New head coach Willie Taggart could insert young blood into the lineup
National Signing Day ended with a bang for Florida State under first-year head coach Willie Taggart. On Feb. 7, the Seminoles landed five new commitments and signees to finish with 21 for the cycle and a top 15 class, according to just about every publication.
The next step for Taggart as he begins his tenure in Tallahassee will be developing that talent as well as the talent that is already there. With 21 newcomers, there are a few that could make an impact right away. Others are more long-term investments. Some will receive redshirts.
Below is a look at the five newcomers, including those previously redshirted, who stand to make the biggest impact for the Seminoles in 2018:
Khalan Laborn, RB
Once a five-star prospect, Laborn could find himself in a prominent role in his first-year head coach’s offense. The redshirt freshman from Virginia will be competing with last season’s top two rushers in Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers for carries, but Taggart has never been shy of using multiple backs.
Last season at Oregon, Taggart had three different backs carry the ball at least 88 times, including leading rusher Royce Freeman, who went for nearly 1,500 yards. Laborn has the potential to be a complete back for the Seminoles who could be utilized in a number of ways and is probably too talented to be kept off the field.
Tamorrion Terry, WR
With Auden Tate gone and George Campbell having battled injury throughout his career, the Seminoles will be looking for a big, physical receiver to get the ball to. That guy could be Terry, a redshirt freshman who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds.
A Georgia native, Terry came on the national radar late in the 2017 recruiting cycle. Terry was regarded as a largely raw prospect who specialized in using his size to stretch the field during his high school days. Taggart’s offense utilizes a lot of throws down the field in addition to a lot of jet sweep and receiver screens. Terry could be the perfect fit for the vertical throws in that system as well as a popular target for the 50/50 balls and in the red zone.
Warren Thompson, WR
Much like Terry, Thompson may be a candidate to fill the large void left behind with Auden Tate’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft. At 6-3 and 200 pounds, the true freshman has the potential to become a complete receiver for the Seminoles. In a new offense, Thompson isn’t really disadvantaged as far as experience is concerned when it comes to players with similar size and skill sets like Terry, Keith Gavin and George Campbell.
Thompson was recruited by Taggart while the new FSU head coach was still at Oregon. It’s possible that Taggart is more familiar with Thompson’s game and has given more thought as to how he’ll fit the offense than the receivers he’ll be inheriting.
Jaiden Woodbey, S
A long-time Ohio State commitment, Woodbey was one of the more interesting stories of the 2018 recruiting cycle. Less than a week after receiving an offer from Taggart and the Seminoles, the blue-chip safety and highest rated member of the class signed.
Woodbey is a tremendous talent with a college-ready body. Woodbey also happens to play a position that will be replacing Derwin James, Trey Marshall, Nate Andrews and Ermon Lane (although he reverted back to wide receiver late last season). Woodbey’s biggest competition looks to be a couple of sophomores in Hamsah Nasirildeen and Cyrus Fagan as well as veteran AJ Westbrook, but Woodbey may have the most upside and raw ability of any safety on the FSU roster.
Bailey Hockman, QB
A redshirt freshman left-hander from Georgia, Hockman may be the biggest wild card on the roster for Florida State. Most have assumed the starting quarterback role will come down to Deondre Francois and James Blackman, who have combined for 26 career starts, but Hockman’s skill set sort of combines the best of those two’s abilities.
The fact that all three are breaking into a new offense creates no clear advantage. It’s also been reported that Francois, who tore his patella tendon in last season’s opener, is unlikely to be at full strength for spring practice. It should be noted that Hockman was a more highly-rated prospect than Blackman and may be more mobile, creating more versatility to what Taggart can do with his offense.
(Top photo courtesy of seminoles.com)