A few months ago, I wrote a two part breakdown on FSU’s 2022 recruiting class. In the Florida State of Recruiting: Where Tribe ‘22 stands right now and Florida State of Recruiting: Where Tribe ‘22 goes from here articles, I discussed the incredible summer recruiting momentum the ‘Noles enjoyed in May and June and made some predictions on who else would join the class prior to the season kicking off.
Offensive linemen Daughtry Richardson and Jaylen Early joined the Tribe, which we fully expected, but FSU also landed a commitment from defensive tackle Daniel Lyons, which transpired earlier than anticipated. These three additions were a nice boost for the coaches prior to hitting an uneventful close to the summer (which is good news, as no one jumped ship).
Now, the moment is finally upon us, as the summer recruiting momentum leads into what’s shaping up to be a potential make-or-break weekend for official visitors: the Notre Dame primetime matchup on September 5. Make no mistake, this’ll be the biggest in-season recruiting weekend Tallahassee has seen in years!
Below is FSU’s current recruiting class, ranked 10th 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 lineman Jaylen Early (TX)
- 4 star offensive lineman Qae’shon Sapp (GA)
- 4 star defensive end Trevion Williams (MS)
- 3 star offensive lineman Aliou Bah (FL)
- 3 star offensive lineman Daughtry Richardson (FL)
- 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 lineman Kanaya Charlton (GA)
- 3 star defensive tackle Daniel Lyons (FL)
- 3 star defensive tackle Bishop Thomas (FL)
- 3 star defensive end Aaron Hester (FL)
- 3 star linebacker Omar Graham Jr. (FL)
The emphasis on numbers along the offensive and defensive lines has been very encouraging, along with some serious talent at defensive back and a top-notch quarterback.
With six or seven high school spots remaining, let’s take a look at updated position outlooks and which names FSU continues to chase to fill out Tribe ‘22.
Quarterback - Completed (1 total)
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 247 Sports Composite Rankings 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 offensive bell cow to build around. The staff will continue to survey QB options as the season progresses and more film becomes available on certain prospects (while also monitoring the transfer portal), but we believe Duffy will be the lone wolf at the QB position for Tribe 22.
Running Back - Maybe 1 more (1 or 2 total)
Y’all, we all 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 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. He’s already putting out serious statistics in this young season, racking up 200 all-purpose yards, a 70-yard touchdown catch, and a pick-6 in his first game!
#Tribe22 RB commit @rodney_hill10 doing some work in the pass game:— The Three Stars (@TheThree_Stars) August 28, 2021
We know FSU would like to add one more running back in this cycle, but doesn’t feel it’s a necessity. It appears the coaching staff has prioritized Jovantae Barnes, who’s expected to officially visit Tallahassee at some point this season. The Seminoles are battling Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Ole Miss for Barnes, who plays in Nevada, but has family ties to the Sunshine State.
Jaylon Glover committed to the Utah Utes, Kaytron Allen chose the Penn State Nittany Lions, and Terrance Gibbs ended up with the Florida Gators. Running backs tend to emerge during their senior seasons, so FSU may ultimately expand its board. Also keep in mind that FSU has already benefitted from running backs in the Transfer Portal, which could prove beneficial this cycle, once again, based on options available and how the coaches feel about positional depth.
Wide Receiver - 2 more (3 total)
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 and locked in with the ‘Noles.
Wide receivers coach Ron Dugans would like to add two more high school prospects to his unit, and my goodness, there’s some serious star power among those names. As of now, atop the wish list is 4-star 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 improvement in the passing game, as well as how successful he’ll be in the offense, I believe Skinner will be Tallahassee-bound, despite the other programs pushing for him. The wildcard would be if Clemson goes all-in on him, which hasn’t happened yet. Skinner has said he plans to make his commitment in October.
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 in the summer and 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, Oregon Ducks, Texas Longhorns and just about everyone else in the country for Coleman’s signature would be a towering accomplishment...but as of today, I’m still VERY confident it’ll happen. Oregon has surged for him of late.
Another WR spot is in play and 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 consensus from the staff seems to point to a Spring 2022 enrollment. Assuming Hill makes it in, the 2022 WR class will likely cap at three. However, the uncertainty is definitely factored into FSU’s plans for the position.
The ‘Noles are trying to convince Jayden Gibson to visit during the season, but must overcome his UF ties, and a potentially game-changing Georgia Bulldogs offer. One of my favorite players this cycle, Kendrick Law, will also visit for the Notre Dame game. I’m including him at WR, but Law is a total stud who could play offense or defense at the next level. It’ll be extremely tough to pull him away from the home-state LSU Tigers, but FSU will certainly do all it can to bring him to Tallahassee. Other targets may emerge 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...
Tight End - Complete (2 total)
TE coach Chris Thomsen has two tight ends committed for Tribe ‘22 in Brian Courtney and Jerrale Powers, meaning this position is complete, assuming no attrition. Courtney’s a jumbo athlete with a high football IQ and 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 potential mismatch against linebackers.
Offensive Line - 1 or 2 more, depends on commit attrition (6 or 7 total)
Alex Atkins has, quite simply, crushed recruiting this cycle and FSU fans are likely still celebrating his contract extension.
Atkins has completed the interior offensive line class by adding Kanaya Charlton, Qae’shon Sapp, and Antavious “Tae” Woody to an existing commitment from Aliou Bah. Sapp, Bah, and Woody could all play offensive tackle in a pinch, but we believe FSU likes all three on the interior. Woody could also end up as a defensive tackle at FSU, giving some rare lineman positional flexibility to the coaches.
We tried to tell y’all OL/DL commit @Tae_woody was versatile!— The Three Stars (@TheThree_Stars) August 28, 2021
The additions of Richardson and Early give FSU some talent and depth along the offensive tackle position, with Richardson being viewed as strictly an OT and Early also able to slide inside if needed. FSU is looking to add at least one more big name at offensive tackle. The Seminoles are still very much in the running for Julian Armella (unofficial visitor for the Notre Dame game), Elijah Pritchett (a mainstay on FSU’s campus this summer and visiting for the opener, as well), and Eston Harris Jr., who was originally on the Notre Dame visitor’s list but has since been removed (unsure if it’s a rescheduling situation or not at this time). I think FSU will bring in six or seven offensive linemen (including Woody), and I think of the three names here, Pritchett is the most likely candidate to fill the last spot (which would be another significant win for Atkins on the trail).
It’s important to note that as more talent comes in, offensive line is the most likely position to see attrition from the Tribe 22 commit list. I have my eye on Bah as a decommit candidate, as he may choose to go to a program with fewer commits and play OT. I still think Harris Jr. ultimately winds up at Auburn but depending on numbers, he could be an option to fill a spot vacated by a decommitment. Sadly, as of today, I think Armella will join several of his former teammates at LSU, but I need to re-emphasize that FSU is still a major player for him.
Defensive Line - 1 more (5 total)
The summer was also fruitful for the defensive line, with longtime FSU lean DT Bishop Thomas, DE/Edge Trevion Williams, and DT Daniel Lyons 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 a surprise official visitor before becoming 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 a superb athlete who could potentially grow into a DT down the line.
Lyons is a very productive defender who shows good strength and ability to get into the backfield. Long coveted by Odell Haggins, Lyons projects as a multi-year rotational contributor who should have a nice career. Lyons is also teammates with DE Dante Anderson, who could still be an option for FSU should the staff miss on bigger names.
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 one more defensive linemen, specifically an EDGE. 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 the two priorities for the staff. FSU needs to have a strong season in order to land either prospect. As of today, I still believe they’ll land Jones, Jr. but will miss out on Kelly.
FSU is still sneakily involved with 5 star UGA commit Tyre West and rumor has it that their efforts could result in campus visit for the Notre Dame game (this has since been confirmed), but the odds of flipping West are tough. With a strong season it would become more likely but I’m nowhere near confident enough to project him anywhere other than UGA as of today. As mentioned earlier, Woody could very well factor into the DT class based on what happens with OL targets. Woody excelled at DT in summer camp circuits and could be the best DT prospect FSU has signed the past several cycles. I also expect FSU to closely monitor the transfer portal for an established defensive lineman, most likely a DT.
Linebacker - 2 more (3 total)
FSU struck early at this position with the commitment of Omar Graham Jr. following his June 12 official visit. Graham is a nice prospect in the new mold of linebacker that I’ve discussed previously.
#FSU LB commit Omar Graham laying the BOOM! @OGrahamjr pic.twitter.com/ZoSz62pkhF— The Three Stars (@TheThree_Stars) August 20, 2021
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 more linebackers, and that wish list includes Daniel Martin, Wesley Bissainthe, and Jaron Willis.
Martin is 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 Tallahassee as an official visitor 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, FSU trails Vanderbilt in this recruitment (before you roll your eyes too hard, Martin is seriously focused on academics).
Bissainthe is still very 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. I think the coaches are still taking their best shot and much will depend on how the programs fare on the field this year, but being realistic is important, and Bissainthe currently seems to be drinking the Cane Kool-Aid.
A wildcard to consider is current Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets commit Jaron Willis. Willis has flirted heavily with FSU throughout the summer, only to pull back to GT at the last moment. Despite spurning the ‘Noles twice already, Willis has stated that he plans to visit campus again, and we’re hearing he’ll be at the Notre Dame game. We don’t yet know how the coaches are prioritizing him after the summer shenanigans, and it’ll also be interesting to see how the Georgia Tech staff reacts if Willis follows through on his plans. I’ve been saying all along that if FSU continues to recruit him, he’ll eventually flip, so it’d be disingenuous for me to change that now since it appears his recruitment rages on. Regardless, I’d strongly advise the young man to dump whomever has been in his ear through the summer and seriously zap the drama.
Frankly, 2022 linebacker recruiting has really disappointed me thus far, and I still can’t understand why FSU chose not to bring in help from the transfer portal linebacker. Lesser prospects like Devin Smith would jump at a committable offer, but I think linebacker is the first position FSU will look to hit in the transfer portal moving through this cycle and into the next. It’s the next position room that needs to be flipped, and fast.
Defensive Back - 1 more (3 total)
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 leaves for the NFL- he’s a legitimate 5-star prospect at defensive back and wide receiver, and as we’ve been saying since before it was cool, is the best prep football player in the country.
Travis Hunter is SPECIAL!! @TravisHunterJr— The Three Stars (@TheThree_Stars) August 24, 2021
I strongly believe he’ll play both ways at FSU, but am listing him with the defensive backs.
Sam McCall is also a 5-star (and a Gator flip). McCall can play wide receiver, but he projects best as a defensive back and will most likely stick to defense at FSU. Hunter and McCall are immediate contributors, and Hunter is possibly the best peer recruiter to ever be associated with Florida State. I’m still a bit nervous about McCall’s commitment- he certainly says all the right things, but if the season goes south, I think McCall will be among the first to seriously look at other options.
FSU would like to bring in one more defensive back, and that wish list starts with Marvin Jones, Jr’s teammate, Earl Little Jr. Little, Jr. will officially visit campus on September 25. I still think it’s as close to a lock as possible that Alabama will end up with his services. However, should the Crimson Tide decide to pass on Little, Jr., FSU has positioned itself as the next-best option for the talented CB.
The two names I’m watching most closely to round out the DB class are Alabama speedster Jarell Stinson and recent Mississippi State Bulldogs decommit Decarlos Nicholson.
Stinson’s recruitment has blown up, and the coaches love his versatility as a defender and a special teams weapon. He’s planning to OV during the season, and the Seminoles are battling UF, UCF (Malzahn and co. still have ties with him), and Ole Miss for Stinson.
Nicholson, a JUCO prospect with excellent size, unofficially visited FSU over the summer and jumped ship from the Bulldogs within a month. He’ll officially visit on November 13, and FSU is considered the leader for him right now. Nicholson is my bet to round out the DB class.
NoleThruandThru’s First Tribe ‘22 Mock Class
*This is how I think things shake out as of today—I’m operating under my season prediction of a demonstrably-improved FSU earning 6 wins and a bowl game berth. We all know how scholarship numbers can change, but I’m also operating with a standard class size of 25 and am not factoring in transfer portal additions or numbers.
QB 4 star AJ Duffy
RB 3 star Rodney Hill
WR 5 star Kevin Coleman
WR 4 star Jaleel Skinner
WR 3 star Devaughn Mortimer
TE 3 star Brian Courtney
TE 3 star Jerrale Powers
OL 4 star Elijah Pritchett
OL 4 star Jaylen Early
OL 4 star Qae’shon Sapp
OL 4 star Tae Woody
OL 3 star Eston Harris, Jr.
OL 3 star Daughtry Richardson
OL 3 star Kanaya Charlton
DL 4 star Marvin Jones, Jr.
DL 4 star Trevion Williams
DL 3 star Aaron Hester
DL 3 star Bishop Thomas
DL 3 star Daniel Lyons
LB 4 star Daniel Martin
LB 4 star Jaron Willis
LB 3 star Omar Graham, Jr.
DB 6 star Travis Hunter
DB 5 star Sam McCall
DB 3 star Decarlos Nicholson
- Regarding uncommitted prospects I’ve included in the class, here’s my confidence breakdown (most to least):
A. Kevin Coleman
2. Decarlos Nicholson
D. Marvin Jones, Jr.
B. Elijah Pritchett
0. Jaleel Skinner
W. Daniel Martin
D. Jaron Willis
3N. Eston Harris, Jr. (paired with a Bah decommitment)
- I don’t like predicting decommitments, but my gut tells me Bah is going to flip to a program where he can be part of a smaller OL class and play offensive tackle. I hope I’m wrong, but with that in mind, I plugged in Harris, Jr. as someone who would take his spot in the class (assuming his OV is rescheduled and FSU takes seven OL). If not Harris, another transfer or portal addition could take the scholarship. I’m least confident in this projection.
- FSU will be in it until the end for Armella, but the way things seem to be trending, I think the ‘Noles will finish second to LSU. Ed Orgeron and Co. have done a magnificent job recruiting the Armella family and two of his former high school OL teammates are already in Baton Rouge.
- The negativity around Jones, Jr. and FSU is overblown in my opinion. It’s going to be very difficult and wins will matter, but I think FSU wins out over the Ohio State Buckeyes and Miami (FL) Hurricanes.
- Kelly will end up at a different program. My guess today would be as part of Manny Diaz’s merry misfits.
- If- and this is a big IF- the coaches decide to keep recruiting Willis at a high level, I believe he’ll ultimately flip to FSU. As of today, however, I just don’t know if the coaches would allow this to happen with Norvell’s focus on strong character and locker room dynamics. Despite his plans to visit for the Notre Dame game, there’s still a chance the FSU staff cuts bait after Willis’ shenanigans last month. Stay tuned!
- I’m not optimistic on LB recruiting and think the transfer portal will be a necessity here. I’m also expecting transfer portal focus along the lines and maybe the RB and QB positions, depending on attrition. Coaches have mentioned that as they build the program, they hope to focus much more on prep prospects and less on transfers, but we’ll see how true that is after this season.
As evidenced by their fantastic summer, Mike Norvell and his staff are well-positioned to bring in the type of recruiting haul that can change a program. Obviously on-field results still matter (we all know that), and the time is finally here where FSU will show the nation whether its ready to take the next step toward excellence. As long as the team consistently demonstrates marked improvement, 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.
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 Seminoles coaches on the trail. We’ll revisit this article midway through the season to see how brutally wrong I am :)
Stay tuned for more podcasts from the Florida State of Recruiting Podcast ft. the Three Stars and if you’re on social media, give us a follow.
Also, hang out with us in the latest Recruiting Thread as we amp up for the huge weekend to come!