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

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Power and speed, please!

Marvin Jones, Jr.
Marvin Jones Jr. Twitter

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

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Tribe ‘22 State of Recruiting: Defensive Ends

The Committed

Nyjalik Kelly: 6’4”, 235lbs (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Kelly holds a rating of 89 (4-star) in the 247 Sports Composite ranking and is considered the 371st best player in the nation (23rd best SDE and 48th best player in Florida). This ranking is still absurdly low in my opinion, as I believe Kelly to be a top 150 player. He committed to FSU in August 2020 over the Arizona State Sun Devils, Florida Gators, and Kentucky Wildcats—he’s since accumulated nearly 20 more offers from the likes of the LSU Tigers, Maryland Terrapins, Miami (FL) Hurricanes, Oregon Ducks, Penn State Nittany Lions, and Texas Longhorns, with an Alabama Crimson Tide offer potentially forthcoming, as well.

Kelly is teammates with fellow Tribe ‘22 commit Devaughn Mortimer. FSU saw Kelly’s immense potential very early on, and other schools are now catching up. Our own CoachAB broke down Kelly’s potential here. Kelly attended the spring game and by all accounts, really enjoyed himself and spending time with other commits and targets.

Aaron Hester: 6’3”, 221 lbs (Neptune Beach, FL)

Hester holds a rating of 87 (3-star) and is considered the 457th best player (27th best WDE and 60th best player in Florida). Hester committed to FSU in late January 2021 over 20 other offers from the likes of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Iowa State Cyclones, Maryland, Miami (FL), Michigan Wolverines, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Penn State, South Carolina Gamecocks, and Wisconsin Badgers.

A legacy recruit often overshadowed by names with bigger hype, Hester is no slouch. CoachAB broke down Hester’s potential here. Hester was also at the spring game recruiting for FSU.

The Targets

Marvin Jones Jr: 6’4”, 245 lbs (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Jones, Jr. holds a rating of 97 (4-star) and is considered the 63rd best player (5th best WDE and 8th best player in Florida). Among the most-hyped legacy recruits, Jones is a top target for the Seminoles. He holds 30+ offers from a who’s who of blue-blood programs, with Alabama, Miami (FL), and the Ohio State Buckeyes considered FSU’s top competition for now.

Simply put, Jones Jr. is a quarterback’s worst nightmare as a pass rusher. He has a devastating first step and initial burst, an excellent frame to add strength, and the kind of athleticism rarely seen in defensive end prospects (he started out at WR). His bloodlines and work ethic are unquestioned. He’s a must-get recruit and the coaching staff is treating him like one, not taking his legacy status for granted and clearly prioritizing Jones Jr. He’s scheduled to visit officially for the FSU-Miami showdown:

I still believe the ‘Noles will win out in the end, but it’ll be a close and nerve-wracking recruitment.

Shemar Stewart: 6’5”, 240 lbs (Opa Locka, FL)

Stewart holds a rating of 99 (5-star) and is considered the 5th best player (the best SDE in the nation and the best player in Florida). He holds 30+ offers from elite programs, with the Clemson Tigers, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU, Miami (FL), and the Texas A&M Aggies, among his current favorites.

Stewart is a one-man wrecking crew and would start for FSU right now. He’s built like a college upperclassman with almost no body fat and has deceptive speed and freakish athleticism. As he develops technique and an array of pass-rush moves, he’ll project as an All-American candidate and likely high NFL Draft pick. I probably wouldn’t have included Stewart in this article if not for the major development of his scheduled attendance at FSU’s spring game (he didn’t end up making the trip). FSU has to play major catch-up if it wants any hope of inking Stewart, so getting him on campus over the summer would be an excellent start.

Kenyatta Jackson: 6’5”, 231 lbs (Hollywood, FL)

Jackson holds a rating of 96 (4-star) and is considered the 85th best player (6th best WDE and 10th best player in Florida). He holds 33 offers from a who’s who of blue-blood programs across the nation (see a pattern here?) and is currently thought to favor Clemson and Ohio State.

In my opinion FSU won’t be able to beat out the Tigers or Buckeyes for Jackson unless some big changes happen (major coaches departing his favorite schools), but the Seminole staff will keep trying and hope that any momentum gained will carry over to an official visit during the season.

Dante Anderson: 6’3”, 225 lbs (Homestead, FL)

Anderson holds a rating of 93 (4-star) and is considered the 161st best player (10th best WDE and 19th best player in Florida). With 25+ offers to his name, Anderson’s shaping up to be a good old-fashioned in-state recruiting battle, with Miami thought to hold the current edge over FSU.

Teammates with fellow Tribe ‘22 target DT Daniel Lyons, Anderson is clearly a priority for this staff. His frame will allow for another 25-30 pounds of good weight, and Anderson is a workhorse in the gym and on the field. He has so many tools you want to see in an emerging defensive end and will be much more than a one-trick pony as a pass rusher. FSU and Miami will likely battle for him (and maybe Lyons too) until NSD.

Jihaad Campbell: 6’4”, 220 lbs (Bradenton, FL)

Campbell holds a rating of 88 (3-star) and is considered the 389th best player (20th best WDE and 52nd best player in Florida). He holds nearly 30 offers and is seemingly feeling Clemson, Florida, Georgia, and Ohio State the most.

Campbell is at times a bulldozer and at times so nimble on his feet you’d think he was weightless. A very athletic and hard-working end prospect, he’ll likely be a multi-year contributor at the next level. He recently joined IMG Academy after playing three years of high school ball in New Jersey. I’ll be honest, I don’t see FSU and Campbell ending up together. I’ve included him in this article because on multiple occasions he’s expressed interest in visiting FSU, so possibly some more interest between both parties develops down the line, and I want to be cognizant of that out of respect for Campbell.

Richard Thomas: 6’2”, 255 lbs (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Thomas holds a rating of 88 (3-star) and is considered the 397th best player (24th best SDE and 51st best player in Florida). He holds just under 30 offers and in addition to the ‘Noles, is also currently feeling the Indiana Hoosiers and Pittsburgh Panthers, as he’s locked in summer visits for those schools.

Another player from a loaded American Heritage program, Thomas is a leader on the field and in the locker room for the 2020 5A champs. He earned First Team honors from the Miami Herald after a stellar junior season. Although he isn’t as flashy as others on this list, Thomas is a fine player in his own right and the coaching staff is aiming to keep Thomas and his teammate, Marvin Jones Jr., together along the defensive line for the next few years.

Quency Wiggins: 6’6”, 265 lbs (Baton Rouge, LA)

Wiggins holds a rating of 90 (4-star) and is considered the 247th best player (14th best SDE and 14th best player in Louisiana). He holds 20+ offers and is being heavily recruited by numerous ACC, Big Ten, PAC 12, and SEC programs. He’s locked in official visits to the Auburn Tigers and USC Trojans so far this summer while LSU and Michigan are also pushing hard.

Wiggins was a surprise attendee at the spring game, making the trip with good friend and fellow Tribe ‘22 target OL Emery Jones. By all accounts he loved what he saw and would like to come back on an official visit. Wiggins is a standout basketball player in addition to his gridiron exploits and has serious size and athleticism. He’s a terror off the edge but based on his frame, he could even be a candidate to move to offensive tackle in the future.

Micheal Ibukun-Okeyode: 6’4”, 220 lbs (Rowlett, TX)

Ibukun-Okeyode holds a rating of 85 (3-star) and is considered the 741st best player (35th best WDE and 103rd best player in Texas). He holds over a dozen offers with FSU offering him on 4/12/2021. He currently has official visits lined up for the Kansas State Wildcats, Oklahoma State Cowboys, and SMU Mustangs, all in June, and has seen his recruitment pick up of late.

Ibukun-Okeyode likes working off the edge and depending on the defensive call, shows a good range of pursuit and patience as passing plays develop, keeping his head up and watching the quarterback. He doesn’t give up on plays and shows good tackling form. He looks to be a developmental player who could fill an edge role or even play some outside linebacker in the right scheme fit.

Caden Story: 6’4”, 235 lbs (Lanett, AL)

Story holds a rating of 91 (4-star) and is considered the 218th best player (10th best SDE and 11th best player in Alabama). He holds a dozen offers with FSU joining the fray last week.

Auburn is thought to lead for Story and prior to receiving his FSU offer, he announced he’d be committing on August 1st. He has one official visit scheduled for the Plains in mid-June. FSU has catching up to do here if they want to snatch Story out of state, and will push to get him to Tallahassee over the summer to make things interesting. Story has excellent bloodlines, as his uncle is NFL TE Marcus Pollard and his brother Kristian plays for Alabama (who has yet to offer).

Samuel Okunlola: 6’4”, 225 lbs (Brockton, MA)

Okunlola holds a rating of 87 (3-star) and is considered the 539th best player (37th best SDE and 4th best player in Massachusetts). He holds 42 offers, with the most recent coming from Clemson, FSU, Georgia, the Tennessee Volunteers, and Texas. His younger brother, Samson, is a highly sought-after offensive lineman for 2023.

The elder Okunlola shows good athleticism and strong hands when engaged with offensive linemen. He looks to be more of a developmental prospect and doesn’t play against great competition up north, but has shown well during the camp circuit, confirming he is a P5 prospect. FSU will try to get the brothers on campus, preferably during warm weather :)

Riley Quick: 6’5”, 255 lbs (Trussville, AL)

Quick holds a rating of 94 (4-star) and is considered the 143rd best player (8th best SDE and 8th best player in Alabama). He holds two dozen offers, with both in-state schools seemingly standing out.

Quick plays offensive tackle and defensive line for his high school and looks like a bona fide blue-chip prospect on both sides of the ball. He’s also a premier baseball prospect with a 93 MPH fastball—he’s already thrown a no-hitter and hit a grand slam among other feats this season. Interestingly, he recently said he likely won’t play both sports in college, so this’ll be one to monitor.