Dustin Hopkins' senior season went about as well as he could expect. The Clear Lake High product watched as his team lost a heartbreaker last week in an 2nd round overtime loss. While he is widely considered as the top kicker in the nation, and that is what he's known for, Hopkins also played cornerback for his team this season.
"I've been good," said Hopkins, "but our team got knocked out of the playoffs last weekend. We lost in overtime in the second round after we had a shot to win. Overall the season was a success for us. I also played corner and had 3 interceptions and 5 pass break-ups. As far as kicking I did well. I'm not sure but if I had to guess I'd say 90% of my kickoffs were touchbacks this year. When it came to placekicking I kicked off a tee that I shaved down to a small piece of rubber so my holder could have a place to put the ball."
Dustin made an unofficial visit earlier in the season when the Seminoles took on Tennessee-Chattanooga. The environment this weekend is going to be much, much more electric as the Gators are in town. For Hopkins that is something that he is eager to see.
"I decided to go ahead and take my official this weekend," explained Hopkins. "As far as Florida State goes I'm sold on them so it's not like anything is going to change. I want to see the big game atmosphere this weekend and see how the coaches and players react to it. I have a feeling it is going to be electric. I also hope that Graham Gano is my host. We've stayed in contact and talk when we can. He is a real cool guy."
Even though Hopkins has been committed since the summer, schools still have been contacting him. Dustin told NoleDigest that FSU has done an excellent job recruiting him and that he looks forward to seeing Coach Coley and Coach Allen this weekend.
"I'm happy I get a chance to see and hang out with Coach Coley and Coach Allen," stated Hopkins. "They are good guys and they still send me letters all the time which makes me feel appreciated. Coach Coley and I talk about everything; he is very excited for me to get their next year."
Dustin plans on brining a whole bunch of people with him this weekend as family and friends will be watching the game in full force. One thing Hopkins made a point in saying was that he cannot wait to catch up with the commitments and fellow recruits in attendance.
JaJuan Harley has been as advertised this fall for his Rickards team. The 4-star safety on Scout.com played the role of an athlete this year for his squad as he lined up at quarterback, wide receiver, running back, cornerback and safety, as well as serving as the team's primary kick returner. His tenacity for the game is well known as he loves playing the game of football. That same desire to be the best and help his team in every way possible also nearly put him out of commission for good as he suffered a major head injury a few weeks ago.
"Against Trinity Catholic I had symptoms of a head injury as I had a headache and blurred vision," said Harley of the injury. "I was injured in the fourth quarter of that game when I was running the ball. I took a double helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked me silly. When I got up I was seeing dots and my head was spinning. After the game I couldn't walk, I had nausea and I didn't feel right."
"Over the weekend I relaxed and sucked it up to get ready for the game we had that next Monday," continued Harley. "I wanted to suck it up. In the 1st half I took another hit to the head that really shook me up. I saw the film from that game; I didn't know where I was after and it looked like I was drunk. My head was killing me but I kept playing. The final straw was when I was rolling out for a pass when I got horse collared down right on top of my head. It didn't help that a teammate landed on me. That hit knocked me out. I blacked out for a few minutes when I was laying on the ground. When I came to I couldn't feel anything from my neck down for a minute but was able to walk off the field."
After the game JaJuan went to the doctor, and it was then when he got the news that he had some swelling in his brain from all of the hits he took. If he had played in his team's final game recently there's a chance that Harley could have killed himself.
"Man it was scary," said Harley. "The doctor told me I had a swollen brain and that he wanted me to sit for a while. I felt a lot of pulling and pressure inside my skull. At times it hurt so bad I couldn't open my eyes. The doctor told me had I played the last game for Rickards there was a chance I could have killed myself."
"This past Monday I had my follow-up visit, and things went well," said Harley as he talked about the injury. "When I went there initially he told me to close my eyes and stand still. I couldn't and I fell backwards. Monday I did just fine. I'm cleared now but he wants me to take it easy. I'm just chilling now, but I want to get back into training for track. I doubt I'll play basketball this year so I can avoid the contact."
There may some question on how the severe concussions will play into his future. That was a concern Harley and his family had, also. According to the doctor the injury shouldn't have any affect to his future. For JaJuan, the whole experience was definitely a learning experience.
"The doctor told us that my future isn't in jeopardy or anything," said Harley. "Had I played it would have been a whole different story. The whole ordeal was a learning experience for me. It is okay to be tough, but I now have learned I need to be smart. I have a lot riding on me and I need to think more about this kind of stuff and how it affects me and my family."
With the whole ordeal behind him JaJuan told NoleDigest that is extra amped up for the rivalry game this weekend. He says he's been in constant contact with the coaches and that they now have come to a final decision on where he'll play when he arrives at FSU in the summer.
"This game is going to be exciting," expressed Harley. "This is the second time I will be seeing FSU in a big rivalry game. Last year I saw the Miami game but this one is it. I can't wait to be apart of it next year. I was talking to Coach Andrews recently and he was telling me how they want me to run track and all that. That's something I will look at this weekend and talk to them about. He also told me its set in stone that I will be playing corner for them, but also I will slide over to safety if needed. They want a big corner and they like me there. They told me they want me at 205 when I report in the summer. I feel pretty good about that decision. The game is going to be faster but I think I showed people this summer that I can do it. I think them seeing me at corner over the summer made that decision easier for them. Coach Fisher also told me that he wants me to be a kick returner for them from day one."
When you talk to JaJuan you can sense the excitement he has when it comes to the future of the Seminole program. He feels that this weekend could be the start of something special for years to come.
"I've been watching the Noles on TV when I haven't visited," explained Harley. "I think this weekend we are going to surprise some people. Florida better be ready. You look at that team and see how young they are. The quarterback isn't a freshman, but he is when it comes to game experience. He'll get better. But you see what's on the field and what will be the future is going to be of domination."
JaJuan says that he isn't sure when he'll take his official visit, but he plans on talking to his family soon about it. Stay tuned to NoleDigest for follow-up interviews with Dustin and JaJuan, as well as all of the visitors in town this weekend.