Ryan Hoefeld's knowledge of Doak Campbell Stadium used to be limited to a giant brick structure capable of holding tens of thousands of fans on any given Saturday.
A Seminoles commitment who pledged in early July, the 6-foot-3 center from New Orleans Brother Martin attended the Jimbo Fisher Camp during the summer and saw all the facilities. But they were empty.
Potential met reality Saturday night. Eighty-thousand-plus fans packed Florida State's stadium for a top-10 showdown between the Seminoles and the 10th-ranked Clemson Tigers.
Quite a first game to attend for anyone.
"Right when I walked on the field for the pregame warmups, my eyes were so wide," Hoefeld said. "I just couldn't believe it. It just seemed like you could feel the atmosphere. The whole game, even when they were down, the crowd never stopped. I've been to LSU games, some other games, I've never seen anything like that. I was just amazed. The goosebumps and the chills didn't leave me until about 10 minutes after the game."
No. 4 FSU fell behind in the third quarter 28-14, and doubt began to creep in some fans' thoughts. Not Hoefeld's.
He knew what the coaches were about and how well they knew the game. And just like he expected, Jimbo Fisher and company came back to win the game 49-37 for a key ACC win.
"I had no doubt in my mind," he said. "I knew they were going to go in and make adjustments, that's what great teams do. I didn't lose faith in that game for one second."
But Hoefeld's trained eye focused in on FSU's offensive line, watching and diagramming every move in his head.
"I was watching them the whole season," said the senior offensive lineman. "They have been doing well and in every game, they have been doing really good. They had a bunch of yards rushing again and those guys keep going. Coach [Rick] Trickett is proving why he is one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation."
Arriving well before kickoff, Hoefeld, along with the other recruits in attendance, got the normal tour of the stadium and the locker room. The best part, though, was the three-dimensional video of Florida State highlights -- usually a favorite of most.
"We did a little tour and I got to see the new 3D video they made for this year," he said. "It is pretty cool, I saw the last one, but they made a new one. That was my favorite part last time, was the 3D video."
Prior to opening kick, talking in-depth with coaches proves difficult. That's obvious, of course, because they are preparing to play a football game.
Still, Hoefeld, and the coaches for that matter, did the best they could to interact before and after the final whistle.
"Coach Trickett came over during the warmups and he said that he was glad I was here and all that," began Hoefeld. "He asked me if we had won the other night and stuff like that. After that, I talked to Coach [Dameyune] Craig. He talked to me and my mom for a long time after the game and he just emphasized how important I am to them and that he was glad I was there for that atmosphere."
Hoefeld's first game in Tallahassee won't be his last as a recruit. Later in the season, most likely early on in the winter, he'll be back for an official visit.
Unofficially, Hoefeld would like to come back with some of his teammates for the Seminoles' rivalry game against Florida.
"We talked about planning an official visit for December or January, and I want to come back for a game so I can spend more time with the coaches," he said. "I am trying to bring some of my friends down for the Florida game because I know it is going to be just as crazy as the Clemson game."