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Florida State recruiting picture should clear up this weekend

FSU hopes to beat Alabama for an elite receiver.

Henry Ruggs for the catch

I recently wrote for SB Nation about Florida State’s chance to grab the No. 4 recruiting class nationally.

Florida State may have more top targets remaining than any school other than Alabama.

The Seminoles have just 19 commitments, with nine ranked four or five-stars. As currently comprised, the class is very top heavy, with three five-stars in Mississippi running back Cam Akers, Florida defensive end Josh Kaindoh, and Florida cornerback Stanford Samuels.

FSU might be adding to that in a big way, though, with five or six spots left to fill.

The Seminoles are in a strong position for Marvin Wilson, the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country, out of Houston. They are Alabama’s main competition for Jarez Parks and Henry Ruggs. FSU could flip four-star Tennessee safety commitment Melaik Gray, or Georgia four-star defensive end commitment Robert Beal. Florida State is also a strong contender to hold off Florida and Texas A&M for four-star Texas linebacker Levi Jones. And if it’s not Stanford or Georgia for linebacker Leonard Warner, FSU could be in a good spot. The Seminoles are also battling Stanford for four-star defensive tackle Dalyn Wade-Perry, of New Jersey.

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This weekend will be important, both with players visiting FSU, and with those visiting elsewhere.

Visiting FSU

  • Henry Ruggs, the four-star receiver from Montgomery (Ala.), is making his official. Alabama, however, got a shot to go in-home before the official. I don’t believe Florida is seriously in it for Ruggs (even though he will visit Alabama). FSU has to hit this official visit out of the park if it wants to have a legitimate chance to pull Ruggs. It will need to sell playing time (only five scholarship receivers return), and that its offense passes more than Alabama’s. Alabama gets the official visit on the 20th. A good Alabama source tells me that Ruggs is the No. 1 WR prospect remaining on the Tide’s board, so you can rule out the possibility of Alabama not having room for him. Ruggs has a basketball game Friday, so he will not be in until early Saturday.
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  • FSU will be trying to firm things up with three-star QB commit James Blackman, of Glades Central. Some WVU media, presumably talking with WVU sources, believe West Virginia will be able to flip Blackman as long as he makes his visit on the 20th. FSU will be trying to convince him to stick with his FSU pledge. Blackman is an important commitment, because it has a high floor commit in Bailey Hockman, and Blackman represents the raw, extreme upside pledge. FSU can sell a very thin QB depth chart.
  • LB/DB Decalon Brooks, the son of FSU legend Derrick Brooks, is also visiting. Brooks is extremely firm in his pledge to FSU.

Visiting elsewhere

This might be the more important section. The intel to come out of the visits to other places will tell us a lot about where FSU stands.

  • 5-star DT Marvin Wilson, of Houston, is heading to LSU this weekend on his official. But FSU went in-home with him first. That’s a smart move, attempting to anticipate LSU’s pitch, and reinforcing FSU’s.
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  • Four-star Tennessee safety commit Maleik Gray, from the Nashville area, is visiting Tennessee. This is big. I expect Tennessee’s coaches to try to convince him to firm up his commitment, and to not take the planned try to FSU next week. If he keeps his visit to Tallahassee, I expect the Seminoles can flip him.
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  • Four-star LB Levi Jones, of Austin (Texas), is making his official visit to Florida this weekend. I feel good about FSU’s chances here, and the Seminoles will have to hold off the Gators, Aggies, and Trojans. I spoke with Jones around the New Year.

Florida has a connection with four-star linebacker Levi Jones, of Austin (Texas) Westlake — his father played for linebackers coach (and potential defensive coordinator hire) Randy Shannon at Miami. However, Jones says that FSU is on top for him, and that his dad prefers the Seminoles. But watch out for Texas A&M. Jones has some friends on the Aggies. Official visits to Gainesville and Tallahassee are set, with A&M, and either UCLA or USC as other options.

FSU gets the last visit, with USC getting one on the 20th.

  • Four-star DT Dalyn Wade-Perry, of New Jersey, is on his official visit to Stanford. Stanford rarely loses kids if it admits them academically, and gets on campus for visits. Wade-Perry visited FSU earlier in the year, and despite some Penn State chatter, I believe Stanford is FSU’s main competition.
  • Four-star safety Hamsah Nasirildeen, of Concord (NC), is visiting South Carolina this weekend, where he is committed. Like Tennessee with Gray, and FSU with Blackman, you can bet that South Carolina will attempt to get the kid to shut down his recruitment and remain committed to the Gamecocks.
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  • DT commit teammates Corey Durden and Ja’Len Parks of Newberry (Fla.), are visiting Louisville. Sources close to the recruitment told me recently that they just want to enjoy the trips, and that FSU has nothing to worry about. Coincidentally, three-star defensive end Tre Lawson, of North Augusta (SC), is also visiting Louisville this weekend. He is scheduled to official to Florida State on the 27th.


  • If you missed it, FSU 4-star WR commit D.J. Matthews is no longer enrolling early. He says it is to play hoops to honor a friend who was killed.
  • There was some skepticism from some fans about FSU missing on bigger targets when the Seminoles took a pair of lightly-recruited players Thursday. I believe FSU may take a slightly larger class than expected. There are a number of players on the roster, who, if they care about playing time or football, should look to transfer, as they have been passed up by more talented underclassmen. There are also a small handful of players who simply never returned to form after suffering serious injuries, and should think about accepting a medical hardship, which keeps them on scholarship for classes, but off the official cap of 85 players. Managing the bottom 10-15 players on the roster is important.
  • Still no word on when four-star RB commit Khalon Laborn will take his official to FSU, or if he has made a qualifying score yet. But also no word on him officialing anywhere else, either.
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Posted by on Sunday, January 1, 2017