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Spring Recruiting Board: Defense

In this installment of our Spring recruiting review, we look at the roster on the defensive side of the ball for Florida State, projecting what the coaches need to bring in for the 2021 recruiting class. 

FSU landed nine defensive recruits in 2020, as well as two transfers, to help bolster the roster. The class was heavy on linebackers which was a major need for the defense, but it lacked on the defensive line. 

This is the first full class for the new defensive staff. We should see a shift in the type of recruits targeted as they look for players that fit their schemes. Therefore players that may have been offered by the previous staff may not be targets moving forward, as well as we may see offers go out to recruits we may not be familiar with. One thing this staff does well is evaluate and find the right pieces to the puzzle.

Remember to take into consideration that this isn’t a recruiting class projection, more a focus on the numbers on the roster and what FSU needs to sign to remain competitive and healthy at each position. Let’s breakdown the FSU needs on the defensive side of the ball for the 2021 class.

Defensive Tackle:

Current Roster: Marvin Wilson, Cory Durden, Robert Cooper, Jamarcus Chatman, Tru Thompson, Quashon Fuller, Malcolm Ray, Manny Rodgers

Need for 2021 Class: 2

2021 Commitments: None

2021 Targets: Marquis Robinson, Victory Vaka, Anthony Hundley, Lee Hunter, Tim Williams

FSU landed two five stars in Wilson and Durden returning for this year, but they only signed one lineman in 2020, and four the previous two classes. There should be little attrition here after the 2020 season with six players returning. FSU needs to bring in at least two here to hit needs with the preference of signing at worst one blue-chip, immediate contributor. The Seminoles have not extended a ton of offers here and at the current time have a small group of targets to choose from. Two of those targets are committed to other schools at this time. Simply put, FSU has work to do here. 

Defensive End:

Current Roster: Janarius Robinson, Joshua Kaindoh, Jarrett Jackson, Dennis Briggs, Derrick McClendon, Curtis Fann, Josh Griffis, TJ Davis

Need for 2021 Class: 2

2021 Commitments: Joshua Farmer

2021 Targets: Shambre Jackson, Zyun Reeves, Quinten Somerville, Darrell Jackson, Savion Jones, Jabari Ishmael, Zaire Patterson, Jaharvie Ritzie, Aaron Armitage

There’s no question that FSU has the bodies this year and moving forward, but the production has been low over the past few years. Could that be coaching, scheme, and injury luck? Yes to all three. FSU loses two former 5-star prospects in Robinson and Kaindoh, two guys that are assumed to be the pass rushers on this defense. We feel that the Noles will need to add two ends this class with the focus on being able to get to the passer. There are 25 offers out so far, but only one target on that board is a top 100 recruit in Somerville. 

FSU has one commit in Joshua Farmer, and there is a belief they are in good shape for Shambre Jackson. If FSU is able to land three or four, they should take as many as possible.

Inside Linebacker:

Current Roster: Leonard Warner, Emmitt Rice, Cornel Jones, Jaleel McRae, Kevon Glenn, DJ Lundy

Need for 2021 Class: 1

2021 Commitments: Dequaveon Fuller

2021 Targets: Andrew Jones, Jaydon Hood, Deshawn Troutman

Warner and Rice will both graduate. Rice came on towards the end of the 2019 season and by all means, has had an excellent offseason. For all of the negatives of the previous staff Coach Woodie did a great job resetting the depth and talent at linebacker. FSU has some really good players here and good pieces for the future. 

FSU has one commitment in Fuller, but there is some smoke he may not be a part of this class due to fit and ability. FSU is in on two really, really good inside backers in Jones and Hood, so landing one of those two would be a major win for this staff. The ‘Noles are in a good position here after the 2020 season.

Outside Linebacker:

Current Roster: Amari Gainer, Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, Kalen Deloach, Stephen Dix, Jayion McCluster

Need for 2021 Class: 2

2021 Commitments: Branden Jennings

2021 Targets: Barrett Carter, Xavian Sorey, Clayton Smith, Dallas Turner, Ian Jackson, Patrick Payton, Chief Boarders, Dink Jackson

FSU is in an interesting position here. They’re extremely young and talented at outside linebacker, but they need to add depth. Lars-Woodbey is listed here but he is more of a subpackage linebacker who will be lining up all over the field. Gainer had an awesome freshman year and may also be a rush end for this defense at times. 

Looking at the offers that have gone out so far it looks like the coaching staff may share the same belief. They’ve offered quite a few targets, 13 so far, some being considered the nation’s best at their position. Getting Jennings in early was a big get for this staff. FSU is in a good spot for Dink Jackson – an athlete who may follow the path of Lars-Woodbey. We expect FSU to continue to evaluate this position and work on landing one of the so-called high hanging fruit in Carter, Sorey, or Smith.

Cornerback:

Current Roster: Carlos Becker, Asante Samuel Jr, Isaiah Bolden, Akeem Dent, Jarvis Brownlee, Travis Jay and Demorie Tate

Need for 2021 Class: 3

2021 Commitments: None

2021 Targets: Jason Marshall, Nyland Green, Omarion Cooper, Phillip Riley, Markevious Brown, Charles Brantley, Kamari Lassiter, Jordan Young, Kevin Knowles, Kameron Grays, and Jaden Floyd

We saw during the short time of spring practice that this current coaching staff sees current players at different positions, so there has been some shuffling going on. Renardo Green moved to safety while Becker moved to corner. It would not be a shock to see Samuel Jr move on if he has a good 2020 season. That leaves FSU talented but thin at corner moving forward.

Since coming over, Coach Woodson has been an offering machine and FSU currently has 24 offers out to corners in the 2021 class. That’s a lot of evaluating before spring and before recruits emerge during their senior campaign. There is also a “type” this staff likes which you can see from these offers. There may not be any leans at this time but there is no doubt FSU will hit their needs here. The tradition, on top of this coaching staff, will land what they need. Being able to get immediate contributors like Marshall would be huge for the 2021 season and moving forward.

Safety:

Current Roster: Cyrus Fagan, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Renardo Green, Raymond Woodie, Brendan Gant, and Jadarius Green-McKnight

Need for 2021 Class: 2

2021 Commitments: None

2021 Targets: Ahmari Harvey, Terrion Arnold, Deshawn Rucker, Corey Collier, Kendall Dennis, Derrick Edwards, Khari Gee, Zamon Ross, Jardin Gilbert

FSU will lose Nas, one of the best safeties in the nation, and Fagan, a starter, after the 2020 season. Moving Green to safety is interesting and it is a move we think will work out. Gant is a swiss army knife and will play multiple roles in this defense. Green-McKnight will be a starter and is one of the best hitters from the 2020 class.

FSU has 19 offers out already. This is a position that may wrap up pretty soon. Tallahassee alone has three of the best safeties in the country in Harvey, Arnold and Rucker. Dennis is a newer offer and is an elite player. FSU has done a ton of work on these three and they are among the leaders for each of them. There are a lot of options here for FSU and they’ve done a really good job as a staff identifying prospects and getting on them. We believe this staff will continue to evaluate and offer until they hit their needs. 

FSU needs to sign 12 defensive recruits in 2021. When combined with the offensive need,s look for the ‘Noles to sign a full class this cycle.


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