Florida State's signing class impresses but some items still on Christmas list | Weiler

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While the Florida State football team has been the least successful of the big Florida programs of late, you wouldn't know it from the recruiting rankings.

The Seminoles' 2022 class is well regarded nationally in spite of the fact that they are coming off their fourth consecutive losing season. The class ranks 13th nationally and second-best in the ACC.

Yes, there were a few key misses during the early signing period and one huge loss -- more on that in a second -- but the FSU coaching staff did remarkably well, especially considering the state of FSU's on-field results.

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The FSU coaches sold their vision well enough that the Seminoles' incoming class currently ranks above Clemson (17th), LSU (19th), Miami (49th) and Florida's (51st) classes.

The Travis Hunter shocker does put a bit of a damper on the celebration surrounding what will be FSU's best class since the 2018 recruiting cycle. If Hunter had remained in the class, the Seminoles' signing class would currently rank 10th.

Instead, FSU was forced to watch as its prized No. 1 recruit who had been committed for nearly two years and was going to make an instant impact on both sides of the ball flipped to Jackson State, an unprecedented move in college football recruiting history.

Ire from the fanbase has been directed a number of ways in the days since this played out. It makes sense why some would feel head coach Mike Norvell would be the main target of a lot of this, but it remains unclear as to what he could have done differently.

There was no buzz whatsoever about the possibility of this move from Hunter. And once the reports started breaking, it was already too late.

For Hunter, this wasn't about not believing in FSU's trajectory as a program. If that was the case, he would have probably flipped to Georgia or a similarly dominant program.

While Hunter's decision is the type of moment that will definitely lead to rival fans throwing barbs at the Seminoles for the foreseeable future, it doesn't diminish what Norvell and his staff accomplished this cycle.

Even with the departure of Hunter, the Seminoles added a pair of blue-chip defensive backs. They also did extremely well to address their offensive line need, adding five high-school signees up front.

The Seminoles' 2022 recruiting class ranks as the 13th best in the country, by far the best among the Florida schools.
The Seminoles' 2022 recruiting class ranks as the 13th best in the country, by far the best among the Florida schools.

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Three of those five, four-stars Julian Armella, Jaylen Early and Qae'shon Sapp, are blue-chip prospects. That's as many blue-chip offensive linemen as the Seminoles signed in their previous five recruiting classes combined.

FSU also signed four-star quarterback AJ Duffy, the highest-rated quarterback the Seminoles have landed since Malik Henry in their 2016 class.

However, there are definitely still quite a few needs the Seminoles have that haven't yet been addressed in this year's class.

This past season was the second straight year where the Seminoles went without a 400-yard wide receiver. FSU is in desperate need of a game-breaking, play-making wideout and doesn't have any high-school wide receivers signed in this class.

The one commit at the position FSU had, Fort Lauderdale Dillard four-star Devaughn Mortimer, flipped to Louisville during the early signing period.

FSU may still land St. Louis (Mo.) five-star wideout Kevin Coleman, who is set to announce his decision at the All-American Bowl early next month. If it misses out on him to Miami, it's quite possible the Seminoles will not sign a single high-school wide receiver in this year's class.

They did curb those misses a bit by adding Oregon wide receiver transfer Mycah Pittman -- who is also a strong punt returner -- but will need to add more to help make up the deficit out wide.

Additionally, FSU has landed a signature from just one defensive end in this year's class. Considering the Seminoles are losing a pair of starters who had extremely productive seasons at defensive end, they are in need of more than only one addition at the position.

They took big swings at the likes of five-star FSU legacy Marvin Jones Jr. and four-star former commit Nyjalik Kelly, but came up empty of a splash addition.

At linebacker, FSU landed one signee in Omar Graham Jr. when it probably needed more to bolster the depth in that room.

Niceville four-star defensive back Azareyeh Thomas was one of FSU's big early signing period additions.
Niceville four-star defensive back Azareyeh Thomas was one of FSU's big early signing period additions.

Now, the FSU coaches will be forced to dive into the transfer portal perhaps a bit harder than they wanted to this offseason.

We've seen how kind the portal can be to FSU, but we've also seen portal additions struggle to make an impact.

Reflecting back now, FSU got quite the pleasant late Christmas present last year when Georgia defensive end Jermaine Johnson committed to the Seminoles on Dec. 26.

Norvell and his staff have to hope they land a similarly impressive haul this holiday season or they risk being left out in the cold long-term.

Reach Curt Weiler at cweiler@tallahassee.com or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Weiler: Florida State football signing class impressive despite on-field results

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