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FSU's 2021 Early Signing Period class addresses some needs, others left to be filled

Curt Weiler
Tallahassee Democrat

It was a busy opening day of the Early Signing Period for the Florida State football program.

The Seminoles have signed 16 recruits so far, leaving room for nine more players in their 2021 class between high school players, junior college players and transfers.

14 of FSU's 15 2021 existing commits were expected to sign this week. All 14 sent their National Letters of Intent to FSU by noon on Wednesday.

It's not a class that is up to FSU's recruiting standard historically -- currently 31st in the 247Sports class rankings -- but it's a class that addressed a number of the Seminoles' needs.

The biggest of these needs, defensive line help, came in the form of five defensive line signees.

"That's one of the true bright spots of this year's class up to this point is that defensive front. Guys that are versatile, all guys that provide pass-rush capabilities, that was a big focus for us. I think when you look at guys that can play on the edge, all five of them have played at the end position..." FSU coach Mike Norvell said.

"I think (they) addressed a major need that we had. Definitely excited about that group."

FSU has managed just 10 sacks in nine games this season. Only three of those have come from defensive ends, showing exactly how big the edge-rush need is.

For now, all five of the signees -- four-stars Shambre Jackson and Patrick Payton and three-stars Byron Turner Jr., George Wilson and Joshua Farmer -- are listed as defensive ends on FSU's Signing Day website.

However, Norvell and FSU defensive coordinator Adam Fuller indicated that Jackson and Farmer could become interior defensive linemen long-term.

"End guys like Shambre, Josh, they have the ability to be able to even bulk down in pass-rush situations as we continue to see those guys develop," Norvell said.

"Then there are true edge rushers as we seen with Patrick, the big get with George here today and Byron Turner. All three of those guys I think are true end prospects, big ceilings, great room for development here in their future."

Wilson was the lone new addition to FSU's 2021 class Wednesday. The Virginia Beach native and former South Carolina commit picked the Seminoles over other finalists Auburn and North Carolina.

"As were getting into his recruitment there at the beginning, I want to say about a week after was when he committed to South Carolina. I told him whenever he started to explore options that that was one of the toughest weeks that I've had because we were so excited about what he brought and then he had made a commitment," Norvell said.

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"We just tried to stay through the process, just really building that relationship with the family was something that was critical because we knew George is a young man that relationships are critical to him. We really had a great bond that was created and just so excited about what he's gonna bring and the potential that he has here at Florida State."

Early playing time a huge selling point

Norvell has made a point of mentioning that FSU's current roster, which is 75% underclassmen, is among the youngest in college football.

Because of this, it shouldn't come as a surprise that FSU recruiting coordinator/running backs coach David Johnson said Wednesday that early playing time was a major selling point as the FSU staff assembled its 2021 signing class.

Upon their arrivals at FSU either in January or over the summer, these newest Seminoles will know that they'll be given their fair shot at making instant impacts.

"These guys are competitors. They want to make an early impact, they also understand the competition that's going to be in front of them..." Norvell said.

Miami Northwestern outside linebacker/defensive end was a late addition to FSU's 2021 recruiting class, committing Dec. 7.

"They see how well they fit this program, the positions of need that we have, the opportunity that they have to be able to come in and make that type of impact. Like we told them, we're going to give them every opportunity to come and achieve early success. With their mindset, their approach, what they're going to bring to our football team, it's going to be fun watching that process play out. They're definitely gonna help elevate the competition in each room."

Holes left to fill

While FSU's early recruiting haul brought some critical depth on defense, the offensive line and an instant-impact quarterback transfer, Norvell knows FSU has holes left to fill.

The biggest remaining need is at wide receiver. The Seminoles added one wideout Wednesday in three-star Joshua Burrell from Blythewood, S.C., but are looking to add as many as three more wide receivers to their 2021 class, per Norvell.

Both Norvell and Johnson indicated that FSU may land a few more signatures this week during the Early Signing Period, but the rest of the work of closing out FSU's 2021 class will come in the weeks leading up to the final National Signing Day Feb. 3.

"We've got a couple more days in high school signing and even leading up to January when we start school, the potential opportunities of those things. And then we've got a couple things we're excited about for the February signing period as well that we're looking forward to," Norvell said.

"As we go through this process, it's still going to be about assessing the right fit. Offensive skill positions are something that we're still going to still gonna evaluate. We're excited about potential options there on the offensive line and a couple defense positions as well."

FSU's current 2021 signing class

Quarterback

UCF transfer McKenzie Milton - Mililani, Hawaii - 8,683 passing yards, 72 touchdowns over three years with the Knights

Running back

None

Wide receiver

Three-star Joshua Burrell - Blythewood High - Blythewood, S.C. - No. 513 overall recruit, No. 77 wide receiver

Tight end

Three-star Jackson West - Hunstville High - Huntsville, Ala. - No. 603 overall recruit, No. 27 tight end

Three-star Koby Gross - Diablo Valley College - Pleasant Hill, Calif. - No. 27 overall junior college recruit, No. 3 JUCO tight end

Offensive line

Four-star offensive tackle Rod Orr - Gadsden City High - Gadsden, Ala. - No. 309 overall recruit, No. 22 offensive tackle

Three-star center Bryson Estes - Eagles Landing Christian Academy - McDonough, Ga. - No. 574 overall recruit, No. 9 center

Defensive line

Four-star strong-side defensive end Shambre Jackson - Boone High - Orlando, Fla. - No. 279 overall recruit, No. 18 strong-side defensive end

Three-star weak-side defensive end George Wilson - Green Run High - Virginia Beach, Va. - No. 365 overall recruit, No. 24 weak-side defensive end

Three-star strong-side defensive end Byron Turner Jr. - St. Augustine High - New Orleans, La. - No. 409 overall recruit, No. 27 strong-side defensive end

Three-star strong-side defensive end Joshua Farmer - Gadsden County High - Havana, Fla. - No. 656 overall recruit, No. 40 strong-side defensive end

Linebacker

Four-star outside linebacker Patrick Payton - Northwestern High - Miami, Fla. - No. 328 overall recruit, No. 22 outside linebacker

Three-star outside linebacker Jordan Eubanks - Guyer High - Denton, Texas - No. 924 overall recruit, No. 57 outside linebacker

Three-star outside linebacker Shyheim Brown - Columbia High - Lake City, Fla. - No. 1,255 overall recruit, No. 84 outside linebacker

Defensive back

Four-star cornerback Hunter Washington - Katy High - Katy, Texas - No. 250 overall recruit, No. 19 cornerback

Four-star cornerback Omarion Cooper - Lehigh Senior High - Lehigh Acres, Fla. - No. 280 overall recruit, No. 22 cornerback

Three-star cornerback Kevin Knowles - McArthur High - Hollywood, Fla. - No. 586 overall recruit, No. 47 cornerback

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

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