“The world is mine, fool get back. Don’t mess with my stack the gauge is racked. I’m ‘bout to drop the bomb, I’m the West Coast don. Big fish in this small pond!” Ice Cube, “Westside Connection”
One of the key elements to consider when hiring a head football coach is his connections. It’s why you see coaches spend time in different regions of the US in order to develop more widespread relationships in various recruiting hotbeds.
Florida is already the hottest of hotbeds with an unreal 10 percent of eligible student-athletes going on to sign FBS offers, but this year, FSU was behind the eight ball with the previous staff not even offering some of the state’s best prospects. Taggart and his staff have made up a lot of ground in their short time on campus, but started too late, too far behind, and too many of Florida’s best players are spoken for or anticipated to go elsewhere.
The Taggart Effect is a nationwide phenomenon, however, and he is using his relationships to reach into other hotbeds, including California.
Florida State hasn’t had much success in California lately.
Outside of Malik Henry’s brief stay, technically, FSU hasn’t had a Cali prospect sign since some guy named Joe Tonga in 2008. That’s a hell of a drought.
Since 1999, FSU seems to only have signed seven players total from out West. Fans of Florida high school football would say, “so what;” I would say that lack of geographic diversity can be dangerous. California schools have taken some of Florida’s best players during that same time and even Miami has had great players from out West make an impact for them: DJ Williams – straight beast.
FSU’s track record with California guys was solid at one point.
Travis Johnson and Lorenzo Booker went on to the NFL and Kenny O’Neal had a good track career. Chris Rix wasn’t as bad as folks think, he just couldn’t beat those great Miami teams; he tore up Florida. Dominic Robinson was a contributor, switching from defense to play wide receiver.
The talent Florida State has mined out West was solid, but with the emergence of USC, UCLA, Oregon, Stanford – Pac 12 football in general – it has been tougher to get Cali kids to leave there.
“Whenever there’s a drought get your umbrellas out because that’s when I brainstorm,” Jay Z best described what Taggart is currently doing.
When Taggart came to FSU, he offered Oregon targets, not only the Florida kids, the West Coast ones as well. Taggart almost got a clean sweep, only missing out on Brendan Radley-Hiles (Bookie is from Cali but played at IMG). He landed Jaiden Woodbey (four-star safety from Los Angeles) and Camren McDonald (four-star tight end from Long Beach).
I think he has a realistic shot of bringing Jalen Hall (four-star wide receiver from Long Beach) and a puncher’s chance at Olaijah Griffin (four-star safety from Mission Viejo).
Some anticipate FSU will sign four California players in this class and another in next year’s. That would make as many California kids in two years as the Noles have had in almost the last 20.
Having numbers matters. Having multiple recruiting areas to draw from matters.
When I played at FSU, we had the Cali guys, but we also had an infusion of talent from Texas, which created a pipeline. From Tallahassee, we had a Lincoln and North Florida Christian pipeline. We’ve always had Miami guys. If Taggart lands as many California guys as I think, you can see that he’ll have inroads for years to come there.
Not being able to lock down Florida is a problem in 2018, but in Taggart’s effort to claw the Seminoles back into the Top 10 or 15 this year, why not try finding gold out West?
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