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

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DBU!

Earl Little, Travis Hunter, and Sam McCall

As we’ve formally turned the page to the Class of 2022, we’re wrapping up our Florida State of Recruiting series. 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

Defensive Ends

Defensive Tackles

Linebackers

Tribe ‘22 State of Recruiting: Defensive Backs

The Committed

Travis Hunter: 6’1”, 165 lbs (Suwanee, GA)

Hunter holds a rating of 99 (5-star) in the 247 Sports Composite ranking and is considered the 3rd best player in the nation (the best CB and the best player in Georgia). He would also be ranked as the best WR in the nation, or the best ATH... it really doesn’t matter, he’s that dadgum good. And as I’ve said previously, I think his ranking of 3rd-best player nationally is too low.

Hunter’s rock solid and perhaps FSU’s most important weapon on the recruiting trail. He’ll be a strong presence on every major visiting weekend and an immediate difference-maker on both sides of the ball. Basically, he’s the rare prospect who has what it takes to become a Seminole legend (assuming good health).

Sam McCall: 6’0”, 180 lbs (Lakeland, FL)

McCall holds a rating of 98 (5-star) and is considered the 32nd best player in the nation (4th best ATH and 6th best player in Florida). McCall joined the Tribe ‘22 class on February 28 and is considered a firm commitment, but he will still take official visits to see the Miami (FL) Hurricanes and South Carolina Gamecocks, and possibly the LSU Tigers or Florida Gators (he was previously committed to Dan Mullen and Co.).

McCall’s listed as an athlete, but translates best to either cornerback or safety. He could also see spot time at WR (depending on how that unit looks), as he’s a proven offensive weapon. McCall stands out as an instinctual player. He also shows no fear contesting passes and has good hands, resulting in takeaways other DBs might drop. He’s a future starter and difference-maker.

The Targets

Daylen Everette: 6’1”, 185 lbs (Bradenton, FL)

Everette holds a rating of 98 (5-star) and is considered the 38th best player in the nation (7th best CB and 7th best player in Florida). Everette has nearly 30 offers with FSU in his top five along with the Clemson Tigers, Georgia Bulldogs, North Carolina Tar Heels, and Oregon Ducks. The Tigers and Bulldogs are thought to be the strongest contenders with UNC and FSU in dark horse roles.

Everette does an excellent job flipping his hips and mirroring WRs, often timing his jump perfectly and creating turnovers. He has no problem playing physically and shows very good instincts and an ability to read the QB’s eyes. I included his sophomore highlights prior to his transfer to IMG because as a junior, teams were smart enough not to throw his direction. As a sophomore, he tallied 11 INTs. He’s a future NFL prospect.

Earl Little, Jr: 6’0”, 175 lbs (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Little holds a rating of 95 (4-star) and is considered the 102nd best player in the nation (12th best CB and 13th best player in Florida). He is the teammate of Seminole legacy and fellow Tribe ‘22 target Marvin Jones Jr. and holds nearly 40 offers from top programs around the country. FSU’s in his top four along with the Alabama Crimson Tide, UF, and LSU.

Little shows great instincts and a willingness to get physical with receivers. I think he can be a force as a nickel corner who can blitz periodically. He’s another future NFL prospect and I’ve included Little in this section because he plans on officially visiting FSU, as the coaches have worked extremely hard in his recruitment. I’ll be real with y’all, though—it’s going to be extremely difficult for anyone to beat Alabama here because Nick Saban is heavily involved in recruiting Little, and it’s (naturally) having an enormous impact.

JaCorey Thomas: 6’1”, 188 lbs (Orlando, FL)

Thomas holds a rating of 88 (3-star) and is considered the 449th best player in the nation (37th best ATH and 67th best player in Florida). We feel the coaches see Thomas as a defensive back, and he teamed up with Tribe ‘21 DL signee Shambre Jackson at Boone. Nearing 30 offers, FSU has long been considered a favorite, but that hasn’t stopped other schools from pushing hard (UF FINALLY offered him a few days ago—no idea what took those knuckleheads so long...)

A 2020 Orlando Sentinel “2022 Super 60” selection, Thomas plays safety and wideout. He racked up 60 tackles, an interception, and two forced fumbles on defense, along with 976 total yards and 9 TDs on offense during his junior season. On defense, he can cover inside and diagnose plays quickly from his safety slot. He shows a willingness to tackle and blitz when called upon, and has good tracking ability.

Kendrick Law: 5’11”, 185 lbs (Shreveport, LA)

Law holds a rating of 95 (4-star) and is considered the 112th best player in the nation (9th best ATH and 6th best player in Louisiana). Law is thought to have a top two of LSU and FSU, and he has an OV locked in for September 5 when the ‘Noles host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He also holds offers from Alabama, the Auburn Tigers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Ole Miss Rebels, and Texas Longhorns, among others.

Law’s a two-way player at safety and wide receiver for his high school and to say he’s key to their success would be an understatement—he’s a true weapon in the return game, as his sophomore season highlights show. He’s also a stud on the track, posting a 10.93 100m and a 21-11 long jump...as a sophomore. He followed that up with a second place finish in the Louisiana state championship and a time of 10.48 in the 100m recently.

He’s a sculpted athlete with the frame and speed to play numerous positions. His athleticism shows out on the gridiron, and I feel his game is just as well-suited for defense, but special teams is where he’ll make his initial mark in college. LSU will obviously be tough to beat, but if FSU is able to land his commitment, he could find himself a jack of all trades.

Benjamin Morrison: 6’0”, 172 lbs (Phoenix, AZ)

Morrison holds a rating of 90 (4-star) and is considered the 288th best player in the nation (29th best CB and 9th best player in Arizona). Morrison holds 25 offers, with Notre Dame considered the leader over FSU, the Michigan Wolverines, Oklahoma Sooners, Oregon, and others.

Morrison’s highlights show his willingness to tackle, which is cool to see for a CB. He shows good form and loves contact. He also demonstrates good field awareness and can accelerate to the ball. Morrison plays WR and returns kicks for his high school, even blocking a kick on special teams. I think he’ll end up at Notre Dame unless something drastically changes.

Antonio Kite: 6’1”, 180 lbs (Anniston, AL)

Kite holds a rating of 89 (4-star) and is considered the 350th best player in the nation (22nd best ATH and 13th best player in Alabama). We believe FSU likes Kite as a DB and Kite certainly likes FSU quite a bit, along with the home state Crimson Tide, among his 15 offers.

Kite’s a legitimate basketball prospect and a two-way standout at safety, corner, and receiver. In his highlights, it’s easy to see that Kite relishes his role as free safety and the last line of defense. I love how easy he makes it look—picking off passes, covering 25 yards to snuff out a running back, whatever. The challenge doesn’t matter because Kite is the guy who’s going to finish it off. Alabama will obviously be tough to overcome if the staff pushes hard, but the ‘Noles will do everything they can to get Kite back on campus.

Nick Cull: 5’11”, 175 lbs (Donalsonville, GA)

Cull has yet to be ranked by all sites but holds a rating of 88 (3-star) from 247 Sports—they consider him the 44th best CB and 46th best player in Georgia. He’ll definitely be moving up in the rankings, as he’s garnered over 20 offers and is currently favoring Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Miami, and Ole Miss.

Cull is extremely aggressive and strong for his size, tossing a blocker aside early in his highlights and showing excellent speed on blitzes. He loves contact and is a solid tackler. He plays with an infectious swagger and shows good ability to stay with receivers and challenge for the ball. Cull also plays running back, as well as basketball for his high school.

J.Q. Hardaway: 6’3”, 185 lbs (Phenix City, AL)

Hardaway holds a rating of 88 (3-star) and is considered the 429th best player in the nation (40th best CB and 18th best player in Alabama). Hardaway is nearing 30 offers from the Cincinnati Bearcats, Florida, Georgia, the Maryland Terrapins, Michigan State Spartans, Oregon, and the USC Trojans.

Hardaway has an excellent combination of size and speed (he’s a long-strider, so it’s deceptive on film), which really shows when he contests balls in the air. He’s a willing tackler and plays special teams and offense, as well. Hardaway’s length helps him close quickly, and he shows an ability to turn his hips and play the ball on long throws.

Jhamal Shelby: 6’2”, 180 lbs (New Orleans, LA)

Shelby holds a rating of 87 (3-star) and is considered the 538th best player in the nation (56th best CB and 29th best player in Louisiana). This is a case of the staff getting on a prospect early, as Shelby only claims offers from the Memphis Tigers, Mississippi State, Tulane, and the Virginia Cavaliers.

Shelby plays with great joy and every time he makes a play, he lets everyone know. His confidence comes from a strong ability to jam receivers at the line with a physical and disruptive style. Shelby has experience at every position in the defensive backfield. He shows the aptitude to weave through traffic in the middle of the field without losing his man, and he takes the field with an alpha dog mentality.

Kamari Wilson: 6’1”, 195 lbs (Bradenton, FL)

Wilson holds a rating of 98 (5-star) and is considered the 24th best player in the nation (the best S and 5th best player in Florida). Nearing three dozen offers, Georgia finds itself in excellent position with Wilson and is followed by Florida, FSU, LSU, and the Texas A&M Aggies.

Wilson is quite simply a stud, and it’s easy to see why so many programs have prioritized him. He looks like he’s been sculpted out of clay, and he uses every ounce of his strength when tackling ball carriers. If I had to choose one word for the IMG safety, it’d be “punisher”. He arrives with nasty intentions and tackles through the ball carrier, often delivering hits with violence (sometimes getting flagged for it). He looks like a heat-seeking missile at times. I legitimately feel bad for his opponents. He’s a difference-maker, and a future NFL prospect.

Tre Donaldson: 6’2”, 190 lbs (Tallahassee, FL)

Donaldson holds a rating of 90 (4-star) and is considered the 260th best player in the nation (17th best S and 30th best player in Florida). A legitimate basketball prospect, as well, he holds 15 offers, with Florida, Ole Miss, and the Louisville Cardinals among his favorites.

Donaldson plays DB and QB for his high school and is a dynamic athlete with a nice array of moves. As a DB, he shows a good feel for tracking the ball and soft hands when attempting to catch said ball. He isn’t afraid of contact, but needs work on becoming a more consistent tackler. He doesn’t always take the best pursuit angles, but he’s quick to readjust and redirect.

Jaylin Marshall: 6’3”, 190 lbs (Hallandale, FL)

Marshall holds a rating of 89 (4-star) and is considered the 352nd best player in the nation (22nd best S and 43rd best player in Florida). Marshall is currently committed to the Arizona State Sun Devils, but has over 30 offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, UF, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, the Penn State Nittany Lions, Texas, and Texas A&M. I’d be very surprised if the Sun Devils can hold on to him, and FSU is among the suitors making it hardest on Herm Edwards and company after offering earlier this month.

Marshall saw time at corner, safety, linebacker, and even came off the edge a few times during his shortened 2020 season, accumulating 25 tackles, 10 passes defensed, and 4 sacks. He has a great frame and could potentially grow out of the defensive back position and into an outside linebacker. He’s more on the raw side and can sometimes be too aggressive in his pursuit, but with proper coaching and a few years in a quality S&C program, I think he has NFL potential.

Devin Moore: 6’2”, 175 lbs (Naples, FL)

Moore holds a rating of 87 (3-star) and is considered the 466th best player in the nation (29th best S and 64th best player in Florida). Moore holds two dozen offers, with Notre Dame and UF currently in front of FSU, Alabama, the Stanford Cardinal, and Miami (FL) among his top group.

Moore’s another prospect with good instincts and a penchant for making plays. Too often, he’s a finisher in a group of defenders trying to bring down a ball carrier and will need to get stronger at the next level, but he’s shown a willingness to get physical. He looks to be a player who may take a bit longer to fully develop, but he has a high ceiling.

JyVonte McClendon: 6’2”, 180 lbs (Lakeland, FL)

McClendon holds a rating of 87 (3-star) and is considered the 525th best player in the nation (33rd best S and 72nd best player in Florida). He teams up with McCall and fellow FSU targets Jaylon Glover (RB) and Cormani McClain (2023). McClendon is currently thought to favor Miami and South Carolina (the latter due to his connection with DB coach Torrian Gray).

McClendon has an ideal build for a safety and could easily put on another 15 pounds while retaining his speed and athleticism. He has good instincts and spatial awareness, great closing acceleration, a nose for the ball, and he is a playmaker after securing the interception. The Lake Gibson boys are a blast to watch, and it’d be a welcome sight to see them as teammates in Tallahassee.

D’arco Perkins-McAllister: 6’1”, 185 lbs (Nashville, TN)

Perkins-McAllister holds a rating of 86 (3-star) and is considered the 631st best player in the nation (38th best S and 24th best player in Tennessee). Perkins-McAllister is the most recent among this group to earn an offer, and he’s racked up some other big offers recently, pushing his total to nearly 40 and possibly shaking things up for potential visits.

DPM plays running back and safety for his high school, and the latter is where he shines. He does an excellent job reading the QB’s eyes and keeping himself in position to make plays and cause turnovers, whether through cross-field run pursuit, or in coverage. He has a flair for making big hits, but also shows good instincts. It’ll be interesting to see if FSU can nudge its way into his top group.

As always, head on over to the Recruiting Thread to discuss the latest on the trail!