Florida State looks to return 10 defensive backs to the roster in 2019. Factoring in the potential of additional attrition within the position group, and the fact that FSU has four juniors returning who will be cycling out after 2019, we expect the ’Noles to take 6-7 defensive backs this cycle.
Under defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett, the Florida State defense will base primarily out of quarters coverage. Versus certain formations and route concepts (like four vertical patterns), this coverage converts to man-to-man. This means all four defensive backs need exceptional cover ability and the coaching staff will put proper emphasis on this when looking for players to fit the scheme. If a recruit can cover and showcase some of the additional traits the staff is looking for, he can probably play defensive back at Florida State.
An additional note on the Star or nickel-back position in this defense: The previous staff recruited this position as a safety/cornerback hybrid. Coach Barnett and his staff will be looking for more of a safety/linebacker hybrid; a player who has the athleticism to cover and play in space combined with the size and physicality to play in the box vs. the run.
Here is a general rundown of the position.
- Akeem Dent, West Palm Beach (Fla.) Palm Beach Central: Dent (6’0, 170 pounds) is a 5 star prospect and one of the top defensive backs in the entire country. He is the cousin of former FSU receiver Greg Dent and Akeem’s brother plays receiver for the current ’Noles squad. Dent committed to FSU back in July.
- Travis Jay, Madison (Fla.) Madison County: At 6’1 and 175 pounds, Jay is also an elite defensive back who committed to Florida State during a visit in March. Despite being a low 4-star, Jay is one of the top prospects in the ’Noles 2019 class (early rankings are unreliable).
- Renardo Green, Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva: Green is a 3-star prospect who plays with the competitive edge you look for in defensive players. He also has elite ball skills. Green recently committed to FSU after visiting for the spring game.
- Brendan Gant, Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen: Gant has excellent length and plays with physicality. He profiles more in the Star role. Gant decommitted from Alabama in April after a visit to Florida State. Gant is now committed to Florida State.
- Nick Cross, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha: Cross is one of the top defensive back prospects in the country. He lines up all over the defense for his high school team and also excels as a track athlete. Cross committed to Florida State on 9/3/18.
Here are the players FSU has offered and with whom it has a reasonable shot. I have excluded players who, after being offered, showed little to no interest, and those who have offers but are committed to their in-state schools and are legacies at those schools.
- Raymond Woodie III, Tallahassee (Fla.) Florida State University School: He’s the son of current Florida State linebacker coach, Raymond Woodie. Similar to Gant, Woodie III profiles as a safety/star prospect that can play in the box and use his physicality.
- Jarvis Brownlee, Miami (Fla.) Carol City: Brownlee is a Miami commit who Bud suggested offering back in March. FSU finally did offer in November. We’ll see if Brownlee will come up on a visit and potentially flip. He is an excellent player with a winning football mentality.
- Marcus Banks, Houston (Texas) Dekaney: FSU likes Banks a lot. The 6’0 cornerback is also being pursued by Texas A&M and Alabama, among others. He has room to add good weight.
Targets (potential offers)
At this time, we’re not aware of anyone FSU might be throwing out an offer to.
12/10: Cleaned up the board some and added commentary on Banks. ... With Urban Meyer’s retirement, Renardo Green is no longer on flip watch to the Buckeyes. ... While Jay and Dent will take visits, Cross is the prospect FSU fans will be most watching to see if he sticks as Georgia and Maryland pursue. Still, Cross remains an active recruiter for FSU on social media.
If Florida State keeps the five players it has currently committed and adds one or two more from the list of offers, it will have done a very good job with the position. Dent is an elite player, and Jay might just be the best prospect in the FSU class.