Florida State currently holds commitments from six defensive players. One is rated five stars by the 247sports composite, a blending of ratings from the four major services, while three others are rated four stars, and two are rated three stars. Keep in mind that this early in the process, ratings are very dynamic. Depending on which players it can sign, and which can enroll early, we project Florida State will sign between 11-14 defensive players in this cycle. As with the offensive side of the ball, I remain confident that Florida State will sign another large class with more four- and five-star players than two- and three-star players, which is the formula for winning national titles in the BCS era.
Florida State has a major defensive line need this year, and is likely to take five or more players. The Seminoles have offered at last 25 defensive ends by my count. They are in good position for Virginia five-star defensive end Josh Sweat, and South Carolina four-star Michael Barnett, of South Carolina, who is also high on Georgia and LSU. FSU is also in good position for Georgia four-star defensive end Austin Bryant.
FSU continues to pursue Florida five-stars CeCe Jeferson and Byron Cowart, though both favor the Gators at this time, as well as Texas four-star James Lockhart, who is also considered a bit of a long shot.
Keep in mind that at this time last year, names like FSU four-star signees Lorenzo Featherston and Rick Leonard were not bandied about too much by Florida State fans. More names are sure to emerge at camp.
On the interior, the Seminoles currently hold a commitment from defensive tackle Kendick Norton, of Trinity Christian in Jacksonville. Norton is also being pursued heavily by Auburn and Florida and FSU will have to fight to keep him. 6/4 update: Norton did indeed decommit.
FSU has long been the favorite for 6'2, 320-pound Darvin Taylor II, of Virginia, and he's a very important target for the Seminoles.
Florida State offered 6'2, 311-pound four-star defensive tackle Neville Gallimore of Ottawa (Canada) Sunday after his dominant performance at the Nike Camp in Columbus. I was there and spoke with him and he did not have much to say and has clearly been coached to not give way any information.
Gallimore is a very good prospect and in my opinion is better than any defensive tackle in the state of Florida. FSU currently holds a commitment from Kendrick Norton, of Jacksonville, who I consider to be one of the best in the state for 2015. But the defensive tackle crop is very weak this year in Florida at this point, so it is even more important that 2014 signee Demarcus Christmas makes it in to school academically. He's set to report the third week in June with the rest of the summer enrollees, and while people were worried about him not making it in, I have not heard anything truly negative about his chances, which I'll take as a positive sign.
FSU also continues to chase other top defensive tackles, like five-stars Shy Tuttle (who is very tight with North Carolina four-star defensive end Jalen Dalton, also being recruited by FSU) and Tim Settle, and JUCO defensive tackle D.J. Jones.
Tomahawk Nation has long expected Florida State to take a JUCO player at defensive tackle, and that's a spot where JUCO players often emerge later in the process.
I still believe Florida State will take two linebackers in the class, though some believe that current three-star commitment Brian Bell will be the only linebacker signed by FSU. In any case, don't look for the school to accept a commitment from a second linebacker in the near future unless he is far too good to pass up.
Four-star Sh'mar Kilby-Lane, of Hallandale, would be one of those players if FSU can land him. And FSU continues to chase national superstar types at the position. For those wondering, I don't get the sense that FSU has any traction with four-star Jeff Holland, of Jacksonville.
Defensive back is a crucial position for Florida State this year. And FSU has been extremely proactive in addressing the positions. Some believe five-star safety commit Derwin James is the best safety to come out of Florida in years. Three-star Calvin Brewton is a nice No. 2 safety to pair with James, and offers some versatility for the class, and a huge FSU fan. The top remaining target at safety seems to be Jamal Peters, a four-star from Mississippi. Tim Brewster is handling his recruitment, and FSU is near the top of his list as of last week.
At cornerback, FSU already holds commitments from four-star Tyrek Cole, who is still very open in his recruitment, and three-star A.J. Westbrook, who FSU intends to begin at cornerback, despite some services being listed at safety. Westbrook is a player I believe should be rated four-stars.
The primary target for FSU at cornerback remains five-star Tarvarus McFadden, a tremendous player with great size. I currently project McFadden to be a Seminole. There are other targets, as well, but McFadden seems like the most reasonable projection of an elite player here at this point. Look for FSU to continue to evaluate players like Sunshine-staters Ryan Pulley, Damon Arnette, and Davante Davis.
On top of that, I would project Florida State to take an additional player or two, for a total of six or seven total in the secondary.