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Taggart’s FSU coaching staff taking shape, with Jim Leavitt the likely defensive coordinator

Jim Leavitt FSU coaching staff
Scott Olmos/USA TODAY Sports

Willie Taggart is Florida State’s new coach, and the speculation surrounding Taggart now is who he will hire as assistants and how quickly he can salvage FSU’s recruiting class.

Initially, there had been speculation that he could bring at least four assistants with him from Oregon: defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, offensive line coach/co-coordinator Mario Cristobal, running backs coach Donte Pimpleton and outside linebacker coach Raymond Woodie. All four have vast Florida connections.

It seems a given that Leavitt will be FSU’s defensive coordinator, and it’s likely that Woodie and Pimpleton also move east. But Cristobal has been named Oregon’s interim coach, and he could end up as a candidate for the Ducks’ permanent job or be kept as an assistant by the new coach. He also could end up heading to FSU as well. A Miami native who played and coached at UM, Cristobal is a top-flight recruiter, especially in south Florida.

Landing Leavitt would be a coup. He is the former coach at USF and has extensive recruiting ties in Florida, especially in the Tampa Bay area. Leavitt also is a well-respected X’s and O’s coach who has spent time as an NFL assistant.

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Pimpleton was teammates with Taggart in college at Western Kentucky and worked for him as an assistant at WKU and USF; he is considered a strong recruiter. Woodie was an assistant for Taggart at USF and WKU; he also is a former successful high school coach in the Tampa Bay area and is known most of all for his recruiting ability. He could end up as FSU’s special teams coordinator.

Current FSU analyst Dameyune Craig could go with Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M, he could end up as a quarterback coach on Taggart’s staff or he could end up elsewhere. He talked with Taggart about an assistant’s job at Oregon last season and it would be at least a mild surprise if there aren’t talks this year. Former FSU Heisman winner Chris Weinke might be an even better choice right now; he is an analyst at Alabama, has spent time as an NFL assistant and is the former coach at talent factory IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Coincidentally, Taggart went to high school at Bradenton’s Manatee High.

Speculation has Miami wide receivers coach Ron Dugans moving to FSU. He is a Tallahassee native and an FSU alum who spent two seasons as Taggart’s receiver coach at USF.

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