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Florida State of Recruiting: Who are the 2022 tight ends you need to know?

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Turning weakness into strength.

Kaden Helms and Micah Riley-Ducker
omaha.com

As we formally turn the page to the Class of 2022, we’re ramping up our Florida State of Recruiting series once again. As a reminder, this is meant to be a snapshot in time of the current prospects committed to, trending with, or known to have mutual interest in the Florida State Seminoles football program. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list, so expect to see names added/removed (as needed) throughout the ’22 cycle, including any transfer portal options that may become available. Uncommitted targets aren’t presented in any specific order.

Previous articles:

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tribe ‘22 Tight End State of Recruiting

The Committed

None.... yet.

The Targets

Holden Staes: 6’4”, 230 lbs (Atlanta, GA)

Staes holds a rating of 92 (4-star) from the 247 Sports Composite List and is considered the 202nd best player in the nation (7th best TE and 22nd best player in Georgia). A former Penn State Nittany Lions commit, he reopened his recruitment in February and holds over two dozen offers from the likes of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU Tigers, North Carolina Tar Heels, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (thought to be the current leader in his recruitment), and Texas Longhorns. FSU offered on June 22, 2020, and in an interview with our Josh Pick mentioned FSU’s tradition as standing out to him and stated he’d like to visit campus.

Staes has great hands and while he won’t blow you away with his speed, he still manages to get past linebackers frequently and shows no fear in making contested catches. He’s a willing blocker who can also flex outside to a slot position and get tough yards across the middle. His athleticism is excellent. Staes is looking for a great fit academically and athletically, as he and his parents place a high priority on education.

Kaden Helms: 6’5”, 222 lbs (Bellevue, NE)

Helms holds a rating of 88 (3-star) and is considered the 393rd best player in the nation (17th best TE and 4th best player in Nebraska). He holds over 20 offers from the likes of the Arizona State Sun Devils, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Miami (FL) Hurricanes, Michigan Wolverines, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Oklahoma Sooners, and Oklahoma State Cowboys. He earned an offer from FSU on November 4, 2020.

My personal favorite on this list, Helms is athletic enough to play WR or TE and we know FSU likes him in the athletic mold of a hybrid. He shows great hands and an ability to see the field well, often turning bubble screens into long gains. He has good speed for his size and a wide catch radius. He’s physical and unafraid of contact, but will need to work on blocking and adding strength. He’s teammates with the next name on this list, Micah Riley-Ducker.

Micah Riley-Ducker: 6’6”, 235 lbs (Bellevue, NE)

Riley-Ducker holds a rating of 89 (4-star) and is considered the 341st best player in the nation (16th best TE and 3rd best player in Nebraska). Among his 30 offers are the Auburn Tigers, Iowa, Iowa State, Miami, Missouri Tigers, Tennessee Volunteers, and Wisconsin Badgers. FSU offered on November 4, 2020 (the same day it offered his teammate, Kaden Helms). He recently included FSU in his Top 8:

Riley-Ducker has great size and a frame to add more muscle and strength. His physicality leaps off his highlight reel, consistently finishing blocks and getting guys on the ground. He has the disposition of a copperhead and is a mauler once he gets his hands on his opponent. He also has a nice catch radius and can stretch the field with good speed.

Tyrus Washington: 6’4”, 230 lbs (Leesburg, GA)

Washington is currently unranked by the 247 Sports Composite rankings, but that should change. He sports over 20 offers from the likes of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Boston College Eagles, Cincinnati Bearcats, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Nebraska, South Carolina Gamecocks, and Tennessee. FSU hasn’t offered yet, but is monitoring Washington closely. He’s teammates with fellow FSU targets Qae’shon Sapp and Jaron Willis.

Washington is a willing blocker with nice speed. He can flex out or start with his hand in the dirt and still run solid routes. He shows good hands, but is still raw as a prospect and needs to add strength. He also plays defensive end for his high school.

Eli Raridon: 6’6”, 228 lbs (West Des Moines, IA)

Raridon holds a rating of 88 (3-star) and is considered the 425th best player in the nation (19th best TE and 4th best player in Iowa). He holds nearly 20 offers, with the hometown Iowa Hawkeyes and Notre Dame Fighting Irish thought to be current favorites. He was offered by FSU on November 4, 2020 (it was a big day for tight end offers).

Raridon has great bloodlines, as his dad played offensive like for Notre Dame and his uncle played for Nebraska. He shows good acceleration off the line and has very nice hands with a wide catch radius. He has good athleticism for his size and can flex out when needed to create mismatches. Raridon shows nimble feet and good field awareness, as well.

Blake Gunter: 6’3”, 230 lbs (Madison, MS)

Gunter holds a rating of 86 (3-star) and is considered the 567th best player in the nation (30th best TE and 15th best player in Mississippi). He was offered by Florida State on, you guessed it, November 4, 2020 and also has offers from Arkansas, the Memphis Tigers, Ole Miss Rebels (thought to be the current favorite), Tennessee, and the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Gunter regularly lines up outside at wide receiver and is athletic enough to play the position, using his size to shield defenders and make the catch. He shows good hands and nice get-off from the line. His routes are often crisp and he’s where the QB expects him to be. He’s a willing blocker and has nice upside.

Darren Agu: 6’6”, 235 lbs (Rabun Gap, GA)

Agu holds a rating of 86 (3-star) and is considered the 578th best player in the nation (31st best TE and 57th best player in Georgia). He has nearly 30 offers from the likes of Arizona State, Auburn, Iowa State, the Louisville Cardinals, Miami, North Carolina, Penn State Nittany Lions, South Carolina, Virginia Cavaliers, and Virginia Tech Hokies. Agu just missed the party, offered by FSU on November 6, 2020.

Agu, who is originally from London, is a very good athlete and another who lines up at WR and TE for his school. He has nice size (pushing 6’7) and can fight for jump balls with good timing and hand strength. I’m not sure how much more weight his frame can hold, so he may be close to his max level of weight and will need to work on adding strength. He may be the most intriguing prospect on this list, as his upside seems very high.

CJ Hawkins: 6’7”, 220 lbs (Tampa, FL)

Hawkins is unranked by the composite rankings, but again, that should change. He boasts over 20 offers including Arizona State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, the Indiana Hoosiers, Michigan State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia Tech. Notably, Yale has also offered Hawkins. He was offered by FSU a month ago and is teammates with 2023 target Keon Keeley.

Hawkins is a dual sport athlete in football and basketball, and his athleticism really shows on the football field. He’s a long strider and almost looks like he’s gliding down the field at times. He’s a relentless blocker and makes good transitions from having his hands in the dirt to starting his routes. Another extremely intriguing prospect, Georgia is his most recent offer and should likely be considered the leader for him if it’s committable, but the new staff at South Carolina has prioritized him, as well.

As always, feel free to head on over the the ‘crootin thread to talk about these and other prospects.