Florida State is looking to bring in one kicker for the 2009 recruiting class. With Graham Gano leaving after the 2008 season, that leaves freshman Shawn Powell as the only kicker on scholarship. The coaches have set their sights on Dustin Hopkins, who may be one of the best at his position for 2009. Chris Sailer of Chris Sailer kicking ranks Dustin as the number 1 kicker, and has this to say about him, "Dustin has everything it takes to be a D1A kicker. He is strong, consistent, and mentally tough. Impressive on both field goals and kickoffs and has also showed the ability to punt. He had an outstanding 6th Annual National Event, and is currently the #1 ranked kicker in the class of 2009."
Dustin's recruitment has gotten off to a good start, receiving offers from Florida State and Stanford. Dustin says that other schools are recruiting him and may offer him some time soon.
"Recruiting has been going well. I have just the 2 offers still from Florida State and Stanford. Northwestern just got into contact with me. Coach Bates seems like a really nice guy, and he was telling me one of their kickers got hurt, leading to their interest in me. LSU, Alabama, Tennessee are talking to me, and Notre Dame is coming down on the 24th to watch me. I went to USC for a visit, but I don't think they really interested. They aren't out of it yet, but they may be a school I'll look at more in the future."
Dustin was one of the many recruits in town for the Seminoles annual Garnet and Gold game. Coming into the visit many people painted a picture of FSU that was not pleasant, leading Hopkins to wonder what he was in store for. After the visit, Dustin came away extremely impressed.
"The visit to FSU was great. I was pleasantly surprised seeing how the picture people painted wasn't good. People were saying things like FSU is all thugs and all that. But after seeing it and meeting with the coaches, it is nothing like that. I like how the coaches have a great outlook on the program and the future. I'm a positive guy and the coaching staff seems like that."
"I also got to see the athletic center and the campus. My parents and I got a chance to tour the campus, which was nice. I thought Tallahassee would be a bigger city seeing how it is the state capitol, but it's big enough to always find something to do, which I liked. FSU's facilities are as good as I've seen. Some of the SEC schools go overboard with it, but with the stadium at FSU and the weightroom it is top quality."
After talking to Dustin, it is easy to see the coaches at Florida State impressed him immensely. He says the coaching staff and his relationship is a factor for him, and that is why the Seminoles are his favorite at this time.
"The coaches were very impressive. Coach Coley, Coach Fisher and Coach Amato were really cool. I thought Bobby Bowden would be tougher; more of a guy who was harder. But he seemed like a guy who was someone you could go to if you needed someone to talk to. I liked the atmosphere a lot there, and the coaches were telling me that it's even better during the regular season. The defensive coaches were telling me how they are excited about me because I would help the defense with my kicking and hurting the other team's return game."
"Coach Coley is someone that I like. One of my goals is to learn Spanish fluently, and Coach Coley is Cuban, so I thought that was cool. When we talked he was telling me why he came over to FSU and that guys often come back there because Tallahassee and FSU is a nice place to be. I also got to meet the team chaplain, which is something that is important to me. This visit put Florida State at the top of my list. All the other schools write and tell me they want me, but FSU showed it, making it feel like home. They are out front and all the other schools behind them are even."
Dustin plans on making his decision before his senior season begins. He and his parents have taken several visits over the past few months, and he isn't sure yet if he will take anymore.
"I want to make my decision before my senior year starts. I don't want my recruitment to affect my team and I want to focus on getting to the playoffs. By the end of the summer I will have my decision made. My parents and I have been all over the place visiting schools, so I am not sure if I will make anymore visits. It could go either way so I will see what happens."
Dustin came away very impressed with his visit to FSU, and some people think it made them the school Dustin will choose when he makes his final decision. Nothing is certain in recruiting, but if things stay where they are at it looks as though the Seminoles have found their kicker for the 2009 recruiting class. Stay tuned to NoleDigest for further updates with Dustin and the rest of the 2009 class.