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Projecting future success for the Seminoles’ 2018 recruiting class
Now that the book has closed on Florida State’s 2018 recruiting class, the time has come to project how this crop of the 21 newest Seminoles will help coach Willie Taggart revitalize the program.
The Seminoles’ fan base should be largely brimming with excitement considering the talent Taggart & Co. closed out the cycle. The former Oregon coach had only two months to recruit after he took over for Jimbo Fisher.
But how will this class take shape on the field?
With needs at positions such as receiver and defensive end, there are chances that we will see a handful of members of the 2018 class making plays for the Seminoles this fall.
But we’re going to have a little fun with the class and project some accomplishments … in the far future.
— Jalen Goss ひ (@Almighty__jayy4) February 9, 2018
Most likely to become an All-American: Asante Samuel Jr.
Florida State has built a strong case through the years to be known as “DBU.”
A handful of rising defensive backs such as junior corner Levonta Taylor, sophomore corner Stanford Samuels III and sophomore safety Hamsah Nasirildeen are entrusted to make sure that tradition continues in the immediate future.
But in the 2018 class, the Seminoles brought in four touted defensive backs — three of them top-100 overall recruits in the 247Sports composite.
So, it’s only right that we tab a player from that group to be a future All-American. Our pick here is Asante Samuel Jr., who could make a great option to plug in for Taylor when his college career is over.
— Orlando Sentinel-FSU (@osfsu) February 7, 2018
As a senior, Samuel recorded 32 tackles with an interception while blocking 2 field goals and 2 extra-point attempts. The interception total was low as teams largely avoided throwing his way.
The Under Armour All-American plays with a fire and tenacity that is reminiscent of former Seminoles star and current Jaguars Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Those are just a few reasons why he makes sense to carry on the tradition of excellence in the Seminoles’ secondary.
Most likely to score first touchdown: Tre’Shaun Harrison
Florida State doesn’t hit the state of Washington often to offer players, much less land them. But in Tre’Shaun Harrison, Taggart landed a priority recruit in class desperate for talent and depth at the receiver position.
Harrison is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound playmaker who runs a reported time of 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He was also the first player offered when Taggart took the Florida State job.
On paper, he’s a perfect fit to plug into the offense and create explosive plays. He’s big enough to possess the type of physicality needed to adjust to the college level, but he’s got the type of explosiveness to take short passes or bubble screens the distance and the speed to beat defenses deep on longer routes.
With that type of versatility, he makes sense as the choice to be first member of the class to find the end zone as a Seminole.
Most likely to become a top-10 NFL draft pick: Jaiden Woodbey
Continuing along with the DBU theme, a reason the Seminoles were even able to recruit safety Jaiden Woodbey so late is because of that reputation for molding elite defensive backs.
The Seminoles enter 2018 having to replace a freakish, do-it-all defensive back in Derwin James — who left school early for the NFL draft. In the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Woodbey, they have a player who possesses a similar physical makeup to James.
While he might not possess James’ athleticism, Woodbey is no slouch in that regard. He had 127 tackles and 6 interceptions his final two seasons at California prep powerhouse St. John Bosco.
— ⚡️THOR ⚡️ (@JaidenWoodbey) February 8, 2018
He has type of size and range to be an eraser in the secondary. With the huge role safeties play in new defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett’s scheme, it also means that a player such as Woodbey will have a chance to showcase his array of talents within the scheme if he continues to develop.
Taking his size, abilities and the way he factors into the future of the defense into consideration, Woodbey has all the makings of a high draft choice if he reaches his potential on the college level.
Most likely to transition to a new position: Xavier Peters
The Seminoles already announced that Chaz Neal, who played defensive end in high school, will play on the offensive line in Tallahassee.
So taking Neal out of the equation, I’m going with linebacker Xavier Peters. A little-known fact about the 6-foot-4, 225-pound defender is that he played wide receiver until his sophomore season before switching to defense going into his junior season.
— xavier peters (@xavierpeters22) February 3, 2018
Barnett and the rest of the Seminoles staff could have a bit of a conundrum with Peters if he continues to grow and fill out his frame. In that case, a full-time move back to defensive end may not be out of the equation.
As a senior, Peters recorded 78 tackles with 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Those numbers highlight his ability to wreak havoc as a pass rusher.
With his size, length and athleticism, Peters could bring a different skill set to a defensive end unit that was also in need of a talent infusion.
Most likely to exceed recruiting ranking: Jalen Goss
This one was a tough call. The low-hanging fruit here could have been to take the lowest-rated member of the class in receiver Keyshawn Helton, who was a late addition to the class and could be classified as a hidden gem.
Instead, I’ll take a player who might have the highest upside in conjunction with his ranking in tackle Jalen Goss.
At 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, it’s likely that Goss will need a year or two to physically mature at the college level.
— Jalen Goss ひ (@Almighty__jayy4) February 7, 2018
While offensive lineman are probably the toughest players to project in terms of development and how they will adapt to the college level, Goss seems to have a lot of traits that can help him become a starter for the Seminoles at some point in his career.
He’s got the type of size and athleticism that elite tackles possess. He likely needs to add size and muscle to his frame, but his body is suited for that transition. He has good footwork and balance, but he also has room to grow with his technique.
New Seminoles offensive line coach Greg Frey has done well with developing offensive linemen over the course of his career, and Goss has the type of traits to thrive under his new coach’s tutelage if he continues to develop.
Most likely to earn “freak” label: Robert Cooper
Another tough category that came down to a few players. I’m going to cheat a little bit and give it to a player who was widely considered a freak on the prep level in defensive tackle Robert Cooper.
It’s safe to say the 6-foot-2, 365-pound recruit from Georgia has earned that moniker, as well as his other nickname: The Trench Monster.
In the last two seasons combined, Cooper recorded 96 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss with 6 sacks and 6 quarterback hurries.
— Tim Linafelt / FSU (@Tim_Linafelt) February 7, 2018
Cooper was also a dominant force during practices at the Under Armour All-America Game. His size and strength are traits that catch immediate attention, but his agility and athleticism at his size are what makes him a potentially special player in college.
Under the tutelage of long-time Seminoles defensive line coach Odell Haggins, Cooper has a chance to become a dominant force.
Most likely to become team captain: Amari Gainer
It’s fitting that a transition class for the Seminoles had an anchor in linebacker Amari Gainer.
The Tallahassee native was the glue for the class as it endured its share of ups and downs through the coaching change from Fisher to Taggart.
His father, Herb, was a standout receiver for the Seminoles in the 1980s and his mother, Blond, also graduated from Florida State.
On Amari Gainer: “He’s a legacy kid. He’s right here in town. He’s a kid that really loves Florida State and done a great job trying to establish the recruiting class. You can see the glow in his eyes when talking about Florida State.”
— Alison Posey (@AlisonPosey14) December 21, 2017
When it comes to taking pride in being on the Seminoles, no player in the class exemplifies what that means more than Gainer.
He’s already on campus as one of three early enrollees and he showed his leadership skills throughout the recruiting cycle as the Seminoles’ most active and vocal player recruiter.
Those traits are likely to carry over now that he’s fulfilled his childhood dream of playing for Florida State.
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