Nine official visitors made it to Tallahassee over the weekend to check out Florida State, including four-star linebacker Jaron Willis. Though he committed to Georgia Tech in May, Willis actually grew up a fan of the Seminoles.
The visit gave him a chance to step on the field inside Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time.
“Honestly, I think that the experience was a dream come true because I grew up a Florida State fan,” Willis said. “Having the opportunity to step into Doak Campbell Stadium for my first time on the field and everything has been a blessing so far.”
FSU has been recruiting Willis for well over a year since offering him back in April 2020. He finally was able to meet the staff in person on this trip.
“They gave me the same energy as when I was on the phone with them,” Willis said. “You can tell the excitement they have when they talk to me and it was just amazing how they gave me the same energy. It showed me how much of a priority I am for them.”
While on the visit, Willis was able to go on a tour of campus with the other recruits. One of the unique things that stood out to him was seeing the Integration Statue.
“I really didn’t know they had a black history statue in the middle of campus,” Willis said. “We actually went to go see it during our campus tour. It was pretty dope to have that even though FSU isn’t an HBCU. They’re acknowledging different cultures and different ways, just seeing that sculpture, it was heartwarming. They’re not even an HBCU, they didn’t even have to do that so seeing that caught my attention.”
The Georgia native spent time with current players Amari Gainer and Jammie Robinson while at FSU. Willis has developed a friendship with Gainer and he actually played with Robinson for a season in high school before the latter signed with South Carolina.
“I speak to Amari [Gainer] and Jammie [Robinson] the most,” Willis said. “Having their opinion about FSU and the way things are going there, hearing them talk to me about coach Norvell and their defensive coaching staff, it was just amazing. They gave me an opportunity to sit down and talk with them. They showed me a lot of love and what I can be at Florida State.”
Willis also got an opportunity to hang around the coaching staff for the majority of the time he was on campus. It’s clear to him that the Seminoles are making him a priority.
“They’re showing me how much of a priority I am and how much that they really care about me,” Willis said. “Not just being their athlete, but being a student-athlete. After college, what I can be if the NFL doesn’t work out. Showing me a lot of love and how much of a priority I am.”
“Just going to see coach Norvell’s house,” Willis continued. “That lets you know that he’s one of the coaches that you’re home with. He allows people into his house like they’re his family and in reality that is his family. That stood out to me and it showed what type of guy coach Norvell is.”
The Lee County High School product was joined by his teammate and four-star offensive lineman, Qae’Shon Sapp, who took his official visit over the weekend. While in town, Sapp made his commitment official. Now, he’s trying to get Willis to join him.
“We were talking about it and he told me that his heart was set on Florida State. He told me literally about three months ago. I really didn’t expect him to commit this early, I thought it would be July 3. When he came out, we were in our photoshoot. He just said, ‘I’m ready to commit now’ so that was a heartwarming moment. Ever since then, he started recruiting me heavy and telling me I’ve got to flip. He’s got his recruiting hat on.”
After checking out Florida State twice this offseason, Willis has learned a lot about the coaching staff and program.
“If I could put it in one word, it’s family,” Willis said. “Everything about Florida State is about family and building trust and that’s what happens when you have guys that believe in the family and coach Norvell. You’re going to have guys like this weekend just committing. What I learned from it is that coach Norvell is a great coach. He’s a people’s coach, not just a player’s coach, he’ll coach anybody. He’ll give you the same energy that he’ll give to his own son or the same energy that he gives his wife *laughs*. All around, I learned that Florida State, if it comes down to it, can be a family matter to me.”
The Seminoles have landed five commitments since Friday night and now have the No. 3 class in the country. Does the momentum have any impact on him?
“Somewhat,” Willis said. “I won’t say it’s a huge impact but it shows that Florida State has something special going on in their program. As I’m committed to Georgia Tech, I won’t say it’s an eye-opener because I know how coach Norvell works. A lot of players want to be around him and me saying that is a big compliment to coach Norvell and his staff but I’m committed to Georgia Tech.”
The next time Willis will be in town is during the fall for week one against Notre Dame. It’ll be the first time he’s ever actually attended an FSU game.
“I’ll definitely be there when they play Notre Dame,” Willis said. “This will be my first time actually going to a Florida State game. I know it’s crazy with me being a die-hard ‘Noles fan. Yeah, it’s my first time going there, watching a game up close. Getting that experience and being the little kid in me and finally going to see a ‘Noles game. I’m excited about that.”
Willis has been committed to the Yellow Jackets for nearly two months but this visit gave him a lot to think about as he moves forward.
“I still would say that this commitment is still solid for me,” Willis said. “I mean, it’s gonna be kind of hard to flip me because I’m not the type of person to see something different. I’m not gonna lie, if anything dramatic happens and I have to decommit, that’s one of the sides of the coin. As of right now, I’m solid with this commitment but I’ll still allow people to recruit me just in case anything dramatic happens.”
The 6-foot-2, 228-pound linebacker is ranked as the No. 153 overall prospect, the No. 17 LB, and the No. 16 recruit in the state of Georgia in the 2022 class.
Keep up with NoleGameday for the latest on Willis throughout the summer.
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