Dustin Hopkins eased a lot of fan's concerns over the summer when he committed to Florida State. The Clear Lake star entered the season as the nation's top placekicker for the 2009 recruiting class as many feel he has one of the strongest legs a kicker has had over the past few years. Over the weekend Hopkins made his long anticipated visit as the Seminoles took on their archrival Florida Gators. Even though the Noles lost in ugly fashion, Dustin said he had a great time.
"The official visit was great," said Hopkins, "and I had a good time in Tallahassee. I'm glad I got to come in for this game and be apart of the big game atmosphere. I was at the Tennessee-Chattanooga game earlier this year. While the game was fun I knew this game wasn't going to be like that; it was going to be a lot better."
Hopkins has been to Florida State a few times since his commitment, but this past weekend's official is what he was really looking forward to. Before the visit Dustin said that he wanted to see FSU and Tallahassee during a big game, and after he said that that goal was achieved.
"I've been looking forward to this visit for a long, long time," states Hopkins. "I knew it was going to be a fun trip and knowing I was coming down made losing in the playoffs a little better. Not much, but it made me feel good. The biggest difference that I saw over the weekend was the atmosphere. I got to see what the town was like and how the fans were during a big game like this. Everyone was so nice and easy to get along with. Knowing I can be comfortable there and that the players are all good guys makes it easier to know I'll be going to college 11 hours away. Tallahassee's landscape is great and the overall atmosphere is fun. It's a lot quainter then I thought it'd be."
"Before my commitment and during my unofficials my family and I looked into the academic side of things so I knew all about all of that with FSU," continued Hopkins on the importance of him getting a chance to see the atmosphere over the weekend. "I got all of my questions answered; I didn't have many but I saw everything over the weekend that I needed to see."
Dustin has built a great relationship with the Seminole coaching staff, especially with recruiting coordinator James Coley. Being in town over the weekend allowed Hopkins another opportunity to hang out with the coaches.
"I saw all of the coaches and spent most of my time with Coach Coley," explained Hopkins. "I also took the time to spend with Coach Allen because he is my position coach. I love all of the coaches there because they make me feel at home when I am there. That makes this decision even better. I was pleased spending time with them. I had a good time and my family had a good time."
Hopkins' player-host during the visit was All-American candidate Graham Gano. Gano is someone who Dustin has built a good relationship with. Spending time with Gano helped make this visit a success for Hopkins.
"Graham was my host," said Hopkins. "He is a great guy. I got to meet his family, friends and girlfriend while I was there. I look at him as someone I can learn from. His talent shows on the field as he's probably going to win the Groza award. For me that puts some pressure on me because I will be following him, but I want that because it will force me to perform up to his standards."
"Over the visit I got to spend time with him and hung with him a lot," continued Hopkins on what he did on his visit. "We played some ping-pong at his girlfriend's house and went out after that. It was cool seeing the players off the field. I also got to meet Myron Rolle which was cool. That was something that I wanted to do when I was there."
The camaraderie of the 2009 class is often discussed due to the fact that the majority of the commitments have made it a point to stay in touch with each other. Over the weekend Hopkins spent some time with several of FSU's commitments. He told NoleDigest that after the game the overall sentiment was that they'll be the one's who help FSU turn the tide over their hated rivals.
"I talked a lot with Rodney Smith, who stayed at the Doubletree like me, and I talked to Jacobbi McDaniel and Bryan Stork," said Hopkins. "I also spent a lot of time with Lonnie Pryor and Demonte McAllister, and I talked to some of the guys who were in town visiting. All of them were all pretty cool guys. After the game we all talked about how we need to come in and change the outcome of the FSU/UF rivalry. We'll see how it all unfolds but there's a lot of motivation there for us."
Looking back Hopkins says the visit was a rousing success even though the Noles lost a tough game. Dustin says that he may make another trip to Tallahassee next month if everything lines up.
"I'd give this visit a 9 overall because the score of the game," joked Hopkins. "That's not what I wanted to see because I thought they could do it (beat UF). I am thinking about making an unofficial visit over banquet weekend because guys like Lonnie will be making their official visit, but it all depends on the travel plans over the Holidays and all that. I'm not going to be playing soccer this year because I don't want to risk injury. I do think I will run track though so I can add some mass to my lower body and keep those fast-twitch muscles healthy. FSU wants me to come in a do the kicking when I get there. I know I will have to work hard to earn it, but I am confident that I can come in there and help the team next year."
Stay tuned to NoleDigest as we track the rest of Dustin's senior season, as well as the rest of the commitments to FSU's 2009 recruiting class.