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Emerging Prospects: Eight offensive prospects who could earn a Florida State offer

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We shall see...

Weston Wolff (Twitter)

NOTE: The Emerging Prospects series is officially.back’s personal evaluations of lesser-known and emerging recruits. OB’s evaluations are a good look at less publicized names, and Tomahawk Nation enjoys adding his unique perspective to the conversation and highlighting these prospects.

There’s an old mantra: Defense wins championships. That may be true, but Offense fills the stadiums. This may not be more truer than in the recruiting world, where prospective coaches constantly lead with “come be the next playmaker” to many wide-eyed teenagers. Some youngsters get the exposure due to camps, pedigree, program status, etc, while others end up not as well-known but are still deserving, based on talent and potential.

This is why I do the Emerging Prospects series, a way to shine light on the up-and-comers who are talented, but aren’t affiliated with well-known circles or large social media followings. Many of these prospects end the year getting the recognition I believe they deserve.

Today, we focus on some offensive playmakers who could be on everyone’s radar by Signing Day. These prospects are looking to become household names. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and read my previous top defensive playmakers piece.

Below is my list of eight emerging offensive prospects for the 2021 class (who hope to earn that coveted FSU offer).

Darius Chester

5’8, 180 lbs

Projected position: Running Back

Miami Killian High, Miami, FL

Current Rating: 0.8265

Player Comparison: Devonta Freeman

Watch for yourself: https://www.hudl.com/video/3/9489980/5b86b1fc9a9b2d0becbcb6ce

It is quietly an injustice that this kid isn’t getting the recognition that he deserves. Chester will arguably finish as one of the top backs in the state of FL. Runs with incredible power at his frame and great balance in tight spaces, as well as in the open field. Good speed to pull away from most defenses. Compact frame makes it tough to get a good hit on him. Reminds me of D’Andre Swift coming out of high school in many ways, but I equally think Devonta Freeman is a good comparison, due to his ability to hit the hole and difficulty in bringing him down. Has a FSU offer from previous staff, but has been relatively quiet regarding his recruitment.

Tre Shackleford

6’1.5, 180 lbs

Projected position: Wide Receiver

Austin High, Decatur, AL

Current Rating: 0.8265

Player Comparison: Taiwan Easterling

Watch for yourself: https://www.hudl.com/video/3/9843166/5dc790299a92860c9c33576f

Tre Shackleford is a dynamic receiver who is only going to get better. He does a fantastic job at catching everything on his way. He possesses incredible body control, great hands, and a fantastic ability to aggressively win jump balls. Shackleford does not have blazing speed, but is someone that is going to win most of his battles, simply because he plays the WR position very intelligently. Shackleford reminds me a lot of Taiwan Easterling, someone who FSU fans could always count on to come down with the ball.

Jermaine Dawson

5’10, 170 lbs

Projected position: Wide Receiver

Vero Beach High, Vero Beach, FL

Current Rating: Unranked

Player Comparison: Keyshawn Helton

Watch for yourself: https://www.hudl.com/video/3/11034581/5da730b45b3d130c10197446

The first word that describe Jermaine Dawson’s game to me is fearless. Dawson is not the biggest receiver, but is not intimidated when going up against bigger defenders. He has no issues with throws over the middle of the field and often wins contested throws. Add in the fact that Dawson is very elusive with deceptive speed, and you end up with a dangerous receiver. Dawson is very good with the ball in his hands; more importantly, his skillset matches what FSU is looking for in a slot receiver, or even a slot back.

Max Balthazar

5’10, 180 lbs

Projected postion: Running Back

University School, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Current Rating: 0.8316

Player Comparison: Dalvin Cook-ish?

Watch for yourself: https://www.hudl.com/video/3/11080803/5d7fba0119a5000a3cb07fe4

Max Balthazar is dangerous. Very dangerous. Balthazar looks like a big back (on tape), runs with the fluidity of a smaller back, and defenders seem to ‘bounce’ off of him when trying to tackle (almost like Dalvin Cook)? Now before you start crucifying me, I said that they have similar running styles, not the same talent level. With that said, Balthazar is no slouch in the talent compartment. He doesn’t possess Cook’s speed, but is extremely tough to bring down in the open field. This is a big time recruit, who will challenge for one of the Top 5 backs in the state when it’s all said and done imo.

Jaheim Shannon

6’3, 330 lbs

Projected position: Offensive Guard

Wellington High, West Palm Beach, FL

Current Rating: Unranked

Player Comparison: Darius Washington

Watch for yourself: https://www.hudl.com/video/3/9686652/5dd479be1763a20f2020a345

Don’t let other sites tell you that all of the good linemen are taken. In fact, Jaheim Shannon would also strongly disagree with that notion. Shannon is a big, strong lineman who is a bully in the trenches. Does a good job of staying in control out of his stance and maintaining good leverage throughout the block. Has good bend and great feet. Powerful base and upper body strength, decent length, and very good athleticism. I’ve watched a lot of film on some of the more top ranked prospects and I believe Shannon is much better than many of them.

Tae’quan Johnson

6’3, 190 lbs

Projected position: Wide Receiver

Ocoee High, Ocoee, FL

Current Rating: 0.8538

Player Comparison: Auden Tate

Watch for yourself: https://www.hudl.com/video/3/9706712/5dc70ea764e9c9107c726427

Tae’quan Johnson is a very good prospect that is only going to get better. I expect him to have a huge senior season and claim a status as one of the better wide receivers in the state. He runs good routes, has good speed, and very good agility in the open field. I think that he needs to get better with his releases and out of his breaks, but these are things that a coach like Ron Dugans could easily get cleaned up. Johnson does a good job of locating the ball, staying upright and getting YAC.

Weston Wolff

6’4, 210 lbs

Projected Position: Tight End

Venice High, Venice, FL

Current Rating: 0.8427

Player comparison: Ryan Izzo

Watch for yourself: https://www.hudl.com/video/3/9721055/5d6d9cb75b3cee0cb0ecef93

Weston Wolff is a blossoming star at the tight end position. Wolff runs good routes and is very good at creating separation from LBs. He also does a great job of high pointing the football and often comes up with tough catches. I mentioned fellow underrated 2021 TE, Gunner Greenwald (who has recently garnered some nice offers), and I believe Wolff has a bigger upside than Greenwald. If you have not seen him play, this is a prospect to remember. I expect his recruitment to continue to take off.

Khalil Saunders

6’5, 270 lbs

Projected Position: Offensive Tackle (could play on the defensive line)

Grissom High, Huntsville, AL

Current Rating: Unranked

Player comparison:

Watch for yourself: https://www.hudl.com/video/3/11772334/5dbf9d3038638b0e64e7a9c7

What Coach Alex Atkins values in his ideal offensive tackles are great length, athleticism, and functional size. Kahlil Saunders is a prospect that has 2 out of 3 of those traits with an opportunity to add more good size. Saunders is primarily a defensive guy, but carries a mean streak and long term potential is likely at offensive tackle imo. Does a good job of getting out of his stance, staying square to the defender, moving his feet, and finishing the block. With that said, Saunders is still relatively raw at the position, but definitely worth a second look by bigger programs.

There are talented players on this list, some of whom could theoretically get that coveted FSU offer as they gain more notoriety. Look for these prospects to keep gaining steam. Seminole Nation, which of these prospects would you like to see earn an FSU offer?