The past few months have been an interesting period for defensive lineman Ayobami Tifase. It looked like he was set to be a member of the 2023 class with the goal to join a college program in January. Instead, the process has been accelerated and Tifase is expected to enroll at his destination of choice this week.
Over the last few days, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, and Florida State have all hosted Tifase for official visits. UConn is also on his top list after the Huskies were the first school to extend him a scholarship.
"I just was ready to go into next year and play football for the 2023 class and come in midway [January]. I was very happy but very scared," Tifase said to NoleGameday's Dustin Lewis. "The fact that I have these four schools, what am I going to pick in this short amount of time? It's very scary but I feel like I have the right people around me and the right knowledge about this place and every other place for me to really know."
The Seminoles landed the final official visit from Tifase prior to his decision. The coaching staff made an impact during his 48 hours in Tallahassee.
"Florida State is awesome," Tifase said. "I met some really good people, made some very good connections with these people. Odell Haggins is definitely an awesome man so it was definitely fun."
Defensive line coach Odell Haggins has been running point on this recruitment for Florida State. Haggins and Tifase communicate basically every day and that relationship helped kindle the fire that led to the official visit taking place.
"Me and coach Odell have had a relationship since he first offered me. He never let go of communications," Tifase said. "We talk probably twice a day every day. It's been a major turnaround. The more they kept recruiting me made me more interested to come here and visit to see what they have to offer to me and what I have to offer to them. It looked like we connected on that and I love them.
Coach Haggins told Tifase more about the community around Florida State while also making it clear that the Seminoles need him. The veteran coach expressed that Tifase would have a chance to instantly compete for playing time after academically redshirting in 2022.
"He might have three guys going to the league this year and those are the guys that are about to graduate," Tifase said. "He basically wants me to come in and fill in that circle and that area. I think that's pretty dope. I think the work that I can put in at any school, what it can have for me, it's very awesome."
The Concordia Prep product also got the opportunity to meet current players such as Robert Cooper and Fabien Lovett. They had nothing but good things to say about the program and coach Haggins, as have Tifase's mentors.
"Yeah, I talked to them guys. I've never heard anything bad," Tifase said. "Even when I was home talking to my mentors. Who was Odell Haggins? Who is this guy? And everybody knows who this guy is, he's like a legend around here for some reason."
One of his favorite moments of the weekend was planting the spear at the visitor center in college town. The new experience is something that has caught a lot of recruits' eyes this offseason.
"Some of the highlights for me was experiencing the preview center. Probably the dopest thing I ever seen here," Tifase said. "It was pretty dope, doing that was amazing. Talking to coach Norvell, talking to coach Haggins, the players, fantastic. I think Florida State is on the uprise this year."
Prior to departing from campus, Tifase met with head coach Mike Norvell for nearly an hour. Tifase says Norvell's energy is similar to his own.
"Amazing guy. Is he like that every day? He's an amazing guy," Tifase said. "I trust that guy, I feel like I trust that guy. He's very energetic, wise and that's like me all the time. I love that energy."
Tifase plans to talk things over with his coach and family over the next few days before going public with a decision. Florida State is sitting in a good position following his official visit.
"Most likely in the next couple of days. I'm going to have to talk to my coach and really have to talk to everybody in my family," Tifase said. "Tell them how I loved the experience. My sister's probably a big FSU fan so I'm pretty sure she's going to enjoy the talk so pretty cool."
The 6-foot-3 1/2, 311-pound defensive lineman will be back in Tallahassee as soon as Wednesday if he elects to commit to Florida State. The Seminoles are recruiting him as an interior defensive lineman.
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