With most of the National Letters of Intent signed and sent, National Signing Day has been wrapped up, and now it’s time to grade the FSU football recruiting class for 2017.
While Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles didn’t make it into the College Football Playoff this past season, he and his staff did everything possible to set themselves up for the next few years.
Florida State easily had one of the best hauls on National Signing Day, and it reflected in the ACC recruiting class rankings. The biggest addition — both figuratively and literally — came at the end of the day when the ‘Noles landed a commitment from 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.
But there were more recruiting wins for FSU along the way, so let’s give grades for the FSU football recruiting class.
The ‘Noles have their guy in Deondre Francois. That’s clear. But, in terms of FSU football’s recruiting class for 2017, they added a couple of arms to the mix, and both will surely compete for the job when Francois decides to leave Tallahassee. Four-star prospect Bailey Hockman has the intangibles and the arm strength to catapult him up the depth chart early on, but he isn’t alone. Florida State also brought in 3-star recruit James Blackman. More importantly, they kept the dual-threat quarterback away from Florida, who was trying to flip him.
Running Back: A+
It doesn’t get any better than what Jay Graham did for the Seminoles in this class. They picked up 4-star running back Zaquandre White earlier in the process, and that was a solid addition. Then, this past summer at The Opening, Four-star tailback Khalan Laborn rolled up in a Lamborghini and committed to this FSU football recruiting class. That was an even bigger pick-up. And right when you think Graham can’t top himself, he goes out and gets Cam Akers, a 5-star prospect and easily a future Heisman Trophy contender. With Dalvin Cook headed to the NFL, the ‘Noles will have a three-headed monster walking in to help ease the transition.
Wide Receiver: B+
So, a lot of the attention for this batch of wide receivers in the 2017 class has been focused on guys like Donovan Peoples-Jones, Trevon Grimes or DeVonta Smith. But FSU came away with two quality additions in 4-star wide receivers D.J. Matthews and Tamorrion Terry. Matthews is one of the best route runners in the class, and he’ll quickly develop into a go-to target. The only reason this grade isn’t higher is because FSU failed to capitalize on Billy Napier’s departure from Alabama, as the Crimson Tide landed both Smith and Henry Ruggs III, whom the Seminoles were targeting.
Tight End: C+
FSU ended up signing two tight ends in this class, and while both weren’t off the charts this past season, they have high ceilings. The ‘Noles ended up flipping Tre McKitty from Oregon in the wake of Mark Helfrich’s firing, so that was a nice get. But it was made even nicer by the fact McKitty is out of the IMG Academy, so that pipeline was strengthened.
Fisher’s staff also went up into Andover, New Hampshire to land 3-star recruit Alexander Marshall. He’s a bit raw as a pass catcher, but there’s a natural ability that jumps off the film. He’s 6-foot-7, 242 lbs and will be a match-up nightmare.
Offensive Line: C-
The key here is the fact Florida State already has a lot of young, talented offensive linemen on its roster. So, it wasn’t exactly a need as far as this class was concerned. However, it did go out and land 3-star offensive tackle Brady Scott, out of Marietta, Georgia. The offensive line gets a new face, and FSU keeps its footprint in the Peach State.
Defensive Line: A+
It’s extremely difficult to believe the capabilities of Odell Haggins. The man is practically a mythological being because his defensive line signings have been nothing short of legendary. Getting Wilson into the class was easily the biggest addition on National Signing Day. He’ll start on Day 1 for the Seminoles, and not one person on this Earth can say differently. Wilson is the player in the 2017 class most likely to end up as a top-1o NFL Draft pick. He’s essentially a hybrid of Warren Sapp and Gerald McCoy.
But when you take a look at the other guys Haggins landed, it’s insane to think of the defensive linemen FSU will be churning out in the next few years. The ‘Noles picked up 5-star defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, 4-star defensive tackle Cory Durden, 4-star defensive tackle Ja’len Parks and 3-star defensive end Tre Lawson. The defensive line for this FSU football recruiting class is just incredible.
Getting 4-star outside linebacker Leonard Warner was a huge move for two reasons. Clearly, FSU needed to add an outside linebacker. That’s a given. The other is the fact the Seminoles went into Kirby Smart’s backyard and beat him for Warner’s commitment.
Outside of him, there were other quality additions to the linebacking corps. Getting Adonis Thomas as a JUCO transfer was important because it adds experience and maturity to the group. One of the more undervalued signees has to be DeCalon Brooks, though. He’s the son of Derrick Brooks, and he gets after the quarterback like his dad did. He could turn into a quality threat off the edge for Florida State.
Defensive Backs: A
This grade was another easy one to hand out. Getting Stanford Samuels III in the class was a momentous pick-up. His dad was a ‘Nole. It was only right that he donned the garnet and gold, too. He’ll be lining up opposite Levonta Taylor, and ACC quarterbacks will have to pick their poison. Four-star safety Cyrus Fagan will help strengthen the safeties, too. The Seminoles did lose out on 4-star safety Daniel Wright, brother of former Florida Gators Major Wright, when he flipped to Alabama. But FSU turned around and flipped 4-star safety Hamsah Nasirildeen from South Carolina, so it all worked out.
FSU Football Recruiting Class Overall Grade: A
Note: Scout rankings and ratings used in this article.