Florida State Seminoles football is slated to return 11 offensive linemen in 2019, although attrition of at least one more should be expected. FSU just signed four offensive linemen in the 2018 class and should be looking to sign at least four more in the 2019 class so a minimum number of 14 can be achieved (11-1+4=14). Here’s a general rundown of the position. Getting into position specifics, FSU needs to sign at least two tackles, almost certainly including a JUCO.
Taking five or six offensive linemen wouldn’t be a bad idea, seeing as a few current players are looking like lost causes. FSU’s offensive line was an absolute disaster this year, due mostly to injury and attrition (along with lack of development from the prior staff). It wrecked the season. They got their butts kicked each and every week.
So many players on the roster never project to amount to anything, and the situation is dire. Some have lost crucial developmental time to injury; some have mental meltdowns in games; some are still tissue-paper soft; others just lack talent.
It’s not a stretch to think FSU’s starting five on the offensive line next year will be completely different than what it was against Florida.
FSU’s OL likely won’t be above average in 2019, but if it can just go from the worst in the Power 5 to below average, that’s still a huge leap.
Dontae Lucas, IMG Academy: Lucas is a top offensive guard target for Florida State. He’s 6’3, 330, with great power. FSU tight ends coach Telly Lockette coached his brother Marquis (WVU signee, most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) when he was the head coach at Miami Central. Lucas is expected to be an early enrollee, and if he arrives in shape, he’ll have a chance to start as a true freshman.
Note: This list is relevant, realistic offers. For example: If FSU offers a California athlete who has already committed to USC and is a legacy of the Trojans, we won’t waste your time listing him unless the player shows a real interest. Early on in the year, more long-shots will be included as we learn the new staff’s recruiting strengths and preferences.
- Evan Neal, Bradenton (Fla) IMG Academy: Neal is a massive right tackle at 6’7, 360. FSU just signed his cousin in Chaz Neal. Neal is a former Alabama commitment, but seems open in his recruitment. Miami is also a major contender. He is originally from Okeechobee.
- Will Putnam, Tampa (Fla) Plant: FSU is Putnam’s most recent offer and the ’Noles will be on him hard. Putnam is listed at 6’4, 280, but some think he can play tackle, while most think he’s a guard. Clemson and Auburn are the major competition here.
- Charles Cross, Laurel (Miss), Laurel: Cross has excellent length and the frame to add mass. Cross decommitted from Florida State on 11/20/18. Mississippi State is now considered the favorite. It seems doubtful FSU can get Cross to leave the state after this season.
- Desmond Bland, Flossmoor (IL) Arizona Western College: Bland is the top JUCO offensive guard prospect. He’s currently committed to Nebraska, but has recently lined up a visit to Florida State.
- Dawand Jones, Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis: A late riser in the 2019 class, Jones is massive (6’8”, 360 lbs). Jones also plays on his school’s basketball team:
Big Fella 6'8” 360 Ibs OFFENSIVE TACKLE Dawand Jones IS A NASTY MAN CHILD ON THE BASKETBALL COURT TOO Absolutely unstoppable.... @GiantAthletics @BenDavisFB @SLAM_HS #inthegymhoops_ #inthegymhoops #bigfella #indianapolis #basketball @BleacherReport @dawand_jones @BenDavisFanPag1 pic.twitter.com/V4p8W6N4rc— In The Gym Hoops (@inthegymhoops_) November 25, 2018
He has set up a visit to Florida State. OL coach Greg Frey has a connection to Indianapolis.
- Jay Williams, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Grossmont College: JUCO tackle Williams is visiting Florida State on December 14. FSU offered on December 6. He’s also planning to visit Indiana and has another visit he could take before enrolling early.
- Charles Turner, IMG Academy (Fla.): Turner is a versatile prospect who’s committed to LSU, but has visited FSU several times. If I was Florida State, I’d try to flip Turner.
- Maurice Smith, Miami (Fla.) Central: Smith is a three-star interior lineman who has played a lot of good snaps against elite competition. He is not a superstar recruit, but FSU also badly needs to raise the floor of the position. He is currently committed to Boston College.
- Nick Pendley, Canton (Ga.) Creekview: Pendley is a three-star tackle who has added offers from Missouri, Mississippi State, North Carolina, and Indiana in the last six weeks.
- Ira Henry, St. Louis (MO) Trinity Catholic: Florida State offered the 6’5 tackle on December 7. We’ll see if he wants to take a visit.
It’s clear FSU will likely need to expand its board, perhaps after the Early Signing Period arrives. FSU badly needs to get some bodies into the program. It’s clear the staff was aiming high before the offensive line collapsed due to injury, thus tanking the season.
- Robert Jones, Chicago (IL) Highland C.C.: Jones is a JUCO OT with good size. He is 6’5”, 295 lbs. He holds offers from Southern Miss and others.
- Bamidele Olaseni, London (EN) Garden City C.C.: Olaseni is a massive OT (6’6”, 330 lbs.) He is the number 3 JUCO OT with offers from Utah, Arkansas, Mississippi State and others.
- Brandon Rolfe, Dallas (TX) Ellsworth C.C.: Rolfe is a new JUCO name that is starting to rise on school’s radars. Rolfe is a 6’5”, 285 lb offensive tackle. You can see his highlight video here:
11/27: Added: Bland, Jones, and Williams. Putnam looks to be down to Florida State, Clemson, and Auburn. Neal’s an outside chance, but hasn’t eliminated the ’Noles.
FSU also likely needs to land a grad transfer. If FSU wants to take 2-3 JUCO/transfers, and 2-3 high schoolers, that would add depth, while still allowing it to sell immediate playing time for elite prospects with whom it has more established relationships.
11/28: Added: Offer to Maurice Smith.
11/29: Added: Jones and Olaseni added as potential offers.
12/1: Added: Rolfe added.
12/6: FSU offered JUCO Jay Williams.
I spoke with Williams shortly thereafter. He’ll visit Texas this weekend, and FSU next weekend. He will sign and plans to enroll early.
“It went great! Coach Taggart offered me personally and that meant a lot that he came all the way to California to do that.”
While FSU did inform Williams of his great chance to earn early playing time, he said that wasn’t the main focus.
“He talked more about how they love who I am as a person and someone that fits their culture,” Williams said. “Just talking with Coach Taggart and Kelly felt like we were family.”
12/7: Added: OT Ira Henry, of STL.