Florida State is 3-0 for the first time since 2015 and the program is showing true progress under third-year head coach Mike Norvell. The Seminoles are doing exactly what they needed to do to get their foot in the door for some of the top prospects in the country.
In 2020 and 2021, FSU dominated the offseason before falling short on the field. This year, the 'Noles have stepped up in big moments and made plays at crucial times to stay undefeated.
Prior to a week 4 home contest against Boston College, the coaching staff has an opportunity to get a couple of wins on the recruiting trail.
2023 linebacker Blake Nichelson and 2023 wide receiver Hyeem Williams are both set to announce their decisions this week. Florida State has been involved with each player for quite some time.
Nichelson will commit on Tuesday, September 20 at 9:30 p.m. eastern between FSU, Oregon, and UCLA. The Seminoles have been the rumored favorite for quite some time but the Ducks are making a late push in this recruitment. Oregon hosted Nichelson for an unofficial visit during its 41-20 over BYU on Saturday.
Florida State is trying to close things out before the California native decides tonight. General Manager of Personnel, Darrick Yray, and linebackers coach Randy Shannon are leading the charge for the Seminoles. Yray is from the same area as Nichelson and has been attached at the hip with the four-star linebacker during his visits to Tallahassee. Shannon has also developed a close relationship with Nichelson.
Mike Norvell has been pretty involved as well which is something Nichelson took note of during his multi-day unofficial visit to Florida State at the end of July.
"A lot of head coaches, they just talk to you a couple times, not really involved with you," Nichelson said to NoleGameday's Dustin Lewis. "I've noticed him, as a head coach, he's very involved with everybody and the recruits and kind of just there for you."
A big factor for Nichelson is going to a school where he feels comfortable around the people and the environment. He's looking for a situation where he can be developed and play to his strengths.
“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 also plays running back at the high school level. He's recorded 10 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble, and 3.5 sacks on defense while adding 54 rushes for 872 yards and ten touchdowns along with 9 catches for 164 yards and four more scores on offense.
Nichelson is regarded as the No. 132 overall prospect, the No. 11 LB, and the No. 11 prospect in the state of California in the 2023 class according to 247Sports.
Williams will announce his decision a few days later on Friday, September 23 at 2:25 p.m. eastern between Florida State, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Georgia, Miami, and Alabama. The three schools with the most momentum appear to be the Seminoles, Aggies, and Panthers.
The Florida native traveled to New Orleans to watch Florida State defeat LSU in the Caesars Dome. He was also in attendance for Pittsburgh's home loss to Tennessee on September 10 and Texas A&M's win over Miami last weekend. The Aggies pushed hard but Williams left College Station without committing.
The Seminoles have given themselves a legitimate shot to land Williams after displaying an improved passing attack and success on the field, something he's said in the past he wanted to see from Florida State.
Norvell and wide receivers coach Ron Dugans both have good relationships with Williams and his family. Plus, true freshman linebacker Omar Graham Jr. is one of his former high school teammates and friends. He likes how genuine the coaching staff has been in their approach, something he detailed during a multi-day visit at the end of the summer.
"They're just real. All the coaches, they're real, they ain't going to lie," Williams said to NoleGameday's Dustin Lewis. "Then like, Florida State, the whole staff, the players, they're all working for one thing and they're going to put in the work."
Those connections will be essential to Florida State's chances of landing Williams. His relationship with the coaches and players at his school of choice and being comfortable will make the difference in his decision.
"Having that connection with whoever I choose. Being comfortable," Williams said. "Having a great relationship with coaches, players. Making sure that I've actually been there and I'm comfortable there instead of in conversations."
Based on conversations with those familiar with the decision, it's expected that Williams will keep things close to the vest leading up to his announcement. He doesn't plan to inform coaching staff's of where he'll be committing before Friday. They'll have to tune into the live stream like everyone else.
This recruitment won't be over once Williams does choose a school. It's possible that he visits Texas A&M and Alabama as the season goes on. Williams has an official visit scheduled to Tallahassee on Friday, November 25 when the Seminoles take on the Florida Gators. He'll be at Florida State for an unofficial visit prior to that, likely when the team plays Clemson in October.
Norvell and Dugans were in Fort Lauderdale to watch Williams' game during Florida State's BYE week. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide receiver caught 40 passes for 750 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. He's regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect, the No. 5 WR, and the No. 6 recruit in the state of Florida in the 2023 class according to 247Sports.
The additions of Nichelson and Williams would move Florida State from No. 22 to No. 15 in the team rankings for the 2023 class.
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