.) defensive end Quashon Fuller and 4-star Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage defensive end Mike Morris — both of whom are rated as strong-side defensive ends—in the 2019 class, the focus moving forward at the position will be on more lengthy and athletic types at that spot.
Even though Fuller is looking around at other schools, for coach Willie Taggart and defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett, the Seminoles are likely to place more emphasis on prospects rated as weakside defensive ends.
The model for this position in the Seminoles current scheme is junior Brian Burns.
Which players are classified as top targets heading into the spring and where do their recruitments stand?
Let’s take a look as we break down the Seminoles board at the defensive end spot.
Current best bets to land in FSU’s class: Derick Hunter, 4-stars, Lloyd Summerall, 4-stars
Cleaning up things with the strongside defensive end spot, if there’s one clear focus for Florida State there, it’s 4-star Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar standout Derick Hunter. The 6-foot-4, 281-pound in-state product rates as the nation’s No. 15 strongside defensive end and the No. 186 player overall in the 2019 cycle, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He was present for Florida State’s junior day event in February, and had a prep teammate — 2020 athlete Jadarius McKnight — who announced his commitment to the Seminoles on that visit. Florida, Georgia, Miami and Maryland appear to be the other main suitors involved with Hunter at this time. His leaderboard has fluctuated, but expect the Seminoles to remain in the thick of his recruitment until it concludes.
— Lloyd Summerall lll (@HimsoHam) February 18, 2018
Another player who made it to junior day last month is 4-star Auburndale (Fla.) Senior defensive end Lloyd Summerall. The 6-5, 218-pound edge rusher fits the mold of what the Seminoles are looking for in terms of pass-rushing ends. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Miami are among the other schools in the mix with him, but the Seminoles appear to be the team in front.
Other top options: Khris Bogle, 4-stars, Brandon Smith, 4-stars, Kayvon Thibodeaux, 5-stars
Joining Summerall among the top in-state options is 4-star Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons defensive end Khris Bogle. The 6-4, 207-pound Bogle has Clemson and Miami hot on his trail, and his recruitment could become another showdown between in-state rivals in the Hurricanes and the Seminoles. Miami has gotten him on campus numerous times in recent months. The Seminoles are working to get him to Tallahassee in the near future. Right now, the Hurricanes may have the slight edge.
A pair of out-of-state targets that figure to get the attention of the staff include 4-star Mineral (Va.) Louisa County defensive end Brandon Smith and 5-star Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The previous Florida State staff was involved with Smith and got him to visit campus last year. He was high on the program at that time, but his status with the new staff remains a mystery. The 6-5, 215-pound Smith rates as the nation’s No. 4 weakside defensive end and the No. 35 player overall in the 2019 cycle. Given his familiarity with the program, the Seminoles could become a factor with him again if the staff reaches out in an effort to rebuild that relationship.
With Thibodeaux — the top overall prospect in the 2019 class regardless of position — he’s a player that Taggart likely recruits until the very end hoping to be among his final group. He was supposed to visit last weekend. However, the Seminoles were on spring break so he only made it to Florida. He’s hoping to reschedule to make it to the spring game on April 14. If he does, that could help the Seminoles make a move up his list.
Next who could receive an offer: Rian Davis, 3-stars
Prospects who have the versatility to play multiple positions can provide great flexibility for college defensive coordinators. Either they play more than one position or they can play a position with hybrid characteristics or responsibilities.
That could be the case with 3-star Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva defensive end Rian Davis. The 6-3, 225-pound Davis could be an outside linebacker or defensive end at the next level. Since the Seminoles need help at both positions, his versatility could result in Florida State offering him in the near future.
He’s landed 30 offers, with schools such as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Louisville, Ohio State and Texas among the programs who have already offered.
With the Seminoles in need of players who can get after quarterbacks off the edge, Davis has the makings of a player who could make sense for Taggart and his staff to get involved with in the near future.
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