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Signing Day preview: FSU, state schools look to wrap up 2022 classes

National Signing Day has always been the first Wednesday in February. With early NSD and the Transfer Portal, NSD in February is anti-climactic.

Florida State, Miami, Florida, UCF and USF will all have their classes pretty much completed by Wednesday evening. Each fan base will be able to brag about their class being among the best in the nation. While each team took different routes to sign their classes each will try and fill every need they had going into NSD. We will break down each class and tell you if they hit their marks. 

Florida State

Florida State went into the 2022 class having major needs at quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line and linebacker. The 2022 class fell short during the early signing day but with the transfer portal will have filled some of those needs come Wednesday when the Seminoles are expected to announce just one high school signee, Anatvious Wilson, along with 10 transfer players to push the Seminoles to their scholarship cap of 85.

The most important recruit was AJ Duffy. The talented signal caller is the best quarterback prospect FSU has signed since Jameis Winston put pen to paper and ended up in Tallahassee. He has all the physical tools to be very good. He can make all the throws. The next most important need in the class was the offensive line. When you include the transfer portal FSU had one of the best classes in the nation. The headliner of the group was offensive tackle Julian Armella. He has the size and athletic ability to not only play tackle but be a very good guard as well. He will be joined by Daughtry Richardson (Miami Edison), Kanaya Charlton (Brunswick, Ga.), Jaylen Early (Duncanville, Texas) and Qae’shon Sapp (Leesburg, Ga.). Out of the portal FSU signed offensive linemen Kayden Lyles from Wisconsin and Bless Harris out of Lamar. The final signee is expected on Wednesday with another high school offensive lineman. Antavious Woody. joining the group of seven.

During the early NSD FSU needed to hit on the wide receiver position. They missed badly when their top two targets went elsewhere (Kevin Coleman, Devaughn Mortimer). That forced FSU to hit the portal. The coaches did exactly that with the addition of Winston Wright (West Virginia), Deuce Spann (Illinois), Johnny Wilson (Arizona State) and Mycah Pittman (Oregon). FSU just needs two of the four to give them some production and upgrade the overall position.

Finally. FSU did sign some quality players on the defensive side of the football, Sam McCall (Lake Gibson), Azareyeh Thomas (Niceville), Daniel Lyons (Homestead), Aaron Hester (Fletcher), Bishop Thomas (Bishop Moore) and Omar Graham from (Stranahan). All of these players will not only improve the talent on defense but add depth. FSU landed one of the most prized defensive transfers in DE Jared Verse (Albany).

Linebacker was the final piece of the puzzle for FSU and with the addition of Graham the Seminoles went to a familiar place in UCF to land Tatum Bethune. FSU gets a backer who was very productive at UCF. 

Other signees of note: RB Rodney Hill (Statesboro, GA), TE Brian Courtney (Ashburn, Va.), TE Jerrale Powers (Duncanville), RB Trey Benson (Transfer-Oregon), DB Greedy Vance (Louisville). 

Waiting on: Antavious Woody

Miami

At this moment Miami has 10 high school prospects signed or committed. The coaches are waiting on some prospects from the high school ranks to fill out their class. This class, while not big, has quality.

The Hurricanes had needs along the offensive line, defensive end and linebacker heading into the 2022 class. They signed a very good class in 2021 so they did not need to load up on just any players. The defensive end position, which was a strength in the 2020 season for Miami, was not as good in 2021. That is what happens when you lose two first-round picks (Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau). They also lost a quality depth guy in Quincy Roche. With the additions of Cyrus Moss and Nyjalik Kelly the Hurricanes have a very good defensive end class. They are still waiting on Shemar Stewart (Monsignor Pace) and Mason Thomas (Cardinal Gibbons). Thomas is the more likely player to pull the trigger for the Hurricanes as Stewart is expected to sign with Texas A&M. Land both and Miami hit a home run at one of the most important positions on defense.

Miami is loaded at running back and tight end. With Will Mallory coming back there really was no need for the Hurricanes to sign a high school tight end. One of the first commitments they landed was from Jaleel Skinner of (IMG Academy). From a size and athletic standpoint Skinner has the ability to eventually play on Sundays. He now needs to develop that talent. Miami returns four running backs so there really was no pressing need to pull in another one. They did when Henry Parrish (Columbus HS-Ole Miss) decided to come back home. The Hurricanes may have the deepest and most talented backfield in the ACC in 2022.

With the loss of Charleston Rambo to the NFL, Miami wanted to add some solid depth to the receiver position. Isaiah Horton from Tennessee is the only high school receiver committed to them. They did land Frank Ladson from Clemson. He is originally from South Dade High. The talented receiver showed flashes of being very good at Clemson but frequently battled injuries. If the coaches can get him to play to his potential they will have added a prospect who has not only size but speed to stretch the field.

Where Miami has struggled under previous staffs is the offensive line. We feel that it is one area that Mario Cristobal will not neglect. He has landed transfers from Oregon (Logan Sagapolu). He gives them a big body inside to help run the football. The Hurricanes are still waiting on some high school players as well. The rest of the class was not big but guys like Khamauri Rogers, Chris Graves, Wesley Bissainthe, Markeith, Williams, Antoine Moultrie (UAB transfer) and Jake Lichtenstein (USC transfer) will not only improve the defense but raise the floor. 

Other signees of note: Jaden Harris (Riverview, Ga.) and Jacurri Brown (Lowndes, Ga.).

Waiting On: OT Josh Conerly (Seattle, Wash.), OT Anez Cooper (Pleasant Grove, Ala.), OG Dave Iuli (Puyallup, Wash.), DT Ahmad Moten (Cardinal Gibbons).

Florida

The Gators decided to fire football coach Dan Mullen in November. When you fire a coach there is usually a transition that happens and where it effects your program the most is in recruiting. The Gators right now have a class that considering the circumstances is not bad.

They needed to improve the offensive line and it looks like that may have happened. When you take into account they landed four high school prospects, and then added two more lineman through the transfer portal, a position that was considered a weakness may end up a strength. UF needed to bring in some talent on defense and with the additions of players like Kamari Wilson (IMG), Devin Moore (Naples) and Chris McClellan (Oklahoma) it looks like they filled those needs. The best player in their class may end up being Shemar James out of Faith Academy in Alabama. He is a big-time talent at linebacker. 

Who else should we look at? Tony Livingston from King High in Tampa was a former tight end that has converted to offensive tackle. He is a big, long, athletic player who, if he continues to develop as a tackle prospect, has a chance to be very good. Jamari Lyons out of Vierra in Melbourne was one of the top defensive tackle prospects in Florida. The one player that intrigues us is quarterback Jack Miller. The transfer from Ohio State could come in and steal the quarterback spot after the lack of consistency from Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. 

Other signees of note: OT David Conner (Deerfield Beach), OL Christian Williams (Fort Bend, Texas), PK Trey Smack (Severna Park, MD), RB Trevor Etienne (Jennings, La.), DL Andrew Savaiinaea (Graham, Wash.), OL Jalen Farmer (Eastside, GA), S Miguel Mitchell (Oxford, AL), QB Max Brown (Tulsa, OK), TE Hayden Hansen (Weatherford, TX), OL O’Cyrus (Lafayette-Transfer), CB Jalen Kimber (UGA-Transfer), RB Montrell Johnson (Lafayette-Transfer), OT Kamaryn Waites (Lafayette-Transfer), DL Tyrone Truesdell (Auburn-Transfer) 

UCF

Between high school prospects and the transfer portal UCF has 25 newcomers coming to Orlando this fall. UCF has gone from a program that not many believed in 20 years ago to becoming the team no one wants to play anymore. UCF got a big win in their bowl game against rival Florida. Along with their move to the Big 12, UCF has turned up the level of players they are recruiting. This class could be one of the better ones they have had in recent years. 

The Headliner: The top rated recruit in their class is Nikai Martinez. He helped lead Apopka to the 8A state finals. Martinez will most likely end up at boundary corner or slot receiver. He has good technique. He is a player that is going to challenge other receivers. He is also tough enough to come up and play the run. The secondary got other reinforcements with twins Ja’Cari and Demari Henderson were both courted by Power 5 programs but decided to further their careers at UCF. These two can end up lock down corners at the next level. Both have the size and length you want in the secondary. The defense also added players like Ath Tyler Griffin (New South Bulloch HS) out of Georgia, DE Jamaal Johnson (Chaminade Madonna), LB TJ Bullard (Berkeley Prep), LB Kam Moore (Seminole Sanford). Each of these players we feel can make an impact on Day 1. 

On offense the player we like the most is QB/Ath Thomas Castellanos. He is a big-time athlete who can beat you with either his arm or legs. In the Gus Malzahn offensive system, Thomas will end up a star. The Knights did not stop there. They landed Xavier Townsend, who was one of the most underrated players in Florida. Berkeley Prep made it to the state finals and Xavier was a big reason why. 

Other High School prospects that UCF Signed or got commitments from: WR Quan Lee (Buchholz HS), DL Keahnist Thompson (Lakeland HS), RB Jordan McDonald (Milton HS-Georgia), TE Grant Stevens (Nease HS), K Caden Kitler (Texas), OT Leyton Nelson (Boone HS), OL Miguel Maldonado (Lakeland HS). 

The transfer portal has also been kind to the Knights. They landed starting TE Kemore Gamble (UF), DT Lee Hunter (Auburn), WR Kobe Hudson (Auburn), OT Ryan Swobdoa (Virginia), QB John Rhys Plumlee (Ole Miss), LB KD McDaniel (Kentucky), LB Terrance Lewis (Maryland), OT Tyler Grable (Jacksonville State) and QB Joey Gatewood (Kentucky).

USF

The Bulls (2-10) come off another disappointing season. They enter the 2022 season as a must-win year for coach Jeff Scott. He has gradually improved the roster but this year’s class was a bit of a setback for a program that finished their class strong in 2021. USF only had 11 high school players either sign letter of intents or commit this cycle. The Bulls went heavy in the transfer market, landing 14 players. 

Eddie Kelly of West Orange HS is the headliner. This kid was getting interest from P5 programs. The former tight end moved to defensive line last year, and it was a smart move as Kelly has tremendous upside on that side of the football. He has a chance to be part of the rotation in 2022. Jackson Long comes from Tennessee and may be one of the better tight end prospects USF has ever signed. He has all the physical tools to be very good at USF. We expect him to see early playing time. 

USF has landed 14 players from the portal. Amaris Brown (Kansas State) and Ajou Ajou (Clemson) should be two of the players from the Portal who make an immediate impact. Brown gives USF a play maker at receiver while Ajou gives them a receiver with some size. For an offense that struggles to score points these two could change that on Day 1.

Other signees of note: LB Jhalyn Shuler (Coffeyville, Kan.), LB DeAunte Hunter (Lowndes, Ga.), WR Javohn Thomas (Sickles), WR Gunnar Smith (Lake Mary), TE Jayson Littlejohn (College of Sequoias), QB Byrum Brown (Rolesville, NC), CB Tavin Ward (Palmetto Prep). Michael Williams of (West Broomfield, Mich.) and Tony Newsome (West Orange) are both committed prospects but neither has signed with USF.