New Florida State head coach Willie Taggart has characterized his offensive philosophy in two words: “lethal simplicity.” And he seems to have stuck with brevity when it comes to his approach to receiver recruiting: land some good ones, and land a bunch.
A significant position of need for the Seminoles, FSU pulled in a handful of diverse and impressive players in its 2018 recruiting class, and our staff broke down what each new ’Nole WR brings to the garnet and gold.
Jordan Young is in the discussion as one of the top receiver prospects in the country for 2018. Young possesses specific traits and skills that could make him a special receiver at the college level and beyond. He checks a ton of boxes with excellent size and length, elite speed (110M Georgia state hurdle champion in high school), plus level balls skills and body control.
Young’s speed allows him to take the top off a defense as a deep threat and be a legit threat to score at any point with the ball in his hands. Young also excels in the red-zone or vs. tight coverage, utilizing his length and body control to adjust to balls thrown outside his frame. He times his jumps well and often times make defensive backs look silly as he goes over top of them to get the ball. Young also has excellent hands and a large catch radius. He effectively finds open space over the middle and has the length and soft hands to catch the ball away from his body and provide a big target for the quarterback. As Young continues to develop, he has the potential to open up an offense, forcing defenses to tilt coverage or provide help because it’s too risky to guard him one-on-one.
Warren Thompson is a big-bodied receiver with large, strong hands. He is able to effectively use his body and size to consistently high point the ball and win at the catch point. He is not just a jump ball receiver. He shows a good feel for working through space over the middle and catching the ball away from his body. Thompson runs well for his size and has above-average acceleration and good speed. He also shows good feet and the ability to get in and out of breaks well. This is an area he has really improved on in high school and will continue to as he works in a college system and continues to tap into some of his natural traits.
As with most receiver prospects out of high school, Thompson is a bit raw at the line of scrimmage in getting off press, but he has shown flashes of eventually turning this into a strength. He should also excel as a blocker, using his size and strength to engage and move defensive backs, an important skill in Taggart’s offense which will probably include more screens and plays on the perimeter. Thompson really has a chance to be a complete receiver down the road and is one FSU fans should be very excited about.
D’Marcus Adams is an explosive receiver with big-time speed. Time and again, Adams separates from defenders with excellent acceleration and long speed. With a slender frame, defensive backs can only hope to get their hands on him to slow him down. Most of the time, they fail. Adams also makes plays after the catch, destroying defenders’ angles with his ability to get to top speed quickly.
Pair Adams’ speed with excellent body control and a natural feel for tracking the ball in the air, and you have a player that should be a great fit in Taggart’s offense, which emphasizes throwing the ball downfield. He was not asked to run a variety of routes in high school, but that might not change much under Taggart. Florida State wants to score fast and score often, and Adams is the type of player who could do just that.
Tre’Shaun Harrison is another explosive receiver who is truly electric with the ball in his hands. He specializes after the catch with elite quickness and vision in the open field. Harrison is a player a coach loves to have, because you find simple ways to get him the ball and let him do the rest.
Additionally, Harrison brings more to the game with excellent speed and ability to gain separation from defensive backs downfield. He makes contested catches vs. tight coverage and has the ability to contort his body to adjust to less-than-perfect throws or high point the ball when it’s up for grabs. As with most receivers coming out of high school, Harrison is still learning the nuances of the position as it relates to route running and releases, but expect Taggart and company to find ways to get this playmaker the football early in his career.
Keyshawn Helton is a 5’9, 160-pound receiver out of West Florida. The first thing that jumps off the screen when watching Helton is his initial burst and quickness. His ability to start, stop, and change direction is some of the best you’ll see. He’s also a smart route runner and knows how to set up defensive backs with his speed and quickness. If defensive backs try to play him deep, he can sink his hips and stop on a dime, making him a difficult cover.
Helton has the ability to play in the slot and appears to have a feel for working in space over the middle. He does a nice job catching the ball with his hands and away from his body, despite not having a ton of length. FSU fans should expect Helton to eventually excel in Taggart’s offense that gets players the ball in space. Helton should also offer value as a returner, something he did well in high school.