KJ Bolden commits to Florida State: What 5-star safety brings to Seminoles defense


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By Grace Raynor, Seth Emerson, Cameron Teague-Robinson and Ari Wasserman

Florida State scored a major win on the recruiting trail when KJ Bolden, a five-star safety from Buford (Ga.) High School committed to the Seminoles on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Bolden is ranked No. 7 overall and the No. 1 safety in the Class of 2024, per the 247Sports Composite.
  • Buford High School is home to three five-star prospects in the Class of 2024 — Bolden, quarterback Dylan Raiola, an Ohio State commit and a recent transfer from the Phoenix area, and uncommitted defensive lineman Eddrick Houston.
  • Florida State’s class jumped to No. 4 in the national rankings after adding Bolden.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

What does this mean for Florida State?

The Seminoles might be panicked about the current state of the ACC, but any potential uncertainty about the league is surely not hurting them on the recruiting trail. At least not yet. Bolden is the third five-star in this class and the second in the last eight days to commit to coach Mike Norvell, joining cornerback Charles Lester III. (Tight end Landen Thomas committed in April.)

Florida State is very much on track to sign a top-10 class as Norvell continues his quest to return the program to its glory days. In all, FSU is up to 22 commits total, including four top-50 players. If FSU can keep its class together between now and December, then develop and retain its talent once this class is on campus, there’s no reason why we couldn’t be talking about the Seminoles in the Playoff a few years from now. — Raynor

How big a loss is this for Georgia?

Check back in a few years. On the face of it, Georgia should do just fine as it still has the nation’s No. 1 overall class, including three defensive backs ranked in the top 100. The safety position also looks pretty set for the next couple years with current sophomore Malaki Starks (preseason first-team All-SEC this year) and current freshman Joenel Aguero (top 100 in the 2023 class).

But if the analysts are right on Bolden, he’s a difference-maker who could end up haunting Georgia down the line. This is also a dent in Georgia’s near-term recruiting, not being able to keep a five-star in the state despite everything the program has going for it.

Of course Georgia fans will point out this recruitment may not be over, especially since Bolden will be teammates this year with Raiola, Georgia’s highest-profile commitment. — Emerson

How big are these recent misses for Ohio State?

What was once shaping up to be a special defensive class for the Buckeyes is turning into a disappointment. In the last two weeks, the Buckeyes have missed out on two five-stars (Bolden and South Carolina-bound edge rusher Dylan Stewart), as well as four-star linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa, who picked Notre Dame.

These misses come one year after Ohio State also whiffed on multiple key targets on the defensive line. Ohio State has plenty of elite talent on offense, and while there is talent on defense, the Buckeyes have been searching for difference-makers. But now, another one has fallen through the cracks. They’ll now switch their focus to other safeties, such as four-star Zaquan Patterson, who is not expected to announce his destination before he takes official visits this fall. — Teague-Robinson

What other five stars should we be watching?

To me, the most intriguing five-star prospect still on the board is wide receiver Micah Hudson of Temple (Texas) Lake Belton. Rated the No. 19 overall player in the country, Hudson was seemingly favoring Texas Tech a few weeks ago. Some expected a commitment to come, but it hasn’t happened yet. Texas is really involved with Hudson, too, but it would be really cool to see the Red Raiders — who are a dark horse in the Big 12 race this year — get some payoff for their relentless in-state recruiting.

On a related note, 11 of the top-15 players in the state of Texas have issued commitments in this cycle. None have chosen Texas. So that is a secondary storyline to track as Hudson’s recruitment continues. — Wasserman

Required reading

(Photo: James Gilbert / Getty Images)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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