In last week’s Florida State of Recruiting: Where Tribe ‘22 stands right now article, I discussed the incredible summer recruiting momentum the ‘Noles enjoyed in May and June.
Now, let’s talk about where the 2022 recruiting class could go from this point forward, with an emphasis on July and August, leading into what’s shaping up to be a potential make-or-break recruiting weekend for official visitors: the Notre Dame primetime matchup on September 5.
Below is FSU’s current recruiting class, ranked 4th in the nation and best in the ACC at the time of this writing:
- 5-star cornerback/wide receiver Travis Hunter (GA)
- 5-star safety/athlete Sam McCall (FL)
- 4-star quarterback AJ Duffy (FL)
- 4 star offensive, defensive lineman Antavious “Tae” Woody (AL)
- 4-star offensive guard/tackle Aliou Bah (FL)
- 4-star offensive guard/tackle Qae’shon Sapp (GA)
- 4-star defensive end Trevion Williams (MS)
- 3 star running back/athlete Rodney Hill (GA)
- 3-star wide receiver/return specialist Devaughn Mortimer (FL)
- 3-star tight end Brian Courtney (VA)
- 3-star tight end Jerrale Powers (TX)
- 3 star offensive guard Kanaya Charlton (GA)
- 3-star defensive tackle Bishop Thomas (FL)
- 3-star defensive end Aaron Hester (FL)
- 3-star linebacker Omar Graham Jr. (FL)
The emphasis on the offensive and defensive lines thus far has been very encouraging to see, as well as some serious talent at defensive back and quarterback.
So, the question remains: Where might FSU head in the coming months to build upon this excellent foundation?
There are two priority targets, both offensive tackles, who have set commitment dates before September. Seminole fans should pay attention to these names:
Offensive tackle Daughtry Richardson
Richardson has long been a target for Florida State and OL coach Alex Atkins. I considered him a silent commitment for much of the spring until he started getting serious about the Miami (FL) Hurricanes. This coincided with FSU starting to take more offensive linemen in Tribe ‘22, so I openly wondered whether Richardson had missed his opportunity to suit up for the garnet and gold (unless FSU missed out on some higher targets). However, some more information has recently come to light, and I’m feeling better about Richardson potentially spurning the Canes in favor of FSU when he announces his choice on July 26.
Offensive lineman Jaylen Early
Early was among the nine official visitors during FSU’s highly successful June 25 weekend, and he thoroughly enjoyed the honesty and transparency from Atkins & Co. while on campus. His teammate, TE Jerrale Powers, pulled the trigger for FSU on July 2, but Early pushed back his commitment date to give himself more time. He has officially visited the Ohio State Buckeyes, Texas A&M Aggies, and Texas Tech Red Raiders, and has stated a desire to check out the Penn State Nittany Lions. However, as of now, I project the Florida State Seminoles to secure his commitment when he announces on August 2, barring something crazy. He’s a true blue-chip lineman and would be another big win on the trail for FSU, who is thought to like Early as an offensive tackle, despite his listing as an interior OL.
Two more cigars on the way for Mr. Atkins?
Other prospects haven’t set commitment dates who could pop in the summer, but I’d prefer not to speculate on the whims of 17-year-olds making surprise commitments. I’ll be updating the Florida State of Recruiting position articles in the coming month in more detail, but let’s take a look at where each position stands right now, which ones could be set, and which ones are looking for more commitments.
Offensive Coordinator Kenny Dillingham has his man in blue-chip A.J. Duffy. Duffy plays for IMG Academy, and I firmly believe the only reason he isn’t ranked higher in the composite is due to his lack of junior season highlights (his season was lost due to California not allowing football). Former commitment Nicco Marchiol has since pledged to the West Virginia Mountaineers, which is actually a very nice fit for him. We wish him well!
Duffy’s commitment (and status as a lead peer recruiter on the trail) gives FSU an excellent cushion to wait and see what develops on the quarterback landscape, should the Seminoles decide to take a second QB, which isn’t a given this cycle. The staff will continue to survey their options as the season progresses and more film becomes available on certain prospects such as Thomas Castellanos, and they’ll also monitor the transfer portal.
Let’s start with a declaration: Seminole fans need to do a better job appreciating Rodney Hill, both as a prospect and as a peer recruiter. Hill flipped from Virginia to FSU back in April and has been a constant positive voice for the garnet and gold on social media ever since. While listed as an athlete, Hill projects as a running back for FSU. He’s a dynamic athlete and often forgotten about when ‘Nole fans discuss Tribe ‘22, but he shouldn’t be.
We know FSU wants at least one more true running back in this class. Jaylon Glover took his official visit to Tallahassee on June 21 and has long been considered an FSU lean. I strongly believe he’ll be in this class if FSU gives him the green light. The coaches are still involved with Jovantae Barnes and Kaytron Allen (and to a lesser extent Terrence Gibbs) and will push for Barnes and Allen to take official visits (Gibbs already took his and will likely end up choosing the Florida Gators). Running backs also tend to pop up during their senior seasons, so it’ll be interesting to see how things play out for this unit, as the running back class may not be filled until Signing Day.
FSU currently holds a commitment from Devaughn Mortimer, a speed demon and special teams weapon, who also happens to team up with DE Nyjalik Kelly at Dillard High School. Mortimer jumped on board in March and is working hard to get Kelly back on board, but is worthy of a scholarship in his own right.
Wide receivers coach Ron Dugans would like to add two or three more prospects to his unit, and my goodness, there’s some star power among those names. As of now, I’m confident one of those will be jumbo WR Jaleel Skinner. During FSU’s Midnight Madness recruiting event, Skinner was a headline visitor, and he’s among the star-studded official visitors scheduled for the Notre Dame game. As long as FSU can show him how successful he’ll be in the offense, Skinner should be Tallahassee-bound.
Next up is the 5-star stud from St. Louis, Kevin Coleman. Coleman is among the top WRs in America and loves FSU. He had an excellent unofficial visit to Tallahassee, hopes to make another summer trip, and then intends to officially visit for the Notre Dame opener, as well. Travis Hunter is working hard to bring Coleman (and Skinner) to Tallahassee. Beating the Alabama Crimson Tide, Texas Longhorns and just about everyone else in the country for Coleman’s signature would be a towering accomplishment...but as of today, I think it’s going to happen!
The other WR spot could be taken by several different options, and much of it depends on Tribe ‘21 commitment Destyn Hill.
We don’t yet know when, or if, Hill will make it campus, but the hope seems to be he’ll enroll in spring 2022. The uncertainty is definitely factored into FSU’s plans for the position. The ‘Noles are trying to convince rising star Andre Greene Jr. to use one of his last two official visits. Jayden Gibson is another fast-rising prospect who FSU would love to land, but must overcome his UF ties and a recent Georgia Bulldogs offer. Other targets may pop up during the fall, or FSU may look to the transfer portal, once again.
Oh yeah, and some kid named Travis Hunter may play a little WR here and there, supposedly...
TE coach Chris Thomsen has two tight ends committed for Tribe ‘22 in Brian Courtney and Jerrale Powers, meaning this position is complete unless one jumps ship. Courtney’s a jumbo athlete with a high football IQ and has experience playing quarterback. He could potentially see time at tight end, split out wide, or lined up in the backfield as an H-Back. Powers offers nice speed for his size and a mismatch against linebackers.
Alex Atkins has, quite simply, been crushing recruiting this cycle. Following the June 25 weekend, Atkins has completed the interior offensive line class by adding Kanaya Charlton, Qae’shon Sapp, and potentially Antavious “Tae” Woody to an existing commitment from Aliou Bah. Sapp, Bah, and Woody can all play offensive tackle in a pinch, but we believe FSU likes all these guys on the interior. Personal opinion- I think Woody ends up as a defensive tackle at FSU unless some attrition happens from the OL class.
Keeping in mind the potential additions of Daughtry Richardson and/or Jaylen Early, FSU’s still likely looking to add one more big name at offensive tackle. The Seminoles are still very much in the running for Julian Armella, Elijah Pritchett, Eston Harris Jr. (another of the Notre Dame game's official visitors), and Bryson Hurst. Patrick Kutas (who also plays DL) is another prospect FSU is monitoring as a backup plan.
I think they’ll bring in six or seven offensive linemen (seven only if Woody stays on the OL).
The June 25 weekend was also fruitful for the defensive line, with longtime FSU lean DT Bishop Thomas and DE/Edge Trevion Williams joining DE commit Aaron Hester in Tribe ‘22. Thomas is a compact bulldozer who played with Tribe ‘21 signee Byron Turner Jr. in New Orleans before moving to Orlando to finish his high school career.
While Thomas’ commitment was long expected, Williams was both a surprise official visitor and then a surprise commitment. One of the fastest-rising prospects in the nation, Williams spurned the in-state Mississippi State Bulldogs and Ole Miss Rebels to join the ‘Noles. He’s also rumored to be transferring to play his senior season alongside Travis Hunter at Collins Hill High School (GA), which gets him out of the pressure-cooker environment in Mississippi. He’s a superb athlete who could potentially grow into a DT down the line.
Hester is often overlooked, but he shouldn’t be. One of the longest-tenured Tribe ‘22 commits, Hester has transformed his body over the past year, and it may help him see the field sooner than originally expected. One of several legacy recruits, Hester has also been vocal among his peers on the trail. He should be a 4-star prospect in my opinion and could surprise some folks down the line.
FSU is still hoping to add a couple more defensive linemen. Defensive ends Marvin Jones Jr (officially visiting for the Miami game on November 13) and former commit Nyjalik Kelly (officially visiting for the Notre Dame game) are priorities for the staff. FSU is still involved with Homestead High School teammates EDGE Dante Anderson and DT Daniel Lyons and will try to set up official visits for both. The coaches are in regular communication with studs Shemar Stewart and Anthony Lucas, but I’m not confident in FSU’s chances with either. Tae Woody could very well factor into the DT class based on what happens with OL targets. Woody excelled at DT in recent camp circuits and could be the best DT prospect FSU has signed in the past several cycles. I also expect FSU to closely monitor the transfer portal for an established DT.
FSU struck early at this position with the commitment of Omar Graham Jr. following his June 12 official visit. Graham’s a nice prospect in the new mold of linebacker that I’ve discussed previously. Linebackers must now possess more speed, agility, and coverage skills to keep up with modern offenses, and Graham offers a good understanding of pursuit angles and should make an early impact on special teams.
FSU still wants two or three more linebackers, and I believe the top two targets are Daniel Martin and current Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets commit Jaron Willis.
Martin’s an exceptional athlete who can do it all, yet still has a tantalizingly high ceiling. He has yet to set all five official visits, but took one to see the Vanderbilt Commodores in June and will be in town for the Notre Dame game weekend. The Oregon Ducks are thought to be another contender. We don’t yet know if or when bigger programs could enter the picture for Martin, but as of now, I like FSU’s chances.
Willis spent the June 25 weekend in Tallahassee on his official visit and left Tallahassee with much more to think about. I like FSU’s chances to flip him after the coaches sold him on where he fits in their defensive scheme. Despite his commitment to Georgia Tech, Willis still followed through on visiting FSU, which speaks volumes.
Wesley Bissainthe is still high on FSU’s wish list and plans to visit Tallahassee on the weekend of September 25, but Miami sits in a very strong position with him, so I think the coaches are being realistic there. EJ Lightsey plans to officially visit for the Notre Dame game and this could turn into an FSU-UF recruiting battle. Lightsey has steadily climbed up the recruiting boards for numerous programs.
FSU’s defensive back class consists of two players, but both exude serious star power. Travis Hunter has a shot at being a Seminole legend by the time he moves on to the NFL- he’s a legitimate 5-star prospect at defensive back and as a wide receiver, and is the best prep football player in the country.
Sam McCall is also a 5-star who flipped from UF. McCall can play wide receiver, but he projects best as a defensive back. Hunter and McCall are immediate contributors, and Hunter is possibly the best peer recruiter to ever be associated with Florida State.
FSU would like to bring in one or two more defensive backs, and that wish list starts with another 5-star in IMG’s Daylen Everette, who officially visited on June 21. Everette’s an outstanding prospect, and FSU gave him a lot to think about, but I believe he’ll ultimately end up with the rival Clemson Tigers.
Earl Little Jr. is another prospect FSU would love to land, and he’ll officially visit campus on September 25, but I think Alabama will end up with his services.
Kamari Wilson is a total stud at safety, and FSU will try to get him in on a visit, but Georgia will be tough to beat.
I have my eye on some other names that are more realistic options. Deyon “Smoke” Bouie is being courted heavily by the coaches, who hope to get him in on an official visit in the fall. Bouie is a 5-star athlete who could play offense or defense (notice a theme here?), but I personally like him at corner.
Kendrick Law is a dynamic athlete from Louisiana who could play on offense or defense, and he’ll officially visit for the Notre Dame game. I absolutely love his film and potential.
JQ Hardaway, Jhamal Shelby, Tre Donaldson, and a pair of Arizona State Sun Devils commits, Alfonzo Allen and Jaylin Marshall, are some other names to watch.
As you can see, Mike Norvell and his staff are well-positioned to bring in the type of recruiting haul that can change the trajectory of a program. Obviously the results on the field matter—we all know that. As long as the team consistently demonstrates marked improvement from last season, this staff can show these prospects exactly how and where they’ll be used, continue to walk the talk with the family environment, and seal the deal on some major targets moving forward.
It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about Florida State recruiting and even longer since I’ve been so impressed by numerous FSU coaches on the trail.
Stay tuned for updated Florida State of Recruiting position articles, more podcasts from the Tomahawk Nation recruiting team, and my first mock class later this month. Until then, hang out with us in the Recruiting Threads as we wind our way closer to the season!