TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Throughout Florida State’s football history, there has every few years been signing classes that marked turning points for the program.
Think maybe the 1985 class (Deion Sanders, Odell Haggins and Sammie Smith) that kicked off Bobby Bowden’s FSU dynasty. Or the 1993 group (Warrick Dunn, Peter Boulware, Reinard Wilson) that helped spark a national title. Or the 2010 batch(Lamarcus Joyner, Telvin Smith) that put FSU on the upswing under Jimbo Fisher.
Florida State defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett believes the Seminoles could have another such class in 2019.
Because not only did the Seminoles load up with talented players in some areas of need, but they also added players who fit the mold of what head coach Willie Taggart is trying to build in Tallahassee.
So said Barnett and the rest of Florida State’s coaches at FSU’s annual National Signing Day party on Wednesday evening.
As of then, the Seminoles had inked 21 players, while still in pursuit of a few more targets.
“They are culture changers,” Barnett said. “And when you look back in time, over the next few years, you’re going to point to this class and say, ‘That was the class.’”
As part of the signing day party, Barnett and the rest of Taggart’s assistants offered a detail, player-by-player breakdown of the newest Noles. Here’s what they had to say, starting with the offense. (Defense and special teams to follow.)
OL Darius Washington; 6-4, 285; Pensacola, Fla.
FSU offensive coordinator Kendal Briles on Washington: “Big-time playmaker. We feel like he has a really, really high ceiling. This is a guy right here that finishes blocks. … He’s got the mentality you want at the offensive line position. That’s a thing you really look at with these guys (linemen). He’s mean. He’s smart.”
WR Maurice Goolsby; 6-4, 190; Dunnellon, Fla.
FSU receivers coach Ron Dugans on Goolsby: “Really good football player. Strong in perimeter blocking. Really good hands. Not only does he do a good job on the football field, he’s excelled also in baseball and basketball. … We’re excited to have him, he’s excited to be a Nole and we can’t wait to get him here.”
OL Dontae Lucas; 6-3, 223; Miami, Fla.
FSU tight ends coach Telly Lockette on Lucas: “Great people-mover. Big, healthy guy. Very physical. He loves to finish blocks. … He loves to finish and, I kind of kid him sometimes when I want to make him mad. I tell him, ‘You’re not better than your brother.’ Because I coached his brother (former West Virginia lineman Marquis Lucas) at Miami Central.
OL Maurice Smith; 6-2, 287; Miami, Fla.
FSU running backs coach Donte’ Pimpleton on Smith: “Can play any position on the line – from center to guard to tackle. Competitive guy, comes from a winning program. Coach Taggart preaches on competition, winning and (Smith) has a state championship. Can’t ever have too many of those guys on your team when you’re trying to turn around a program.”
OL Jay Williams; 6-6, 290; Moreno Valley, Calif.
FSU assistant David Kelly on Williams: “This young man started out as a skill position player on offense. And those are the type of athletic offensive linemen that you’re looking for. He moved to the defensive side of the ball and then he finally figured out, ‘I can probably play this game a long time moving back on offense.’
“They moved him on offense, moved him to the offensive line and then his future has just exploded in that regard.”
OL Ira Henry III; 6-5, 298; Florissant, Mo.
Kelly on Henry: “Extremely excited to get him. Very highly recruited. We’re looking for great things form Ira as we move forward in the football program. Strong, intense recruiting battle. Ended up going down to about 1 or 1:30 pm today, and we were very fortunate that it went our way.”