National Signing Day was good to the FAU Owls. New head coach Willie Taggart secured the signatures of four transfer players and nine incoming recruits during February’s national signing day, filling positions of need ahead of Taggart’s first season in Boca Raton.
Headlining the National Signing Day period of recruiting is Clemson graduate transfer wide receiver TJ Chase. A native of Park City, Florida, Chase finished off his Clemson career playing behind wide receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, who will both play on Sundays. In 41 career games, Chase contributed 206 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 25 receptions. Chase is immediately eligible and should contribute to a wide receiver position that graduated both Pico Harrison and DeAngelo Antoine.
FAU also added graduate transfer wide receiver Aaron Young from Duke. In 2019, Young started all 12 games and finished with 29 receptions for 367 yards, which ranked third on the team.
Let’s take a look at Taggart’s first recruiting class with FAU:
Taggart addresses the trenches
Going into the Early Signing Period, the offensive and defensive lines were among the team’s biggest needs. FAU needed both college-ready players and developmental pieces. To address this, the Owls added junior college transfers Sebastian Dolcine (OG) and Alvin Dempsey III (DT), giving the trenches some experience. The Owls also added multiple high school recruits on National Signing Day: offensive linemen Alex Atcavage from IMG Academy, defensive lineman Evan Anderson from Orlando-Jones High School and defensive lineman Jaden Wheeler of Berrien High School (Nashville, Ga.)
Following the national signing period, Taggart believed he and his coaching staff did a good job of addressing their needs.
“Not only did we fill our needs with good football players, we filled the need with great character kids and kids that’s gonna be about the right things,” said Taggart.
The Transfer Portal giveth and taketh away
Along with Chase and Young, the Owls added three more transfers to their team. Two of which followed Taggart from Florida State.
Yanez Rogers, a Pompano Beach native, comes from Cincinnati with limited experience under his belt. Rogers is not immediately eligible and will have to apply for a NCAA waiver.
The Owls also added Florida State transfers D’Marcus Adams (WR) and Malcolm Lamar (DL). both Adams and Lamar are redshirt sophomores and will also need to apply for NCAA waivers to be eligible. As of Wednesday, Taggart did not know if either were going to apply.
Taggart also confirmed that cornerback Meiko Dotson, the Owls’ 2019 interception leader, was still in the transfer portal. Should Dotson transfer, he would be immediately eligible to play in 2020.
Big-time performers join FAU
Along with addressing positions of need, Taggart was able to add depth to other positions across the football field.
The first player to commit during February’s National Signing Day was a familiar name to the head man – his son, quarterback Willie Taggart, Jr. In 2019, Taggart helped lead Florida State University High School in Tallahassee to a 12-2 record and a spot in the Class 3A state championship game, where they were defeated by Chaminade-Madonna. Despite incumbent starter Chris Robison having two years of eligibility remaining, Taggart said the initial plan was to keep Taggart, Jr. at quarterback instead of moving him to a different position.
“I think if you ask Willie, Jr. that, he’s going to tell you, kind of like [Baltimore Ravens quarterback] Lamar Jackson told everybody else, ‘I’m a quarterback,’” Taggart said. “I tried that already as a dad. Tried to move him [away from quarterback] and he didn’t want to move.”
The national signing period also saw the addition of defensive back Peter Warrick, Jr. (Marietta, GA), the son of former Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick.
Although Warrick, Jr.’s future position is currently unknown, he is capable of playing both cornerback and safety. In his senior season, Warrick played both safety and linebacker and finished with 66 tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. Marietta finished the season with a 14-2 record and a win in the Georgia Class 7A state championship.
The Owls would later add linebacker Chris Jones from Coconut Creek High School. Jones, who is listed at 6-4, 215 pounds, is a Kansas decommit.
Taggart plans to recruit locally
The 2020 recruiting class saw just three players sign from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Despite this, Willie Taggart said that he expects most of his upcoming recruiting classes to be from the tri-counties.
While some may discredit Taggart for not focusing most of his resources on the local areas, the new coach did sign potential key contributors from the area, including defensive back Trevor Reaves from Miami-Edison. FAU also added linebacker Chris Jones during National Signing Day, adding strong depth to the defense. In December, Miami-Columbus offensive lineman Andre Lamas signed with FAU.
Taggart will likely recruit the tri-counties hard next season, as he promised to in his introductory press conference, so hold off on the early criticism.