Tuesday, we caught up on Florida State's offensive recruiting. Now we turn to the defense. The defensive equation has a lot more variables, and coaches are making visits daily now to see recruits all over the country.
Current defensive class: 5-star (1) | 4-star (5) | 3-star (3)
FSU will bring back 14 defensive linemen (including stand-up defensive end types like Jacob Pugh) in 2016, and attrition of one or two is reasonable. Look for Florida State to sign four or five including at least two ends and two tackles.
The Seminoles currently have two interior players committed in Walvenski Aime, a JUCO DT from Kansas, and Cedric Wood, from Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby. FSU is in good shape at defensive tackle, though you never turn down elite defensive tackle prospects if they want to jump in the boat. If say, Shavar Manuel of IMG Academy wants to renew his interest in FSU in a serious way, FSU would make room.
Edge is a different story, however. Josh Brown of North Carolina and Jamal Couch of Alabama are weak-side ends or standup outside linebacker types (think Jacob Pugh's role when FSU plays a 3-4, though one or both could potentially play true linebacker). Brown is rock solid to the Seminoles, while Couch could, in theory, receive interest from Auburn down the stretch. Janarius Robinson, of Panama City (Fla.) Bay is a four-star strong-side defensive end. He is far from solid to FSU, and has legitimate interest in Alabama, Florida and minor interest in Georgia (we'll see how this changes with Georgia's new staff). Robinson is the one to watch here.
Because of the uncertainty there (as well as the uncertainty production by some of the returning players like Chris Casher and Lorenzo Featherston) FSU is continuing to target a number of defensive ends. FSU is still actively pursuing four-star Brian Burns of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage, who seems to be favoring the Gators; five-star Oluwole Betiku of Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra, who seems to be favoring USC and Texas A&M; and four-star Terrell Hall of Washington D.C., who is visiting Florida State on December 11 and recently received an in-home visit from FSU, but most believe he will end up at Alabama if the Tide has room. Landing one of those three would be a great scenario for FSU.
FSU is also keeping a close eye on Hollywood (Fla.) Miramar's Terrell Lucas; Miami commit Patrick Bethel of Vero Beach and North Carolina commit Tomon Fox, of Suwanee (Ga.).
Six true linebackers (not hybrid ends/backers) return for FSU and attrition of one or none is reasonable, meaning Florida State will look to take at least three true backers in 2016. As of now FSU has one committed in Emmett Rice, of Miami (Fla.) Norland.
It is targeting four-star Dontavious Jackson, of Houston, who is also considering Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama; Devin Bush Jr., of Hollywood (Fla.) Flanagan (son of FSU legend Devin Bush); Keion Joyner of Havelock (NC); Zach McCloud, of Lake Worth (Fla.); and Jonathan Jones of Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge.
Of those, I feel the best about Bush Jr., and I am very confident that FSU will sign a class of excellent linebacker prospects. The Seminoles have identified the need and it appears will get it done.
Florida State returns 11 defensive backs in 2016 but the assumption is that Jalen Ramsey will turn pro, meaning Florida State will likely be in the market for four or five defensive backs.
FSU currently has three defensive backs committed. Levonta Taylor is a five-star cornerback from Virginia Beach and will threaten for immediate playing time and should win the punt returner job; Jamel Cook of Miami Central is a four-star safety from Miami (Fla.) Central; and Kyle Meyers, a solid cover cornerback from New Orleans.
There are some major targets left on the board. The biggest of which is Trayvon Mullen, of Coconut Creek (Fla.), a five-star corner for whom FSU is battling LSU, Florida, Alabama and others, but seems to be in a strong position. The Seminoles are also involved with Jayvaughn Myers, of Pasco (Fla.) Dade City, who happens to be the half brother of five-star receiver Nate Craig-Myers; and with Carlos Becker, of Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola, who could also play safety. FSU is also in on safety Brandon Burton, of Serra (Calif.), and is fighting the California schools for him.
It's a very good bet that FSU can land one or two of those remaining three. But they are also keeping an eye on KJ Sails, of East Bay.
Florida State has a chance to close with an excellent defensive class. And you can be sure that a number of new defensive names will emerge as the coaches sit down during this break between games to really dig in to the film.