In the end, Quashon Fuller’s loyalty reigned supreme. The relationship he and his mother built with Florida State over nearly three years trumped the national championships, alumni playing in the NFL and Nick Saban’s gravitational pull on blue-chip recruits at Alabama.
The four-star defensive end from Lehigh Senior High School ended a lengthy process where he flirted with the likes of the Crimson Tide, Florida and Auburn before ultimately entrusting FSU, which went through a coaching change and a rocky 2018 season, with his future.
Fuller grabbed a Seminoles hat from a bag, did the tomahawk chop and signed a National Letter of Intent to play for coach Willie Taggart in a ceremony in front of family, friends and coaches in the school auditorium.
“Alabama has a great program, but I just felt at home at Florida State,” Fuller said. “Me and (associate head coach Odell Haggins) have been just locked in for years on top of years. Especially with my (high school) coach being (FSU alum James Chaney), just playing with him, it was only right. My mom loves Florida State every time we go up there. I just felt like it was the perfect move.”
Ranked the 202nd player in the Class of 2019 and 14th defensive end in the country by 247Sports, Fuller was the centerpiece of National Signing Day in Lee County, an event that lost a little bit of its luster with 80 percent of the nation’s top recruits opting to sign during the early signing period in December.
In Southwest Florida’s 2019 recruiting class, the All-American joins Dunbar’s Derick Hunter Jr. (Texas A&M), Seneca Milledge (Virginia) and Major Williams (Virginia) and Naples’ Chez Mellusi (Clemson), Fort Myers’ Marcus Finger (Maryland) and Golden Gate’s Jouvensly Bazile (Washington State) as Power 5 signees.
FSU went 5-7 in Taggart’s first season, missing a bowl game for the first time in 36 years. That didn’t deter Fuller. Jumping ship wasn’t an option.
“I stuck with it because I grew up a Florida State fan,” Fuller said. “I feel like players who grew up Florida State fans should just come here in times like this and help their school.”
Not wasting any time, Fuller’s brother Deqauveon, a rising junior linebacker at Lehigh, announced on Twitter he verbally committed to FSU.
Saban and his staff put a full court press on Fuller last weekend during his official visit to Tuscaloosa. Fuller was thankful for the interest Alabama showed.
In an interview Monday, Fuller said it was possible to say no to Saban, something he figured didn’t happen often, because the veteran coach gave off a down-to-earth vibe that a lot of people don’t really see. Fuller proved it Wednesday morning when Saban called.
“He took it pretty well,” Fuller said. “He just said he understood. Actually, if they were recruiting me longer than they were it would have been a much harder decision.”
During his visit, Fuller said an Alabama defensive lineman told him he’d already played under three different position coaches. It gave Fuller pause.
“My mom just said the connection wasn’t there,” Fuller said of his conversation with Mechelle Hadley. “She said they were trying to work things out too quickly so she didn’t like that. Whatever mom says goes. She knows best.”
The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder, who rarely allowed a smile to leave his face Wednesday, transferred to Lehigh from South Fort Myers after his sophomore season. Ranked No. 12 in The News-Press/Naples Daily News Big 15 list of top recruits in Southwest Florida before the 2017 season, he played just three games before a shoulder season ended his season.