Soon after Signing Day 2008 Florida State had a rush of commitments for 2009. One of those commitments was JaJuan Harley from Rickards High in Tallahassee, FL. Even though the talented safety product is from FSU's backyard JaJuan told NoleDigest that initially he wasn't sure if he'd be a Nole when Signing Day 2009 came around.
"It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I made my commitment to FSU," said Harley. "Initially I had FSU like 3rd or 4th on my list when my recruitment started. Clemson was the favorite for me, followed by Alabama. In the end, though, the tradition that FSU has with Coach Bowden, Coach Andrews, the former players and the available playing time, I knew where I wanted to go."
"Looking back there is nothing that I'd change," continued Harley. "I committed when I did for a reason. I had the offers I wanted but I knew that FSU was where I was going to go after they started recruiting me. I really didn't want to waste my time, or anyone else's when it came to recruiting me."
Living miles from the university has allowed Harley the opportunity to pop in whenever he wanted in terms of unofficial visits. Last weekend he made his scheduled official visit, and he told NoleDigest that he was able to see some things he hadn't seen before.
"The visit was great," Harley said, "and the coaches and players really showed me a good time. Taiwan Easterling was my host. I thought we got along very well. I've been in Tallahassee for so long but it was cool going out with the players. My parents were also able to come on this visit with me. They had a real good time. We all sat down with the staff and got a chance to see how the program runs, and we got a chance to see the academic side of things. I'd say that was the highlight of the visit because I got to see the plan they have, as well as the tutoring they have set up for the players. That is something I really didn't get a chance to see on my previous visits."
Before the visit JaJuan had a few questions he needed answered. The primary question dealt with the future of current defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews and how it would play a role on Harley's future. After the visit he says he feels very good with the plan set in place at FSU.
"The biggest thing I wanted to find out from the visit was how long Coach Andrews was going to stay," explained Harley. "He guaranteed me one more year, and said that the rest after are questionable. I was told that were he to move on Terrell Buckley would replace him as the defensive backs coach. It'd be a loss losing Coach Andrews, but I think Terrell would be great because he knows what it takes to get to the NFL. He played for Coach Andrews, he had been around him as a coach, and he played 13 years or so in the NFL. On the visit I tried to build the relationship with him. He was surprised I am a defensive back because of my size. Some people think I am an outside linebacker because I am around 205 pounds. When I told him my 40 time he was really shocked; he did say that he was pleased that I'd be playing defensive back there."
Harley said another topic of discussion was the playing time he'd be seeing next fall for the Noles. He said he was shocked to see where he is on the depth chart already, but on the same token he knows he has to come in ready to play.
"Coach Andrews and I also talked about my position on the field," said Scout.com's 10th rated safety prospect. "When I saw that I was second string free safety and 3rd string corner I knew that I immediately had to start grinding. I have opportunities here to come in and play right away. Coach told me that they aren't just going to throw me in there without knowing what to do. He said they'll be getting me reps early and as the season goes on I'd be playing a lot more. After I sign I will be able to get the playbook so I will start studying right away. With the chance to play really early at safety I am going to turn my attention to that and focus on that. I am going to come in there and give it all I got."
A common theme with the 2009 class for FSU is the desire for them to help get the Noles back to the elite of college football. Harley feels the same way, and he thinks with the recruits coming in there should be no reason why the Seminoles can't compete by 2010.
"With the class that we have coming in," combined with the 2008 class, I feel that there is no reason why we can't get FSU back to the pinnacle by 2010," stated a confident Harley. "Over the weekend Aubrey Phillips was in town on his visit and I think he was very interested in what we're doing. It was cool hanging out with him and the other commitment over the weekend. With the talent we have, we can get back. Those who say Florida is the team, I say FSU isn't too far behind. We have to take back that rivalry because I am tired of hearing about them. I feel that by 2010 FSU will have another title."
On Monday JaJuan was visited by FSU head coach Bobby Bowden. After a great one-on-one discussion on his official Harley says the two talked more about the future at FSU.
"On the visit Coach Bowden and I had a one-on-one talk," said Harley. "He told me that he couldn't believe the talent in FSU's backyard this year. He said that usually they have to go all around to get this many players on this level. He said where I'm physically means there is no chance for a redshirt and that I am coming to help right away. Today (Monday) he came by the school. He gave me a little bit of a history lesson, and we talked about the future at FSU. It was really cool having him come to see me at my school."
Even though JaJuan will get a chance to see the field very early at FSU, he says he feels no pressure or nerves. He understands college is a whole other level and that it's going to take twice the work to get to where he wants to be.
"I don't feel any pressure knowing that they are going to depend on me early on," said Harley. "It's a big opportunity for me and I can't let the coaches or myself down. I'm going to work harder than I ever did because I am going to have to play harder than I ever did. I want number 24 because I am going to be grinding 24 hours a day when I get there."
With his visit over with JaJuan is all set to sign with FSU. February 4th is a day of accomplishment for Harley, and he looks at it as a day he's been working towards since the 9th grade.
"National Signing Day is going to be a day of accomplishment for me," Harley said," because so many have doubted me and my ability to make it. When I sign that paper it'll show that I did it! I was actually able to make it happen."
JaJuan told NoleDigest that he is all set academically as he has a 2.6 GPA and an 18 on his ACT.
Stay tuned to NoleDigest for further updates with JaJuan and the rest of the 2009 recruiting class for FSU.