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FSU regaining momentum with some of state's top prospects

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OL Jalen Rivers is excited about meeting new FSU offensive line coach Randy Clements.
OL Jalen Rivers is excited about meeting new FSU offensive line coach Randy Clements.

There's no denying that Florida State's disappointing 2018 season had a negative impact on recruiting as the Seminoles tried to wrap up the class of 2019. But now that head coach Willie Taggart has overhauled parts of his coaching staff, the Seminoles seem to be gaining steam again with some key recruits.

Warchant caught up with several of those prospects during the Central Florida Rivals Camp in Lakeland this past weekend.

Bond with Haggins weighs heavily in recruitment of Oak Leaf stars

Two of the most highly regarded prospects in the state of Florida just happen to hail from the same school in Orange Park -- Oakleaf High School. And as luck would have it, both DE Chantz Williams and OT Jalen Rivers also happen to have very close bond also with FSU defensive line coach Odell Haggins.

The Central Florida Rivals Camp was another opportunity for Williams to show why he's considered one of the nation's top pass-rushers. The four-star end was practically unblockable during the one-on-one drills and went on to earn Defensive Line MVP honors.

On the recruiting front, things are still very hectic for Williams, who announced a Top Six earlier this year. Florida State made that cut, and Williams said Odell Haggins is a major reason why.

"I'm always talking to FSU," Williams said. "Coach Odell is Face-Timing me, and my mom is talking with him. He's like everyone's uncle in our family. I feel very comfortable with Coach Odell. ... I think as a group, we trust him a lot."

In previous years, a defensive end prospect like Williams wouldn't actually get to play in Haggins' segment, even if he recruited them. But now that Taggart has made Haggins the coach of the entire defensive line, that is about to change. And in Williams' mind, that's a big deal.

"Definitely for me, if I went there, that's huge," Williams said. "And it makes the transition easier because I know what type of coach he is, how and what he expects, and I know he's going to get the best out of me. That's what Coach Odell expects. So it's great he's coaching the entire defensive line."

Along with his feelings for Haggins, Williams said there are several other reasons why the 'Noles are in his Top Six.

"There's a lot of tradition I love at FSU, and I have a lot of family ties there," he said. "My mom went to Florida State, and one of my cousins played with Odell, and they are still pretty good friends. They were also my first offer, so they are pretty high up there for me."

Williams said he doesn't have a leader at this point, and he added that the six schools on his list are all pretty close together.

One thing that will weigh heavily into Williams' decision is where his good friend and teammate Jalen Rivers feels most comfortable. The pair confirmed that they would love to find a program that suits both of them, and Rivers has Florida State in his top five.


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