A coaching tenure is often made or broken on the backs of its first two full recruiting classes. After a disastrous season (much of which was caused by offensive line injury), FSU failed to sign many elite recruits in 2019. In fact, by the recruiting rankings, it was FSU’s worst class in over a decade. The class could, as the coaching staff claims, improve the culture of the program. But there’s reason to question the upside.
Suffice to say, Willie Taggart needs to hit the 2020 class out of the park if he is going to succeed in Tallahassee. He is already behind the eight ball. A coach probably can’t succeed at Florida State if he fails to bring in an elite class in his first two full cycles.
Here are the numbers (names to come) FSU should be looking to hit in the 2020 class.
The ideal number to carry at the QB position is four. FSU did not sign a QB in the 2018 or 2019 classes. It projects to return RsJr James Blackman and RsSo Jordan Travis, so it needs to sign two in the 2020 class.
Skill Positions (WR/TE/RB)
A team should carry about 20 skill players on scholarship. Florida State is slated to return three running backs, but attrition of at least one should be projected. The Seminoles are slated to return nine receivers, but projecting attrition of two would be wise. And the Seminoles are returning three tight ends, but attrition of one is probably wise to project. That means FSU is probably going to return 12 skill position players.
Given this, FSU should be looking to take at least seven skill players, including two running backs, four receivers, and a tight end, plus probably another one at whichever spot it feels a need to plug.
A team should generally strive to carry about 17 offensive linemen, and definitely no fewer than 15. FSU is slated to return 14, but significant attrition should be expected in the form of redshirt seniors not returning after receiving their degrees (two to three in this category seem likely).
FSU has signed seven high school players in the last two classes, so it should look to take roughly five this season, including at least one high-level tackle who can project to play at a competent level by the 2021 season.
A four-down team like FSU should carry at least 16 defensive linemen. It currently has 16 on scholarship, with no seniors, so in theory 16 would project to return, but it would be prudent to project attrition of four, so it should take four, including two ends and two tackles.
FSU needs quality in this class. It has signed too much filler at the position of late, not properly balancing ceiling and floor. If also needs to make sure it has players with more defined roles, like a true pass rusher and a bigger defensive tackle, as opposed to swing players.
A team that plays majority nickel should look to carry eight or nine linebackers. FSU is slated to return seven, and attrition of at least one should be projected, so it should look to take three.
A base-nickel team should be looking to carry 15 or 16 defensive backs (this includes the star position Jaiden Woodbey plays). The Seminoles are slated to return 14, but should plan for attrition of two or three. FSU should take three or four defensive backs, and should only be accepting studs due to its current quality depth at the position.
FSU might look to take a punter with a scholarship, but it would be preferable to take a walk-on and then scholarship him after a year or two.
What this looks like
RB/WR/TE (wildcard): 1
That’s 26. It seems like a lot, but there should be a decent amount of attrition coming. FSU has been unable to shed players like it would like because Willie Taggart inherited the worst APR score in the Power 5, and immediate mass departures would have further hurt the score. There are eight redshirt seniors slated to return in 2020, and it would be a surprise if more than half actually did.