The second annual Seminole Showcase featured around 100 recruits across a multitude of classes. Though the event only netted Florida State one commitment on the day in 2024 safety CJ Heard, the Seminoles generated sizable momentum to grow their 2023 class during the fall.
One prospect to keep an eye on is rising senior linebacker Blake Nichelson. The four-star defender and his family unofficially visited Florida State for four days to conclude July. Prior to departing, Nichelson provided an update on where things stand after experiencing Tallahassee for the second time this summer.
"I think basically the highlight was getting to meet some more recruits and commits that are my age," Nichelson said to NoleGameday's Dustin Lewis. "Also, more players overall and getting more of a feel for Florida State. Overall, it was a great process."
The Seminoles began fall practice last week. Nichelson's multi-day trip happened to coincide with practice and he was spotted on the sidelines at two different sessions with General Manager of Personnel, Derrick Yray. He spent time focusing on the linebackers and the team as a whole.
"Definitely their intensity. I really liked the intensity and how the practice was set it up," Nichelson said. "It was a great practice to me. Some places, I don't really like the practice structure but here that was something that stood out to me."
The California native officially visited Florida State in June. It was the first time he had ever been in the state of Florida, let alone Tallahassee. This return trip allowed him to see more of the campus and the city to get a feel for where he could possibly spend his college career.
“I got to go more around campus to see more stuff around there, and then around college town. I kind of got to explore more of Tallahassee itself," Nichelson said. "Just getting to know the place more outside of just the school and just football, and kind of just seeing where I could be going for the next four to five years.”
A couple of current Florida State commits including defensive tackle KJ Sampson, defensive end Keldric Faulk and offensive tackle Lucas Simmons spent time with Nichelson during the Seminole Showcase. Nichelson was getting feedback on the Seminoles from the trio.
"I kind of got to talk to them, just see how they like Florida State and really what got them to commit here," Nichelson said. "Building those relationships like that are really important to me because those are the people, if I was to go here, that I would be playing with."
Nichelson spent the majority of the visit around head coach Mike Norvell, defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, linebackers coach Randy Shannon, and General Manager of Personnel Darrick Yray. He likes how involved Norvell has been during the process. That's something unique he's noticed about the head coach.
"A lot of head coaches, they just talk to you a couple times, not really involved with you," Nichelson said. "I've noticed him, as a head coach, he's very involved with everybody and the recruits and kind of just there for you."
The people are what makes the Seminoles stand out to Nichelson. He was surprised when Florida State fans recognized him around town while he was on his visit.
"I feel like the people around FSU, honestly, or just around town. Like I got recognized by some people, and that has never happened to me," Nichelson said. "Especially being this far from my hometown. Getting recognized by FSU fans in general is just different. You can just tell the people are different.”
The Manteca High School product is moving towards a decision. He's going to think things over and speak with his family before releasing a commitment date. Nichelson is trying to get it done before his senior season begins.
"I'm going to take the next couple days off of recruiting, kind of just think about everything, all aspects," Nichelson said. "I'll probably end up sending a date for when I'm going to make my decision."
Florida State, Oregon, and UCLA remain the top three programs vying for Nichelson's pledge. Wisconsin recently offered and is trying to make up some ground but it might be too late. A big factor for Nichelson when looking at a program where he'll spend an important part of his life is the people around it.
“I feel like there’s a couple of factors, like the people. It’s mainly the people because coaches will go other places just like that, and if you have those people around you like the fans and friends, all of that," Nichelson said. "That’s a big factor because they are going to be the ones that will be with you the entire way through. Then basically wherever is going to be the best for me and my career, like wherever I'm going to thrive and get developed to be the best player I can be.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound linebacker is regarded as the No. 242 overall prospect, the No. 18 LB, and the No. 16 prospect in the state of California in the 2023 class according to 247Sports.
Florida State holds ten verbal commitments which rank as the No. 46 class in the country according to 247Sports.
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