It’s less than two months until the 2016 season begins and less than seven months until the recruiting class of 2017 can sign their National Letters of Intent. With fierce recruiting battles underway for the top recruits in the country, it’s a good time to get to know the players who appear poised to become college football stars in the near future. So far, we’ve analyzed Najee Harris, Dylan Moses, DeAngelo Gibbs, Devon Hunter, Foster Sarrell, Tedarrell Slaton, Austin Jackson, Trey Smith, Stephen Carr and Darnay Holmes, some of the top-rated recruits in the class of 2017, according to Scout.com. This week, it’s Stanford Samuels III, the No. 9 player in the class.
Name: Stanford Samuels III
Rank: No. 9 overall, No. 2 cornerback
Height/Weight: 6’2’’/170 lbs
High School: Charles W. Flanagan (Fla.)
Commitment status: Committed to Florida State
Scouting evaluation (from Scout.com)
Samuels III is how you draw up big-time corners in today's game. Size can be looked at as a strength or area for improvement because his length is off the charts, but yet he is thin, so he needs to add mass/strength. He gets his hands on a lot of passes and his recovery speed is a real strength. Not afraid to come up and make a play against the run. Very instinctive player, can bait the quarterback, and then make a play on the ball.
Florida State had long been viewed as a prime contender to land Samuels III, the son of former Seminoles defensive back Stanford Samuels Jr. But Samuels III was receptive to pitches from other schools—including Michigan, which hired former Flanagan coach Devin Bush Sr. as a defensive analyst earlier this year and signed three Flanagan players (three-star linebackers Devin Bush Jr. and Devin Gil and three-star safety Josh Metellus) as part of its 2016 recruiting class.
In April, Samuels III named the Wolverines, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia his top four. About two months later, he committed to the Seminoles.
“Everybody says I’m following in my dad’s footsteps,” Samuels said, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. “I like to look at it as I’m getting a chance to create something for myself.
“He did it one way. I’m planning to come in and do it another way, on a bigger stage and on a bigger level.”
With his commitment—which came one day after Florida State landed another highly regarded safety from Florida in the class of 2017, Boyd H. Anderson standout Daniel Wright—Samuels III became the top-ranked recruit in a Seminoles class that counts 11 commitments and currently ranks third nationally with a 3.91 average star rating.
How he fits
Samuels III, Wright and Mainland (Fla.) High’s Cyrus Fagan—all of whom are ranked among the top 160 prospects nationally by Scout.com—compose a strong defensive back trio in Florida State’s 2017 class. But the Seminoles already have plenty of young talent in that position group on campus.
SI.com projects sophomore safety Derwin James to be the 10th-best player in the country this season, and another five-star DB who signed with Florida State in 2015, Tarvarus McFadden, is expected to make a significant impact this fall—though he’ll face stiff competition for playing time from another sophomore, Marcus Lewis. The Seminoles also added the nation’s top cornerback prospect in the class of 2016, Ocean Lakes (Va.) High’s Levonta Taylor, this February.
Florida State’s depth at cornerback may hinder Samuels III’s bid to earn significant playing time right away, but he could function as a top-tier reserve option for a loaded position group before earning a starting role.