Willie Taggart signs FSU’s biggest Tampa Bay class in three decades

Four locals are headed to the Seminoles.
Willie Taggart's first FSU class has a very heavy Tampa Bay flavor. [ AP FILE PHOTO ]
Willie Taggart's first FSU class has a very heavy Tampa Bay flavor. [ AP FILE PHOTO ]
Published Feb. 7, 2018|Updated Feb. 7, 2018

Florida State and new coach Willie Taggart have made local history.

Four players from Tampa Bay area high schools have signed with the Seminoles for the 2018 class. That's the largest number since 1982.

Today's signees: Three-star lineman Chaz Neal (Wesley Chapel High)  and the Armwood duo of four-star receiver Warren Thompson and  four-star defensive end Malcolm Lamar.

Neal and Thompson had been committed to FSU. Lamar chose the Seminoles over rival Florida. The fourth player, Wesley Chapel four-star defensive back Isaiah Bolden, signed with FSU in December.

Taggart's early success in the area isn't a surprise. The Palmetto native has recruited Tampa Bay well, most notably in his four seasons as USF's head coach.

But FSU traditionally hasn't focused on Tampa Bay. The Seminoles signed as many locals in this class (four) than in the previous four combined (four).

A quick look at some of the biggest local classes in FSU history:

2013: St. Petersburg Catholic RB Ryan Green, Plant OL Richy Klepal and St. Petersburg TE Jeremy Kerr

2008: Hillsborough DT Moses McCray, Middleton RB Carlton Jones, Plant OL Rhonne Sanderson

2001: Jesuit K Xavier Beitia, Lakewood LB Marcello Church, East Lake OL Matt Meinrod

1988: Brandon OL Kevin Mancini, Plant ATH Pete Prinzi, King P John Wimberly

1984: Clearwater DB Terry Griggley, Brandon LB Felton Hayes, Dunedin OL Joe Ionata

1982: Dunedin DL John Ionota, Clearwater WR Hassan Jones, Brandon DE Stanley Scott, Lakewood OL Todd Stroud

1979: Brandon QB Ken Burnett, Jesuit DB Greg Cary, Robinson WR Hardis Johnson, Leto QB Mark Trimble

1975: Tampa TE/WR Mike Dix, Largo RB Victor Fowler, Tampa DB/WR Nat Italiano, Tampa OL Jim Spivey (no high schools listed in this year's media guide)