If you’ve listened to coaches talk long enough, you’ve heard the phrase that “games are won and lost in the trenches.” If Mike Norvell’s third recruiting class is any indication, Florida State’s head coach certainly believes that is the case. FSU signed 15 high school prospects on Wednesday with five of those scholarships being allocated to the offensive linemen.
The Seminoles landed offensive tackle prospects Julian Armella, Qae’shon Sapp and Daughtry Richardson along with guard prospects Kanaya Charlton and Jaylen Early on the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period.
But Norvell and newly minted offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Alex Atkins aren’t done yet. Offensive tackle prospect Anatavious Woody is committed to FSU and is expected to sign his letter of intent in February. Norvell also has commitments from a couple of linemen in the transfer portal, offensive tackle Bless Harris (Lamar) and center/guard Kayden Lyles (Wisconsin), who are expected to enroll at FSU in the spring and to provide immediate help for the 2022 season.
If all goes as planned the Seminoles will have eight new scholarship offensive linemen in the fall. With just 10 scholarship linemen projected to return from last season’s team, Norvell and Atkins needed to upgrade the offensive line for both the short-term and long-term. And, so far, they have done both and it would not be at all surprising if they added another offensive lineman or two out of the portal between now and the start of fall camp.
Of the five offensive linemen who signed with FSU on Friday only Charlton is expected to enroll in January. Charlton, a three-star prospect from Brunswick (Ga.) High had been committed to FSU since this summer.
“When you look at the guys that were able to be able to get in, guys like Kanaya Charlton, who was an early commitment that’s 6-5, 350 pounds that came here and had an opportunity to work with our staff there in the summer. Love what he brings to the table,” began Norvell when speaking about the newest members of FSU’s offensive line on Wednesday afternoon.
Norvell and Atkins like the versatility they saw in Miami (Fla.) Central product Daughtry Richardson.
“You see Daughtry Richardson, another 6-5, 285-pound guy that’s a swing guy,” said Norvell of the three-star prospect from Miami (FL) Central High School. “He can play tackle. Played most of the senior year there at guard. Really excited about what he brings to our offensive line group of his athleticism.”
Sapp is projected to be a tackle once he arrives on campus and his potential matches his size.
“Qae’shon Sapp, here from Lee County, Ga., just a massive man,” said Norvell. “A guy that plays the game the way that you need the game to be played. He’s been a real leader in this class just with his passion and energy. What this class can bring to Florida State and the opportunities that are that are ahead for us.
Another signee who played multiple positions on the offensive line during his high school is four-star prosect Jaylen Early from Duncanville (TX) High School.
“And then Jaylen Early from Dallas, Texas, a young man who was highly sought after,” said Norvell. “To be able to get a young man of his talent here to Tallahassee was an incredible feat. I thought coach (Alex) Atkins did a wonderful job. Really like seeing that core group as we kick started it here today. See those guys as wonderful additions to our program.”
Last but certainly not least was the signing of four-star offensive tackle and FSU legacy Julian Armella from Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas High School. The son of former FSU defensive lineman Enzo Armella waited until late Wednesday night before signing his paperwork. Armella, who is 6-6 and 295-pounds, might have the best opportunity of any of the high school signees to play as a true freshman.
“Julian is probably the most talented lineman FSU has signed in the last decade,” Osceola recruiting analyst Charles Fishbein said. “Very good athlete. He can move laterally really well. Very good feet for a big kid. He has a bit of a mean streak. Like the way he fires off the ball. Plays with good balance and leverage.”
While Atkins didn’t address each signee individually, he is very excited about the potential of the group he has put together as a whole.
“The first thing is quality, character, the type of men we’re bringing in that room,” said Atkins on Wednesday. “That was the number one target I look for in all the guys we were recruiting. We needed to bring in some young men that had like minds, like attainments and wanted to accomplish a goal together. All of those guys displayed that. They all were on really good high school football teams, a lot of them played deep into the playoffs, all of them were the leaders of their teams. … Of course, they’re big, strong, they can move, all of that good stuff that is necessary to play at this high-level football.”
Scholarship Offensive Lineman Projected to return in 2022:
Offensive tackles: Robert Scott, Lloyd Willis, Darius Washington, Rod Orr
Offensive guards: Dillan Gibbons, Brady Scott, Zane Herring, Bryson Esters
Centers: Maurice Smith, Thomas Shrader
Newcomers to the Offensive Line for Spring 2022:
Guard: Kanaya Charlton (Early Enrollee)
Center: Kayden Lyles (Wisconsin, Committed)
Tackle: Bless Harris (Lamar, Committed)
Newcomers to the Offensive Line for Summer 2022:
Signed: Julian Armella, Daughtry Richardson, Qae’shon Sapp, Jaylen Early
Committed: Anatavious Woody