Florida State landed its potential signal-caller of the future when top-100 prospect and Elite 11 alum, AJ Duffy, committed to the Seminoles in April. With his decision out of the way, Duffy has been able to put his full focus into his senior season at IMG Academy. It's paid off so far as the Ascenders have gotten off to a 5-0 start while dominating the competition.
“It’s been a lot of fun," Duffy said to NoleGameday's Dustin Lewis. "It’s been great to get back out there since I didn’t play my junior year. A lot of fun, even the practices, competing against the best of the best every week. I feel like I’ve been getting a lot better.”
Speaking of the best of the best, IMG Academy is stacked with talent from top to bottom. Multiple offensive linemen are committed to FBS schools, they have 2023 wide receiver Carnell Tate and 2022 wide receiver Jaleel Skinner on the outside, and 2022 running back Kaytron Allen as well as 2024 running back Stacy Gage in the backfield. All of those weapons just make it easier for Duffy to go to work.
“I feel like I’ve been performing well, doing what I do," Duffy said. "Shoot, having those receivers and those guys around me, it makes my job pretty easy. I’m just trying to get them the ball, take care of the ball, and have some fun.”
The Seminoles have had some struggles out of the gate, currently sitting at 1-4 in their 2021 campaign. Duffy would love to see them do well this season but he understands that there's nothing he can do until he's on campus.
“They lost a couple of close ones," Duffy said. "It’s kind of out of my control so I just sit back and watch. It’s motivation to be better and to be as good as we can for next year because that’s all I can worry about. I want them to do a really good job this year but I can’t start to affect the team in a positive way until I’m there. My goal when I get there is to help be a part of the change.”
The California native has paid close attention to FSU's offense. While the coaching staff is running a two quarterback system with Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton right now, Duffy expects that to change once he's handed the reins.
“I like the offense a lot right now," Duffy said. "It’s been a little different with the two quarterback system so I don’t get a real glimpse of what the offense would be like if someone like me was playing. Obviously, if I was playing, there wouldn’t be two of us mixing in. I see a lot of stuff I like. I like how we’re trying to improve every week and the direction that the program is going is everything coach Norvell told me. I see the guys starting to come together, playing for each other, so it’s awesome watching that.”
There has been some worry amongst the fanbase that Tribe22 could begin to fall apart due to the slow start on the field. In recent weeks, fellow commitments such as Rodney Hill and Omar Graham have expressed their confidence that the class will stay together. Duffy echoes a similar sentiment.
“We’re all pretty much locked in," Duffy said. "Everyone that I’ve talked to, no one has wavered or anything like that. That’s dope to see that we all want to go to FSU regardless of how the season goes. We know that we can’t really control how this season is going, we can only control what we do when we get there. We kind of look at it like that.”
“I’m super confident," Duffy continued. "Once we start to win a few games and everyone sees that coach Norvell really knows what he’s talking about, coach Dillingham really knows what he’s doing, we’ll get more guys on the boat too.”
As for the four-star quarterback personally, he hasn't questioned his commitment to Florida State.
“I’m locked in all the way," Duffy said. "I haven’t wavered at all.”
One of the top prospects in the entire 2022 class, Duffy was hearing from colleges every day prior to his pledge to the Seminoles. His phone isn't blowing up nearly as much this fall because he has shut his recruitment down.
“I wouldn’t say there are any schools trying that hard [to flip him] right now at all because I kind of shut it [his recruitment] down," Duffy said. "I really just talk to Florida State guys, get a few DMs every now and then from coaches I have a personal relationship with. Other than that, no recruiting.”
Duffy had the opportunity to officially visit Florida State on September 5 for the Notre Dame. He was blown away by the atmosphere and says that Doak Campbell Stadium felt like home.
“It was just insane," Duffy said. "It doesn’t compare to any game I’ve ever been to. I’ve only been to mostly PAC-12 games, no disrespect to the PAC-12 but it just doesn’t compare at all to ACC ball. The whole atmosphere of that game was ridiculous. It was like something I’ve never seen before. It felt like home and I loved it.”
The IMG Academy product will return to Tallahassee in November to watch the Seminoles take on the Hurricanes. He does not plan to visit anywhere other than FSU.
“I haven’t thought about visiting any other schools," Duffy said. "I know I’m going to be at the FSU vs. Miami game. I’ve got that one circled."
As the Early Signing Period approaches, Duffy is finishing up his final few classes so he can graduate early. He'll sign with Florida State in December and enroll in January.
“I’m graduating early, I’m doing all of my extra classes, I’m pretty much done with those," Duffy said. "Come December, I’ll be signing with FSU and be ready to roll.”
The 6-foot-2, 203-pound quarterback is ranked as the No. 82 overall prospect, the No. 6 QB and the No. 13 recruit in the state of Florida in the 2022 class according to 247Sports.
Stick with NoleGameday for more updates on Duffy's senior season and upcoming signing with Florida State in December.
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