The big news out of Tallahassee the following the day was the announcement of Willie Taggart getting the axe from FSU officials. Taggart signed a five-year contract in 2018 and was unable to make it through two seasons, finishing with a 9-12 record as head coach. His tenure was marred by a lot of criticism, as the team failed to qualify for a bowl game in 2018, breaking a 36-year streak. Despite the hiring of innovative offensive coordinator Art Briles, there was not much improvement this season, as the team was still struggling and it looked like the Seminoles would once again be clinging on for bowl eligibility. It was announced that DL coach Odell Haggins would serve as the interim head coach.
The timing of the firing of Taggart could not have come at a worse time from a recruiting perspective (okay maybe there could’ve been worse times but it’s still pretty bad.) When a high school football player commits to a program, a lot of it has to do with the head coach, who embodies the the culture of the team and each recruit understands that not only will the coach make me better as a football player, but also as a man. They also sign on the dotted line expecting that whatever head coach they choose to play for will be staying for the following 3-5 years.
Obviously that’s not happening with Taggart, but a good number of recruits who had previously given FSU a non-binding verbal commitment will now be re-opening their recruitment. This is crucial for the class of 2020 recruits especially because early signing day is in the middle of next month, which gives the team only a month to not only try and reassure their commitments and recruits about the state of the program, but also to form new relationships with new recruits should their current commitments close the door on the Seminoles.
There’s already been three class of 2020 de-commitments in the past three days: three-star safety Derek Bermudez from Jacksonville, four-star running back Jaylan Knighton from Deerfield Beach, and four-star cornerback Isaiah Dunson from Tucker, GA. LB Jayion McCluster, who is actually the teammate of current Canes commit LB AJ Mathis, is still committed but has said on Twitter that he is keeping his options open, much like some of the other FSU commitments.
It is being reported that Bermudez is hoping for contact with Miami coaches while Knighton was high on the Canes before committing to FSU in back in July. Knighton was FSU’s highest-ranked offensive recruit in this upcoming class and it’s still very possible that Miami could try and find a way to reignite his love for Miami in order to pair him with current five-star running back commit Don Chaney.
Right now, this is a huge mess, as despite their 4-5 record this season, the Seminoles were looking at a top-10 recruiting class before Taggart’s removal. It really seems as if this is a huge shift in recruiting momentum for both Miami and Florida State, although it is upwards for the former and downwards for the latter.
Canes Recruiting Updates
- This Saturday’s matchup versus Louisville is not only the homecoming game for Miami, but it is also a huge recruiting event for Miami. As of right now, the big fish taking an official visit this weekend is the top-ranked linebacker Justin Flowe. Flowe hails from the other side of the country in Upland, CA and has remained tight-lipped about his recruitment so far, only noting that he has a top 4 of Miami, Clemson, Georgia, and Oregon in no particular order. Flowe finished his junior season with 145 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and five sacks and is sure to be a game-changer for any program he chooses, especially for the Canes as they try to find a way to replace the likes of Shaw Quarterman and Mike Pinckney next season.
- Former FSU commitment and Champagnat Catholic (Hialeah, FL) safety Jalen Harrell will also take an official visit to Miami this weekend. Harrell de-committed from Seminoles on October 15th and is currently ranked as the 23rd best safety in the country by 247Sports.