Willie Taggart earned national acclaim when his first Florida State recruiting class soared from outside the top 60 to inside the top 12.
Two and a half years later, almost half of that 2018 class is gone.
Assuming four-star athlete Isaiah Bolden and three-star defensive lineman Jamarcus Chatman leave the program after entering the transfer portal this week, they’ll be the ninth and 10th members of that 21-person class to depart. That’s a 48-percent attrition rate, only one game into that class' third season.
Attrition happens in every program, and it’s worse in a coach’s first class because the staff and players have little time to vet each other. A Tampa Bay Times analysis in 2018 found that about a quarter of a coach’s first class bailed.
The early signing period sped up the timeline even more. Taggart had about two weeks between his hiring date and the sport’s inaugural signing day. Some misses were expected, generally and given the circumstances he faced. At least seven of the 20 Gators who Dan Mullen signed in his first class are gone, too (although two were medically disqualified and a third left as a grad transfer).
The coaching transition from Taggart to Mike Norvell also affected some of the Seminoles' defections. But this attrition rate is high and costly, leaving empty spots on the roster and unused scholarships.
FSU signed 13 blue-chip prospects in ’18. Six of them, including Bolden, are gone.
The class included four offensive linemen. The top two are gone; Christian Meadows was medically disqualified and Christian Armstrong was removed from the roster in January. After Saturday’s opener, do you think FSU could use a few extra bodies to develop along the offensive line?
At the time, we also spotlighted how Taggart built FSU’s best local haul since 1982 by signing four players from the Tampa Bay area. With Bolden (Wesley Chapel High) on his way out and Malcolm Lamar (Armwood High) reunited with Taggart at Florida Atlantic, only receiver Warren Thompson (Armwood) and offensive lineman Chaz Neal (Wesley Chapel) remain.
The class hasn’t been a total bust, however. Five of the 12 remaining players started Saturday, including cornerback Asante Samuel (two interceptions) and receiver Keyshawn Helton (who scored the Seminoles' only touchdown). Classmate Amari Gainer didn’t start but was FSU’s top defensive performer.
Despite the highlights, it’s hard to get past the biggest number — a 48-percent attrition rate that makes Norvell’s job even harder.
Four-star cornerback A.J. Lytton
Four-star receiver Tre’Shaun Harrison (now at Oregon State)
Four-star linebacker Xavier Peters (transferred to Kentucky, then left the Wildcats in June)
Four-star defensive lineman Malcolm Lamar (now at FAU)
Four-star athlete Isaiah Bolden (in the transfer portal)
Four-star offensive lineman Christian Meadows (medically disqualified)
Three-star running back Anthony Grant (now at Garden City Community College)
Three-star offensive lineman Christian Armstrong
Three-star receiver D’Marcus Adams
Three-star defensive lineman Jamarcus Chatman (entered the portal Thursday, according to 247Sports)