By: Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
Florida State had a successful signing day last Wednesday, bringing in top talent from all around the East Coast. Though the Noles didn’t quite fill their quota on the offensive line, they did gain the signatures of some very talented recruits. New defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt, won ACC recruiter of the year with only one month of work on the job. His success in such a minimal amount of time should excite Seminole fans for the future when Pruitt and the new staff have an entire year to get after these young prospects.
The Seminoles return many of their important contributors from their 12-win campaign last season, but the influx of young talent will peak its head throughout the upcoming season. There are many talented signees that could immediately contribute to the reigning ACC champions immediately upon arrival. Look for these recruits to help the Seminole team next season:
- Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield (4-star WR)- Whitfield is a speedster who projects to line up at the slot receiver position for the Noles in the future. However, many expect Whitfield’s immediate contribution to be on special teams as a return specialist. After the poor execution from FSU’s punt returners last season, I expect him to take over this duty right away. Whitfield also doubles in track, where he has competed for state titles year after year. He is also the cousin of current track star and wide receiver, Marvin Bracy.
- DeMarcus Walker (4-star DE)- Pruitt is the sole reason that Jacksonville native, DeMarcus Walker, will be suiting up in Garnet and Gold next season. The Noles lost 3 of their best defensive ends, so the addition of Walker is crucial because of the lack of depth at this position. Walker has a college ready body and is reportedly weighing in the 260-270 pound range. He plays the run and pass equally well and should get plenty of reps early on, as he is an early enrollee and will be participating in spring ball.
- Ira Denson (4-star OG)- This road grading offensive guard punishes his opposition in every competition. With the offensive line extremely thin in terms of depth, I wouldn’t be surprised if Denson gets thrown into the fire early on if an injury happens to occur. Madison County has produced plenty of successful Noles in the past and I look for that trend to continue with Denson.
- Wilson Bell (3-star OT)- Much like Walker, landing Bell’s signature is entirely credited to Pruitt. With offensive line depth at a minimum, there is little doubt that Bell will be looked at to provide depth from day 1. Bell is an extremely athletic offensive tackle that I believe will be a steal for this class when the dust settles.
- Ryan Green (4-star RB)- Green is a freak athlete who also stars on the basketball court. Running back is a position that is decimated by injury yearly, so his addition was crucial to this class, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Mario Pender’s future. Green is lighting in a bottle and compares to Chris Thompson in his versatility as a receiver out of the backfield and with his homerun ability.
- Jalen Ramsey (5-star CB) and Marquez White (4-star CB)- Both of these stud cornerbacks are once again credited to Jeremy Pruitt. Ramsey sticks to receivers like glue and had a tremendous showing at the Army All-American Bowl, where he consistently shut down the top wide receivers in the country. White is an underrated recruit (even as a 4-star) with good length and cover skills. Both of these players fit the mold of the bigger, more physical style of cornerbacks that Alabama has excelled with under Nick Saban and Pruitt. They are long and play well in press coverage, with their biggest asset being their ability to help in run support. Along with football, Ramsey looks to compete in track at FSU, while White plans to walk-on to the basketball team.
- Matthew Thomas (5-star OLB)- This is Jimbo Fisher’s prized recruit because of the sour taste in his mouth after Thomas’ main recruiter, James Coley, bailed on Fisher so late in the process. Thomas plays very similar to current linebacker Telvin Smith, as they both have a slighter build, but fly around the ball causing big plays. With exceptional speed for a linebacker, Thomas looks like a missile on the field, constantly delivering gut-wrenching blows to opponents. His skill set was on display at the Under Amour All-American game, where he delivered the biggest hit of the game to go along with his interception. Expect to see plenty of Matthew Thomas on special teams right away, and with added weight in the offseason he could earn more meaningful playing time as the year progresses. With his rare athletic ability, he is the ideal linebacker to see the field on third down situations, where you must be able to defend the pass and the run well. Depending on how fast he picks up the defense, Thomas could see a solid amount of playing time in year one.
There are plenty of other recruits from this class that could crack into the line-up and see the field come fall, but these players are the most likely to contribute during their freshman year.