Florida State suffered through a fourth straight losing season in 2021, but the Seminoles did close the campaign with a bit of momentum. After starting 0-4 for the first time since 1975, FSU bounced back to win five of its next seven games before falling to Florida in the season finale.
After a 5-7 season, the Seminoles were busy adding new faces. FSU's top-25 recruiting class is encouraging, but it also did a nice job of addressing needs via the transfer portal. It may be the biggest selling point for head coach Mike Norvell and staff.
For FSU to take the next step and return to bowl eligibility, it will need production from some new faces. Here are five newcomers to watch:
Tatum Bethune, LB
Amari Gainer and DJ Lundy had solid seasons for Florida State in 2021, but the linebacking corps has not been a strength since perhaps the national championship season of 2013. Bethune comes over from UCF with a wealth of experience. A native of Miami, Bethune tallied more than 100 tackles last season with two sacks, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. Bethune is a speedy linebacker who also is good in coverage. His skill set should coincide nicely with Gainer, who excels as a pass rusher, and Lundy, who is best against the run.
AJ Duffy, QB
A high school All-American quarterback, Duffy is the highest-ranked signal-caller to sign with the Seminoles since Malik Henry in 2016. By all accounts, Jordan Travis will again be the starter for FSU. Travis provided an enormous spark last season but has struggled to stay healthy. Since becoming the starter midway through the 2020 season, Travis has missed multiple starts to injury or illness. Tate Rodemaker is the only other scholarship quarterback on the roster, so Duffy could see meaningful time this season.
Kayden Lyles, OL
Florida State has patched together its offensive line with key additions from the transfer portal. Devontay Love-Taylor and Dillan Gibbons were each important pieces to the offensive front and FSU expects that Lyles will make a similar impact. A transfer from Wisconsin, Lyles has 15 starts to his name and has spent time on both the defensive and offensive lines. Lyles was on the preseason Rimington Trophy watch list last season before a season-ending injury. Lyles has played both guard and center in his career but is expected to man the middle for the Seminoles.
Sam McCall, S
A top-50 recruit nationally and the best player in FSU's 2022 high school class, McCall is enrolling early and is expected to compete for time right away. At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, McCall will likely still fill out a bit. As for his position, Jammie Robinson will hold down one of the safety spots, but there are a lot of reps to be had opposite him. McCall is a physical talent who does a lot of things well, so FSU could use him in a variety of ways.
Jared Verse, DE
Last season, two of FSU's best addition were defensive line transfers in Jermaine Johnson II and Keir Thomas. This season, Verse, who played at FCS Albany last season, will be tasked with filling those voids. Johnson and Thomas combined for 18.5 sacks and 30 tackles for a loss last season. Verse is physically impressive (6-4, 250) and has a high motor. He posted 9.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for the Great Danes in 2021 and has a very good chance to be the Seminoles' best pass rusher this fall.
— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.