Willie Taggart, new FSU staff make up ground on recruiting

Feb 02, 2018
New Florida State coach Willie Taggart has been busy recruiting since being hired by the Seminoles. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser, File)

Willie Taggart has done nothing but recruit in his nearly two months as Florida State’s football coach. The early results have been positive.

The Seminoles landed just seven prospects during the December signing period, but the efforts by Taggart and his staff have resulted in five more verbal commitments in recent weeks. The last week has been fruitful, with commitments from a trio of four-stars: receiver Warren Thompson, linebacker Xavier Peters and defensive tackle Dennis Briggs.

FSU has 15 commitments going into Wednesday’s National Signing Day. That includes three early enrollees — safety Jaiden Woodbey, linebacker Amari Gainer and offensive tackle Christian Armstrong — as well as four more who signed in December and will enroll in the summer.

The Seminoles have the No. 15 class, according to 247Sports’ rankings, which is third among ACC teams to No. 5 Miami and No. 8 Clemson. Of the 15 commitments, 11 are four-stars. This won’t be a large class but it still should be impactful as Taggart begins his first season at FSU.

“It’s great that so many young men out there want to be here and find the right fit and the right guys for who we want to be as a football program,” Taggart said.

The latest commitment is from Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver from Seffner Armwood. Thompson runs fluid routes, adjusts to the ball well and can go vertical to grab passes at the high point. He could bring immediate help at a position where FSU has suffered losses, notably junior Auden Tate’s decision to enter the NFL draft. The Seminoles return just four receivers who have caught a college pass, plus will have redshirt freshman Tamorrion Terry and three-star commitment D’Marcus Adams.

FSU has also landed a commitment from Peters, who is considered a top outside linebacker prospect and could help at a position where the Seminoles lost three seniors. Briggs is ranked the No. 25 defensive tackle and has a high motor along with pass-rush skills that could place him on the interior of the defensive line or at end.

Tight end Camren McDonald, a California prospect who committed last month, is also an athletic, versatile 6-foot-5 tight end who uses his size well to leverage position against defensive backs.

FSU is looking to close with a few more undecided players. The Seminoles are tentatively hosting a group of eight prospects this weekend, according to Noles247. Among those are four-star dual-threat quarterback James Foster from Montgomery (Ala.) Lanier.

A few prospects will be announcing Wednesday. Four-star defensive end Andrew Chatfield of Plantation-American Heritage will sign in the 10 a.m. hour on Wednesday on ESPNU. Chatfield is deciding between Miami, FSU and Florida.

Jacob Copeland, a four-star receiver, will announce in the 2 p.m. hour on ESPN2. The Pensacola Escambia prospect is deciding between Florida, Alabama, FSU and Tennessee.

While FSU has not announced its 2018 spring roster, a few more scholarships appear to be opening up, too. Four reserves — quarterback JJ Cosentino, defensive tackle Darvin Taylor, guard David Robbins and tackle Ethan Frith — won’t be with the team this spring, according to a report by Tomahawk Nation.

But Taggart said in December he’s not going to sign players just to hit the scholarship limit of 85.

“We’ve got to make sure we get the right guys and not just fill in the class just to fill it,” Taggart said. “That’s not going to help our football program going forward.”