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Tomahawk Nation football roundtable: Florida State spring Junior Day discussion

How successful was Mike Norvell’s second junior day?

Destyn Pazon
@yvngfat13/Twitter

FSU’s second junior day of 2020 is officially in the books, and to help recap the weekend, our merry band of Tomahawk Nation writers are sharing their thoughts.

Let’s dive in.

Considering the prospects that showed up this weekend, what letter grade would you assign Florida State’s second junior day of 2020?

TimScribble: If there weren’t big names mentioned as planning on visiting in the lead up to junior day, I believe this weekend would have been a solid B. Florida State received visits from Destyn Pazon, Lee Hunter, Dink Jackson, commits Branden Jennings and Joshua Farmer and several other talent. Not to mention the groundwork that is being laid for the next few years. But also Chad Mascoe, Jaydon Hood, and Julian Armella all were unable to show. Couple that with most of your rivals having elite 2020 talent on campus and I’ll give this weekend a C+.

Oline0175: Look, in all the WEEK was pretty good starting with 5* Dylan Brooks on the first and culminating with top LB Barrett Carter on Sunday. However, the actual JR day event was a letdown as some prospects you really needed to visit didn’t show up. Having said that I’m gonna choose to grade this “JR day” on the week and the month of March as a whole. I give the week a B.

Officially.back: Add me to the "B" boat. I was excited to see the names initially listed, but a few of the faves did not make it to town. This has hurt some, but I do think FSU did pretty well delivering it message with the prospects that did make it on to campus.

Jeremiah Zanders: The staff did an excellent job of getting key out of state prospects in town such as Destyn Pazon and Barrett Carter which gave a huge boost to the weekend. They bought in a decent haul in the trenches and also made some headway in the 2022 class. I'll give the weekend a solid B.

Juan Montalvo: Well, unfortunately this Junior Day weekend was a reminder of how far behind a new staff can be in the Early Signing Period era, even on the “next” class. 2021 kids were getting visits set up last fall, while Norvell was in Memphis and all but Ron Dugans and Odell Haggins were recruiting elsewhere.

And the kids did end up elsewhere. I think B would be a fair grade given the curve, but if we’re talking about bringing in 2021 talent who can be difference makers, the visitor list was more notable for who didn’t show up, rather than who did. C for me.

Which prospect was the biggest win showing up this weekend? And who was the biggest miss?

TimScribble: it would be easy to say Pazon and Lee were the biggest wins based off their star rankings. But I’ll go with Darrell Jackson, who is the teammate of FSU commit Joshua Farmer. Jackson has potential and would be a nice addition to the class. Additionally, if Florida State could get Jackson to flip from Tennessee, it could help to solidify Farmer. The biggest miss for me is Jaydon Hood. He is on the cusp of blowing up on the national scene and if he had made it on campus, fellow linebacker Branden Jennings and FSU could have possibly convinced him to commit.

NoleThruandThru: Getting Lee Hunter on campus was a big time win that could pay huge dividends in the future. I have to agree that Hood was the biggest miss- poll our recruiting staff and I’m confident that we all believe Hood is extremely underrated. Hopefully the coaches get him on campus soon, either on his own or in a small group, so he can get a lot of individual attention.

Oline0175: The biggest win of the weekend for me was Jared Wilson, OG from North Carolina. Wilson visited on Sunday and left very impressed by the Norvell and Atkins. This kid has big time potential on the offensive line. The biggest miss for me was Julian Armella. The young man is a legacy, has first round OL talent, and needs to be on campus as much as possible.

Officially.back: Since Tim won't take the low hanging fruit, I will. Pazon, for me. FSU is making a concerted effort not to be intimidated in Louisiana. Getting a kid on campus, and shooting a Dame Dollar deep 3 makes a bold statement. On a different note, Hood is the biggest miss for me as well. Tim lists reasons far better than I could.

Jeremiah Zanders: A big win for the staff was being able to bring in Barrett Carter for a first impression. Linebacker will be a limited position numbers wise for the Noles this year so getting top talent is crucial. On the other hand not getting Hood and Armella on campus Is disappointing.

Juan Montalvo: Sure, getting Armella would have been great, but the UA camp is a hard sell - especially when the rest of your team is going, and the drive is an hour rather than 6. It’s Lee Hunter for me. Getting blue chip interior DL on campus is an indication that you’re playing the game - especially when it’s an Alabama kid and Auburn commit that both big Alabama schools want.

Is the staff targeting the right prospects?

NoleThruandThru: It’s been fascinating to watch the staff target certain areas- we’re seeing a huge focus in Alabama and Louisiana along with Georgia and Florida. Obviously these are areas the coaches have recruited in the past, but prioritizing those states also means less presence in some areas of Florida. I love the wide net they’re casting and I think the focus on mid-low 4 stars and high 3 stars is completely appropriate right now. Star rankings aren’t useful this early in the cycle for one, and the staff is targeting guys who will contribute and set a firm foundation of flipping the culture instead of wasting time and resources to finish 4th for some current five stars.

Oline0175: The kids in Florida just don’t see that interested. Whether that be the Panhandle bunch, South Florida athletes, or any player in between. There’s been a ton of negative recruiting against the FSU program instate and there’s gonna need to be proof that this staff can get it done. However, the Noles have had a ton of success getting kids from other states on campus. I think they are doing a nice job of chasing attainable kids and playing the long game with Florida prospects.

Officially.back: This is extremely tough for me to answer. You have to make your presence known in FLA for long-term sustainability. At the moment, FSU does not seem to be contending head to head with UF in recruiting wars, but seems to be putting a lot of energy building relationships in the back end. The awesome thing is this is not a sprint, but a marathon and FSU seems confident in letting its body of work speak on the field.

Juan Montalvo: They’re putting in work, and not getting much traction. That said, in a “follow the follows” world, it’s pretty clear they’re spreading their net wide, from plans A to D. I have less worried that they’ll be delusional about who they’ll be able to pull off. All coaches are confident, but realism is critical in recruiting. And right now, expecting an FSU program with 5 years of bad product to compete with the majors just isn’t logical.

Which coach has had the biggest impact on recruiting so far?

TimScribble: Marcus Woodson is a name that several recruits have mentioned during their visit. His time at Auburn helped set up connections that he’s been able to use to his advantage.

NoleThruandThru: I think it’s Atkins. From a superficial perspective, there just aren’t many young African-American OL coaches out there in P5 programs, so that immediately gives him a unique perspective. But this dude is quietly making bigger waves than people know on the trail, and I think the immense respect he has among his peers will help him pull an upset or two on the trail this year.

Oline0175: Mike Norvell for me. Every kid walks away talking about his passion, his vision, and how he’s ““family.” I think the assistants are doing a great job getting kids to visit but it is Norvell who has to seal the deal.

Officially.back: Iron Mike. Where the former coach sold recruits on future hopes and promise, Norvell seems to hang his hat on not making empty promises and placing a emphasis on hardwork, effort, competition, and personal development. The recruits are definitely buying into it.

Juan Montalvo: I think Marve is going completely unnoticed here. It’s rare you get someone who can be a P5 caliber coach at age 31, let alone at a major program like FSU. Yes, Jennings was a legacy - but Marve connects well as a young coach.

Out of the prospects that showed this weekend, which (realistic) prospect would you most like to see FSU land?

TimScribble: I would initially say defensive tackle Lee Hunter, but I don’t believe I can call him realistic yet. So for me, it’s wide receiver Destyn Pazon. When Pazon showed up to Florida State earlier this year, I would have put him in the same category that I consider Hunter. But with an additional visit and all the positive feedback he’s provided, I think FSU actually has a chance in his recruitment. Pazon has incredible speed and could see the field immediately for FSU.

NoleThruandThru: I’m tempted to say Dink Jackson because he’s one of my favorites this cycle, but I’ll say OL Jake Slaughter because of the need he helps fill and the potential he has to be a several year starter. I also love Pazon but Slaughter helps fill the biggest position of need and is a very realistic pull.

Oline0175: Give me Jared Wilson. I believe Wilson has NFL talent at a position of need. Also pulling him out of the Carolinas, which is suddenly a very tough task, and beating out some really big dogs. Give me the big space fillers all day.

Officially.back: Azareyeh Thomas. Build a wall around the Panhandle! Thomas is an exceptional two-way player that is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Equally important, FSU needs to wins key battles in its own backyard.

Jeremiah Zanders: The key prospect to me is Louisiana WR Destyn Pazon. Pazon is a dynamo on the field and would be a candidate for early playing time at FSU. It would also send a message that Norvell and company can recruit with the best in the country.

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