You could not escape it.
For hours, Twitter lit up with the entire Florida State Seminoles football staff marking the end of the recruiting dead period through a number of tweets so immense that would likely crash your browser if we embedded them all.
For the last 14 months, recruits and coaches have been unable to meet each other in person, forcing staffs to analyze prospects solely off film, Zoom calls, and digital presence. Who missed out on the opportunity to tour campuses the most were the recruits — from getting the chance to evaluate their potential home for the next three to four year to missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be treated like campus royalty at universities across the country.
Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell spoke on the limitations last November:
“I think it was eight days before the early signing period [we could host recruits, then] we had 14-15 days in January. With the month of February being dead, we had I guess it was another 12 days in March. I don’t know if throughout that time that there was a day we didn’t have a prospect on campus.”
“We can’t have any contact with them. When they’re on campus, when they come here during the middle of the week or they come for a game, we can’t have any contact with them [while they’re here], even a phone call.“
For a program that hasn’t showcased much success since 2016, and a staff that hasn’t gotten to interact with recruits since the early days of March 2020, June 1 represented an almost new world of recruiting for the team, and it made sense that they went all out for the night.
Throughout the day, we got teasers of what was to come (Noles247 Josh Newberg was on top of the scoops of visits all day) from the coaching staff — if you counted random pictures of popcorn, wrestling emojis and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham looking like he was being held hostage as teasers.
What came was a celebration of the end of the dead period, with Norvell literally opening the floodgates as the clock struck 12, a reverse Cinderella in front of the Moore Center:
As he opened the doors of the Moore Athletic Center, @Coach_Norvell let out an emphatic “It is 12 o’clock. Doors are wide open, baby.”— Curt Weiler (@CurtMWeiler) June 1, 2021
Some big name targets for FSU showed up:
And the effort FSU is putting in on the trail isn’t going unnoticed — by both the fanbase and the national media at large:
It’s Midnight Madness for football recruiting.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) June 1, 2021
Here are some of the names that attended, followed by breakdowns from our recruiting staff:
Five star defensive back Travis Hunter
I’ve chosen to list him in both the wide receiver and cornerback articles because I believe he has the talent, positional skill sets, and drive to become a two-way player for FSU. I want to see him on offense, personally, but he gives the coaching staff flexibility to line him up wherever he’s most needed. As long as he stays healthy, get ready to hear plenty of comparisons to the last two-way player who won a Heisman. Lofty praise, I know.
Hunter holds a rating of 99 (5-star) and is considered the 4th best player in the nation, per 247 composite rankings (2nd best CB and the best player in Georgia). He’s making a strong case to be considered the top overall recruit in the nation. Hunter is coveted by every top program in the southeast and is a national recruit, but it doesn’t really matter how many offers he holds or who else is flirting with him—Hunter is a ‘Nole through and through and is not shy about telling anyone who’ll listen, proving himself an asset on the recruiting trail, as well.
Tim Scribble’s take:
The Florida State commit has made it known on the field that he deserves to be in the conversation for the top player in the 2022 recruiting class. Oh, and he’s not shy about letting you know off the field either.
What Travis Hunter did during his junior year at Collins Hill is nothing short of old school Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl. He didn’t just impact his team’s 15 games this season, he dominated them.
On defense, Hunter pulled down eight interceptions, one which he took to the house for a touchdown. He also tacked on 51 tackles from his defensive back position. But, cornerback, the position he is listed at in recruiting rankings isn’t the only spot on the field where Hunter was a star.
On the offensive side of the ball, the future Seminole recorded 1,746 receiving yards to go along with an eye-popping 24 receiving touchdowns. 24. His receiving stats are better than the top wide receivers in the 2021 class, players a full year older. Hunter did all of this while playing in Georgia’s 7A high school classification, the highest in the state, and one of the toughest classes in the nation.
Four star quarterback AJ Duffy
Duffy has very graceful feet in the pocket. What do I mean by that? He is very light on the balls of his feet while dropping, moving, and throwing in the pocket. This is a sign of a comfortable quarterback but also one that can manipulate space while keeping his eyes down field. You see Duffy bouncing in his stance while going through reads and this is a very good thing.
His release is fluid, quick and natural. There will not be much work to do on his release when he gets to college. I would like to see his elbow come up a little bit to ensure the ball doesn’t sail. The ball comes out quick though and that’s a positive. We discuss in the video about his base and why at times he has a soft front. This soft front impacts his delivery and is something that will be worked on when he gets to college.
While Duffy is not being asked to scan and read the entire field he is asked to read defenders on some single read throws. Duffy displays the ability to read a single defender and throw off of him which is a good start as a sophomore. The spread offense has removed much of the two or three reads for a quarterback but you can see the potential on Duffy’s tape. This all translates nicely into Mike Norvell’s offense.
Five star wide receiver Kevin Coleman
Coleman is perhaps the most exciting prospect FSU is after in the return game, and he shows great hands and an ability to turn a short catch into a long gain. He accelerates into his top gear very quickly and often hits his routes at close to top speed. Coleman is unafraid to go across the middle and make tough catches, and his knowledge of the game allows him to find soft spots and seams to exploit defenses. He’s mentioned that the Alabama Crimson Tide hold a slight edge right now, but he’s still open in his recruitment.
Five star offensive lineman Julian Armella
Armella holds a rating of 94 (4-star) in the 247 Sports composite ranking and is considered the 137th best player in the nation (14th best OT and 16th best player in Florida). A Seminole legacy, Armella holds nearly 40 scholarship offers from a who’s who in college football. He is currently believed to have a top four consisting of the Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU Tigers, Miami (FL) Hurricanes, and Florida State in no particular order.
Editor’s note: 247Sports has suggested Armella’s favorites stand between the Seminoles and the Tigers.
How can you not love and root for a kid on the OL who models himself after Anthony freakin’ Munoz? Armella is a starter the second he sets foot on campus. He’s the anchor on the OL for 3 years with potential to be a team captain, after which he is a first round draft pick. He leaves FSU as one of the best OL ever to put on the uniform, in the discussion as THE best. (This is all assuming health isn’t negatively impacted, obviously).
I try not to use hyperbole when I talk about kids because there’s way too much of it in recruiting already, but that’s how highly I think of Armella. I’ve planted my flag and will not move off this hill. Julian Armella is the most important recruit that FSU needs to land in the last decade.