Following the announcement that all sporting events have been suspended, the next big decision was that all recruiting activity was also placed on hold until April 15th (it’s now been extended until the end of May). We’ll use this newly enacted dead period to evaluate Florida State’s recruiting position by position. This isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive list; rather, it’s a snapshot of which players we believe are trending with FSU. TimScribble and NoleThruandThru break it down for you here:
In this series, we’ve covered quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, interior offensive line, offensive tackle, defensive tackles and defensive ends. Today, we’ll look at linebackers. The Florida State Seminoles signed three linebackers in the 2020 class: Stephen Dix Jr., Jayion McCluster, and TJ Davis. Additionally, the Seminoles added one one transfer in Cornel Jones. With the unit in much better shape (talent and depth) heading into fall, FSU can afford to be more selective. The expectation is that the ’Noles will sign three linebackers.
Branden Jennings. 6’3, 225 pound 4-star from Sandalwood High School (Jacksonville, FL). Jennings committed to the Seminoles after visiting for Florida State’s Junior Day. Simply put, the nickname “Godzilla” is a perfect description of the way Jennings treats opposing ball-carriers and blockers in his path. After Jennings committed, TN provided a breakdown of his game:
I have two words to describe Jennings: snot bubbles. Jennings has bad intentions every time he steps on the field and often takes his anger out on an opposing ball carrier.
The first trait you see on the field is his size and length. Jennings is an imposing LB, as he has NFL size for the position. He uses this size and length well when taking on a blocker in the hole, scraping and taking on an offensive linemen, or decleating a RB. He does not sacrifice much speed or athleticism for a LB his size.
Jennings has fantastic instincts for the LB position. You see clips of him getting skinny on a blitz or spot dropping and coverage and he finds himself being successful time and time again. This is a player who has clearly grown up around football his whole life. Blitzing and spot dropping are not easy skills for all players, but Jennings is great at it.
Finally, Jennings plays with great leverage on the football. He rarely finds himself in the same hole as another defender, scraping well and working downhill constantly. The thing I like most is he is an outside-in defender and fits very well on ball carriers not allowing for cutbacks, spin moves, or any other moves. This is a LB who makes plays consistently because he is in the right place.
Dequaveon Fuller. 5’11, 210 pound 3-star from Lehigh Senior High School (Lehigh Acres, FL). Fuller committed to Florida State in February of 2019. The brother of current Florida State defensive lineman, Quashon Fuller, is slightly undersized, but uses his wingspan to stand up blockers at the point of attack. With continued growth, he could be a thumper at the inside linebacker spot:
Jaydon Hood. 6’1, 210 pound 4-star from St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, FL). Hood referred to Florida State as his dream after receiving an offer in January. The FSU coaches have increased their communication with Hood recently, a good sign for building relationships and getting Hood back to campus for another visit. Check out Tomahawk Nation’s scout on Hood from earlier this year:
Hood is an exceptional talent, as it doesn’t take long to figure that out after turning on the tape. Hood totaled 115 tackles last year, to go with 7 sacks, 25 TFL, and a pick.
However, he’s not all brawn, sporting an impressive 3.8 GPA. A standout in the classroom, Hood equally stands out on the football field of a powerhouse program. He epitomizes the type of player that you do NOT want to line up against play after play.
For a full scout, see the link above.
Andrew Jones. 6’1, 215 pound 3-star from John Ehret High School (Marrero, LA). Jones visited Tallahassee in March. During his visit, Jones received an offer from the Seminoles and nearly committed. Jones is blowing up with offers, and it’s easy to see why. His film shows he’s a missile from the linebacker spot. Despite lacking prototypical size for his position, he has the speed you desire and delivers hits with authority. Jones stays in regular contact with the FSU staff:
Ian Jackson. 6’1, 210 pound 4-star from Prattville High School (Prattville, AL). Jackson visited Florida State for the January Junior Day and received an offer:
After a great visit down to Tallahassee I am honored to receive an offer from Florida State University!! #nolenation #climb @Coach_Norvell @Coach_Marve @Locklyn33 @coachcalebross @GrangerShook @CoachMellown @PrattFootball @prattvillelions pic.twitter.com/JgrOhaE5Mm— Ian Jackson (@IMJack003) January 26, 2020
Jackson is fundamentally sound. He wraps up and is a sure tackler. He has the quickness to cover receivers in the slot and takes correct angles when closing on ball-carriers. He actually has the build and versatility to play at linebacker or safety. FSU made Jackson’s top-10 in late March:
Clayton Smith. 6’4, 220 pound 4-star from Texas High School (Texarkana, TX). Smith received an offer from Florida State in January, but has yet to visit the campus. Smith is another rangy defender who skillfully uses his length. He slices through gaps in the line and wrecks backfields. He has the skills to cover wide receivers and actually shows off his hands on offense at the same position:
Prince Kollie. 6’1, 200 pound 3-star from David Crockett High School (Jonesborough, TN). Kollie received an offer from FSU less than a week ago, so he hasn’t visited Tallahassee. You can see a theme in the linebackers FSU is targeting—they might not all have prototypical size, but they’re versatile and can play all over the field with speed and strength. Kollie is a carbon-copy of this profile. He lines up at defensive end, linebacker, and safety. He patrols the entire field and packs a punch, meeting running backs in the hole and delivering punishing blows:
Jordan Eubanks. 6’2, 205 pound 3-star from Guyer High School (Denton, TX). Eubanks has not visited Florida State yet, as he just received an offer from the Seminoles in April. Another player who splits time at safety and linebacker, Eubanks shows above-average coverage skills and excels at reading an offense. He has top-end closing speed, allowing him to stop plays before they start:
Jamari Buddin. 6’2, 210 pound 4-star from Belleville High School (Belleville, MI). Buddin received an offer from the previous staff in 2019 and was re-offered by Coach Marve. He also visited the campus twice last summer, leading to the ’Noles making his top-7 last month:
Just wanna Thank The Man Above ...— 4 (@jamaribuddin) April 3, 2020
Top 7 ... pic.twitter.com/G9nn4AWKTQ
Even though Buddin has a lean frame, you can see his strength on film. He rips through blocks and pressures the quarterback often. He projects to be an outside backer who can also line up on the edge. He has the frame to add weight and strength while not losing athleticism:
Jackson Hamilton. 6’1, 205 pound 3-star out of Blessed Trinity Catholic High School (Roswell, GA). Hamilton received an offer from FSU Thursday night. Hamilton is quick to diagnose plays, allowing him to fly to the ball. He can cover, rush, and lay out ball carriers. His speed is useful on offense, as well, playing running back for his high school team:
Other names to know at the defensive end position: Barrett Carter and Xavian Sorey (neither is expected to join Tribe ‘21). The staff will continue to add names to their list as the season progresses.