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Florida State of Recruiting: June 16 official visitor breakdown

The Seminoles continue a huge month for recruiting.

The month of June promises to be an eventful month for the Florida State Seminoles. Mike Norvell and his staff have prioritized June and July in each recruiting cycle and 2023 could be the most productive yet as the Seminoles look to add to their #Tribe24 recruiting class.

Here is a link to the NCAA’s 2022-2023 recruiting calendar. Recruiting is in a “Quiet Period” from June 1-25, meaning “it is permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts only on the member institution’s campus. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts or evaluations may be made during the quiet period.” Notably, however, FSU now has all of its 2023 summer enrollees on campus to help recruit.

The Three Stars are here to break down FSU’s anticipated official visitors each June weekend. We’ll analyze each visitor for the upcoming weekend and provide our confidence level for an eventual commitment from each prospect. FSU hosted six official visitors the first weekend of June and two more earlier this week.

The weekend of June 16 has a distinct defensive back flair, as FSU will host arguably its top target of the 2023 cycle, along with some other key prospects. We’ll also include a pair of mid-week visitors expected to arrive June 19-20 in this write up. Let’s take a look at the visitors.

June 16 official visitors

5-star DB Charles Lester III

Lester is the coaching staff’s highest priority this cycle, and for good reason. The 6’1”, 170 pound defensive back is considered the 18th best player in the nation (2nd best cornerback and 4th best player in FL). He has a ton of offers but has settled on a final four of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Colorado Buffaloes, Georgia Bulldogs, and Florida State Seminoles. Having already visited the Tide and Buffs, Lester makes his way to Tallahassee this weekend before heading to Athens next weekend.

Lester is, in a word, smooth. He appears to glide effortlessly through his breaks and when blanketing the top offensive weapon on the opposing team. He is instinctual, cerebral, meticulous, and uses his long arms to win most of his battles. His change of direction is on an elite level and he has all the makings of a shut-down defender at the next level. FSU likes him at cornerback but Lester could transition to safety if needed without skipping a beat.

Confidence level: High. He had very good visits to Alabama and Colorado (gulp), but Lester has long loved the Seminoles. There was concern when former DB coach Marcus Woodson left for Arkansas, but new DB coach Patrick Surtain has quickly developed a strong relationship with Lester. HC Mike Norvell and DC Adam Fuller are heavily involved here as well. I wouldn’t consider him a lock, but I would be very surprised if Lester doesn’t sign with the Seminoles in the end.

4-star DB Zavier Mincey

Considered the 135th best prospect in the nation (11th best safety and 21st best player in FL), Mincey plays for Mainland High School in Daytona Beach. The 6’3”, 180 pound athlete could slot in as a corner or a safety at the next level (I would slot him at safety, personally). This is shaping up to be a true in-state battle between the Florida Gators, Miami Hurricanes, and Seminoles. He visited UF last weekend and will bookend his time in Tallahassee with a trip to Coral Gables next weekend.

Mincey has outstanding size and long arms for a defensive back, something we’re learning that DB coach Patrick Surtain covets in his recruits. One of the better tacklers among the DB prospects FSU is pursuing, Mincey shows a willingness to form tackle and remain aggressive throughout coverage. He has the makings of a multi-year starter and could see early time on special teams wherever he goes. Mincey is also teammates with priority DL recruit LJ McCray, which makes landing his commitment even more beneficial.

Confidence level: Medium. I think Mincey legitimately likes all three in-state schools and I could see him at all three. FSU is clearly vetting numerous defensive back prospects this summer, as evidenced by so many June OVs from corners and safeties. Mincey is one of my favorite defensive back recruits on FSU’s list and I would love to see the ‘Noles land his commitment, but this battle will likely go into the season at minimum. FSU has as good a shot as any.

4-star DB Ricky Knight III

I believe Knight is underrated, as he is considered the 400th best player in the nation (36th best athlete and 60th best player in FL). The 6’0”, 170 pound athlete profiles best as a defensive back who could cross-train at corner and safety at the next level, and this one is shaping up to be a battle between the Miami Hurricanes and FSU. Knight will arrive in Tallahassee fresh off a great official visit to Iliinois, which is becoming known for producing defensive backs recently.

I’ve been a vocal proponent of FSU adding Knight III for months, as he has shown his abilities on multiple camp and combine circuits. He isn’t afraid to match up against top wideouts, often skipping the line to match up against the best prospects. In a San Antonio camp half a year ago, Knight burst on the national scene when he racked up six interceptions in the one-on-one sessions against blue-chip QBs and WRs. Playing both ways for The Benjamin School helps Knight cerebrally against WRs, as he is a good route-runner himself. He shows great range, using his track speed to cover a lot of ground in a hurry, and he has the type of ballhawking ability coveted at the next level.

Confidence level: Medium. I worry that FSU has slow-played Knight over the spring and summer months, as he was once a strong Seminole lean. I believe Miami has now taken a lead for Knight, but FSU can make up a lot of ground on his OV if it shows him that he is a priority. I would love to see Knight III in this class. If he isn’t, it’s highly likely that FSU will be facing him the next few years.

4-star WR BJ Gibson (FSU commit)

Gibson checks in as the 374th best player in the nation (32nd best athlete and 43rd best player in GA). Gibson, a one-time Tennessee Volunteer baseball commit, switched his college destination to Florida State back in mid-April. FSU likes him at wide receiver and he is expected to play baseball for Link Jarrett’s squad as well. He will undoubtedly have his recruiting hat for the ‘Noles on while going through his official visit.

Confidence level: High. The wide receiver recruiting this cycle is going to be filled with twists and turns, but I like the chances of Gibson remaining in the class.

3-star DL Alex January

January is considered the 498th best player in the nation (49th best DL and 87th best player in TX). The 6’4”, 325 pound space-eater plays defensive tackle for Texas powerhouse Duncanville High School and has previously officially visited Texas Tech Red Raiders and LSU Tigers, and will finish June with a trip to see the Texas Longhorns next weekend (his father played linebacker for the Longhorns). His final official visit will likely go to either the Oklahoma Sooners or Miami Hurricanes.

January unofficially visited FSU with his parents at the end of April and loved the experience, translating into this weekend’s official visit. Former Duncanville teammates and current Seminoles Jaylen Early and Jerrale Powers are close with January and are likely to spend a lot of time with the hulking DT this weekend. DT coach Odell Haggins is the primary recruiter for January.

Confidence level: Low. It won’t be easy to pull January out of the Texas region and away from the Longhorns and LSU Tigers, but FSU has a couple former teammates who can really assist here. Defensive line recruiting for the ‘24 cycle has been underwhelming to date and my hope is that FSU will push hard for January. Based on his other OVs and finalists, though, the safe bet would be on January staying closer to home.

3-star ATH Kevin Levy

Levy is considered the 670th best player in the nation (69th best athlete and 98th best player in FL). The 6’0”, 170 pound athlete plays wide receiver and defensive back for Cardinal Newman in West Palm Beach. He also has a strong track background as a sprinter, winning a gold medal at the FHSAA 1A track meet as a sophomore with a personal-best 10.66 (2.0) in the 100-meter dash. He was also part of a 4x100 squad that won first place that weekend and earned a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash.

In addition to FSU, Levy has a top group of the Florida Gators, Illinois Fighting Illini, Louisville Cardinals, and Rutgers Scarlet Knights. He’s already taken visits to Rutgers and Louisville and will see Illinois after his time in Tallahassee. Levy is projected as a defensive back at the next level and could also contribute in the return game.

Confidence level: Medium, if FSU pushes for him. I think Levy will stay in state if either UF or FSU push hard for him. He is likely toward the middle of FSU’s board as more of a developmental prospect but has good upside. We’ll have a better idea of where Levy sits on FSU’s board at the conclusion of June, with a decision from Levy likely coming before the football season. If he commits out of state and either UF or FSU push late to flip him, I think there is a solid chance of it happening.

June 19 official visitor

5-star WR Jeremiah Smith

There is disagreement as to whether Smith’s visit will be an official or unofficial visit, but I’m including him regardless because it’s a big deal when arguably the nation’s best prospect comes to town. Smith checks in as the 3rd best player in the nation and is considered the best wide receiver and best player in the state of Florida. He has been committed to Ohio State for months but is still entertaining other schools, most notably the Georgia Bulldogs, Penn State Nittany Lions, and the three in-state programs.

In my opinion, Smith is unquestionably the best wideout in this cycle and stacks up very well with the top wideouts in any cycle over the past decade. He is a Julio Jones clone on the field at 6’3”, 200 pounds with a frame to get to 215-220 without losing speed or athleticism. He routinely makes difficult catches look easy and is the type of big-play threat that keeps opposing defensive coaching staffs awake at night. His combination of skill and physicality is elite and he flat-out bullies defenders and imposes his will. He will push for a starting role wherever he signs, which is really saying something, considering his finalists.

Confidence level: Low- as long as his primary recruiter stays in Columbus. Everything with Smith’s recruitment hinges on what happens with Brian Hartline. If Hartline remains at Ohio State heading into next season, this one is basically a wrap as Smith is simply enjoying the process right now. If Hartline leaves for a head coaching gig, however, things will get very interesting. I would put Georgia as the largest threat to flip Smith but if FSU can make moves with Smith’s fellow Chaminade teammates (Jojo Trader, Zaquan Patterson, Chris Ewald, etc), former teammate and current ‘Nole Edwin Joseph may be able to help pull off the huge upset here.

3-star LB Michael Boganowski

Considered the 499th best player nationally (47th best linebacker and best player in Kansas), Boganowski trips to Tallahassee nest week to take in the Florida lifestyle, expected to arrive Monday or Tuesday. The 6’2”, 200 pound linebacker plays for Junction City Senior High and holds over a dozen offers. He finished with 123 tackles, four interceptions, and a forced fumble last season. Randy Shannon definitely places emphasis on high school productivity.

Boganowski has already taken visits to see the Stanford Cardinal, Kansas Jayhawks, and will be with the Oklahoma Sooners this weekend prior to flying to Tallahassee. He’ll then finish up his official visits with the Kansas State Wildcats the following weekend. His highlights show a good ability to track the ball, a willingness to seek contact, and solid mechanics. He will need to add at least 15 more pounds to his frame but looks to be a good developmental prospect who can start out on special teams.

Confidence level: Low. I think Boganowski is going to stay in the Midwest, either at Kansas State or Oklahoma. Maybe Stanford can pull him. I’m glad FSU is hosting him though, because goodness knows transfer portal LB’s could be needed in the years to come (eyeroll).