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FSU bolsters D-line with three talented additions on National Signing Day

After losing some key pieces from a defensive line group that was the strength of the 2021 team, Florida State's coaches believe they made solid headway with restocking their cupboard during the early signing period.

They signed three defensive linemen on Wednesday -- two tackles and an end -- and another end committed that morning but has yet to sign.

“Once they committed, they trusted in what Coach [Mike] Norvell is doing here at Florida State,” said longtime FSU defensive tackles coach and assistant head coach Odell Haggins. “The believed in it, the defensive line played well, and they saw what they wanted to see. The head coach makes it easier for you out there in recruiting. He’s’ calling kids and texting them, and that’s a big plus.”

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One of Florida State’s earliest verbal commitments for the 2022 class, defensive end Aaron Hester, unsurprisingly sent in his letter of intent early in the morning after being committed for nearly a calendar year. FSU's defensive coaches said the 6-foot-1, 237-pound Hester can actually serve several different roles within their schemes.

"Obviously Aaron is a little different than a standard defensive end. We play out of the two point stance a lot, and we will do Fox and we absolutely love how he fits into this position,” FSU defensive ends coach John Papuchis said. “He's a guy that can stand up and will do a great job against the run. He's a very hard pass-rusher the way he gets after the quarterback."

Hester is also the son of Ron Hester, a former FSU linebacker and part-time starter for dominant ’Noles defenses in 1980 and 1981.

“We are excited about him and what he represents,” Papuchis continued on the younger Hester. “We love his leadership and character. You see it a lot with him. The fact that he's a legacy does matter. He's very proud to wear the Garnet and Gold. When you have guys like that on your team in how much he loves the school, it can be contagious through your team.”

The highest-rated defensive line signee was four-star New Orleans native Bishop Thomas, who later transferred to Orlando to finish out his high school career. A late June verbal to FSU, Thomas has a reputation as a pass-rushing tackle who Fuller compared to FSU’s Malcolm Ray.

“With us being a four-down front, movement is always key for us. You've gotta hold point of attacks, but we want guys that can make plays behind the line of scrimmage,” Fuller said. “He’s a guy that in the middle of our defense, he probably fits into the Ray mold for us. He’s got a similar skill set.”

“Bishop, a lot of schools were recruiting him,” Haggins said of Thomas, who he called a great kid. “He believed in what we were preaching to him. The family atmosphere. That’s where he comes from. He really liked that.”

Then also at defensive tackle was the addition of Daniel Lyons, an in-state Miami-area product who committed to FSU in July and stands at 6-foot-5, 285 pounds. Fuller called Lyons a “prototypical” defensive tackle.

“Another guy that came up this summer and worked out for us. I think the sky is the limit with him,” Fuller said. “Long, athletic, loves football. Super competitive. His maturity and how he’s looked at at that school. He changed Homestead.”

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