Many people say that good things come in threes. That is certainly true today for the FSU family, as the Seminoles received their third commitment of the day from Merrill Noel. Merrill is a cornerback from Pahokee, a teammate of De’Joshua Johnson, and a great athlete. It seems that the floodgates have opened for FSU at this point, and the weeks leading up to Seminole Showtime could be very exciting.
Read more about Merrill Noel
Playing for state champion Pahokee Blue Devils is always a good way to get noticed and Noel began to get noticed last football season. People who thought that he was bound for a Division 1 school began to see a corner that had incredible speed and an elite first step. They also saw a kid who has an explosive back pedal. Merrill gained steam because of a couple other things he does well also; he comes up to play the run extremely well, and tackles a lot more like a strong safety than he does a cornerback. All of these things had schools interested in him and sending him letters. However Noel is not without his detractors either. In his junior season he had a penchant for getting lost in coverage and being beat by players who were not elite. It is obviously a problem if a CB isn’t dominating the WR he plays week in and week out in Florida Class 2B. Many people believed that he wasn’t much of a prospect.
Oh how things have changed since his junior season ended, as Merrill Noel is showing the same type of elite athletic ability and showing doubters that he can cover. In the Miami NIKE camp he did extremely well. At a camp with outstanding players from all around the country Merrill Noel stood above the rest. FLAvarsity.com named Noel the best DB at the camp. But it wasn’t just strong workout numbers, they said "When it comes to making plays in the one-on-one action, Noel seemed to always be in position much of the day. He has a very explosive first step after dropping back into his back pedal in coverage". But it doesn’t stop there. Merrill Noel played on Team Palm Beach at an elite 7-on-7 passing tournament in Tampa this off season. Once again he was very impressive helping lead Team Palm Beach to a championship against some of the best players in all of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. Courtesy of ESPN: "Sources on the ground at the event said that perhaps the fastest-riser on Team Palm Beach was cornerback Merrill Noel (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee). Noel was able to lock down several top receivers during the championship game against Team Alabama and according to observers, played with a great amount of moxie and fire, which is not a surprise as most players from Pahokee do." I’m not a fan of 7-on-7 stats very much but he had 6 interceptions on the day leading the tournament. He was put on an island again and again with some of the most explosive WR in the tri-state area and outplayed them, period. The measurables, yeah he has those too, running a 4.37 40 yard dash in an Orlando combine a couple months back.
Merrill almost committed last month and I thought he was another Alphonso Smith and would go to Wake Forest, but he was told by his coach to make sure he knew what he wanted. After that time he picked up offers from UF and UM. The UF offer may not have been committable because of the talent in their class already, but they may have seen what people in his corner have seen, that he can be coached into an effective D1 CB. Noel was given the 3*/5.6 rating by Rivals (38th best CB), however Rivals has a very early evaluation period, and Noel just now seems to be putting it all together, ESPN is yet to evaluate him. In the article about Pahokee being a pipeline, I wrote about him being underrated by our fan base. I think he is underrated by recruiting services as well, and will end up a 4* by the time his senior season is over.
I have seen him play live and I was impressed enough that if I was on FSU’s staff he would have walked away with an offer. He is a great #3 CB for a class that will likely see us take 3, as we are rumored to be leading for LaMarcus Joyner and Terrance Mitchell. I wish I could make it to Seminole Showtime, and guys like Merrill Noel and De’Joshua Johnson are a big reason why. What a day.