Botello: FSU Football Post-Season Awards Fiesta
In case you missed it, (and if you did, for some reason other than serving our country overseas or tending to a family emergency, please leave now) the Noles overcame a 21-3 deficit and play-call signal stealing to defeat Auburn 34-31 for the BCS National Championship and finally slay the $EC dragon. With awards season in full swing, it's that time of year again to honor those Seminoles who stood out during the 2013 championship run (Except our boy Jameis Winston, since he basically won every award possible with the exception of the lifetime achievement award presented to Alabama's A.J. McHandoff).
Just to recap (this never gets old):
Offensive Player of the Year Not Named Jameis Winston
RB Devonta Freeman - (Jr.)
The simple fact that Freeman became the first Nole to rush for over 1,000 since Dunn is enough alone to put him in the top spot. Freeman was one of the most dependable backs at FSU in recent memory, and the kid was a grinder with the ball in his hands (especially against his hometown Canes). The way that Freeman was able to be so productive with the rotation of backs that the Noles threw at opponents in 2013 was due in large part , I think, to his monster work ethic and field vision (the offensive line wasn't too shabby, either, allowing Freeman to rack up about eight yards per touch). It was no surprise to me a few months ago when he decided to declare for the NFL draft. While the Noles will simply reload at the running back position in 2014, Freeman's production and leadership skills will surely be missed. Kid was a baller at the college level, and was a huge reason why FSU took home the hardware in 2013.
Honorable Mention: WR Rashad Greene - (Jr.) - A 1,000 yard season for a wide receiver is pretty impressive, and Green was instrumental in helping Jameis become Famous and was the go-to receiver during FSU's title run. #80 came up huge in the national title game, and is on track to becoming one of the greatest FSU wide receivers in the history of the program. Oh yeah I almost forgot, he's coming back for his senior season....
Offensive Newcomer of the Year Not Named Jameis Winston
RB Karlos Williams - (Jr.)
After spending two seasons on the defensive side of the ball, Los made a virtually seamless transition to running back prior to his 2013 junior season. His first carry wasn't anything spectacular, just a 60-yard, basically untouched sprint to the endzone against Nevada. Los finished the season with 730 yards and 11 TD's, not too shabby for his first year as a D-1 running back. He also made one of the biggest plays of the season when he converted on a fake punt late in the second half of the BCS title game to keep the drive alive for the Noles, which would eventually lead to an FSU TD to cut it to 21-10 at the half and give the momentum back to the would-be champs. The Noles are loaded at running back for 2014, but Williams is basically a lock to be the feature back for Jimbo Fisher when fall camp rolls around. A 6'2", 220-pound rock-toter with 4.4 speed? I guess we can live with that.
Defensive Player of the Year
DB Lamarcus Joyner - (Sr.)
All Joyner did during his four year career was make big play after big play. At 5'8", the kid is not physically intimidating, but don't be fooled - he will seek and destroy, dishing out pain and punishment, and more than likely rupture a spleen or two. Joyner finished his FSU career as a consensus All-American selection, racking up 69 tackles, three forced fumbles and five-and-a-half sacks, the most of any defensive back in the nation in 2013. What will be missed most about Lamarcus Joyner isn't in the stat line - it's his leadership and character that will define him as one of the all-time great defenders to ever wear the Garnet and Gold.
Honorable Mention: DT Timmy Jernigan - (Jr.)- The soon-to-be first rounder and his alter-ego Loco Ocho were in beast mode all year long. You wouldn't like him when he's angry....
Defensive Newcomers of the Year
Freshman DB's Nate Andrews and Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey and Andrews made an immediate impact on defense for the Noles in 2013. The freshman duo combined for 84 tackles, five interceptions (four for Andrews) and two sacks on the year. Considering the level of talent on defense that the Noles fielded during the title run, the fact that two freshmen could come in and contribute tells you something about their respective skill sets (as soon as I typed that, I immediately thought of this). Unfortunately for opposing quarterbacks and receivers, the pair will be in town for at least the next two seasons to lock it down. Good luck with that.
Golden Spear Award (Given to a departing senior for their impact on the program)
LB Telvin Smith - (Sr.)
This could have easily been shared with fellow Lamarcus Joyner, but since he already won an award, I decided to spread the love. Telvin Smith made his mark as a special teams beast as a true freshman in 2010, put in work as a sophomore, was a big time contributor as a junior in 2012 until finally stepping into a starting role for the 2013 season. He finished with a team-leading 90 total tackles while also adding two sacks, three interceptions and two TD's during the 2013 championship run. Along with Joyner, Telvin stood out as a strong vocal leader both on and off the field for the Seminoles, leading by example and setting the tone for the younger, up-and-coming Noles on the roster. If Telvin Smith's dedication to the Florida State football program and ability to be the consummate team player throughout his career in Tallahassee has rubbed off on the underclassmen even a little, the Noles will be in good hands for years to come.
Game of the Year Not Played On January 6, 2014 - FSU 51, Clemson 14
October 19, 2013 - #5 FSU. #3 Clemson. Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins were supposed to be the real deal. Death Valley was supposed to break decibel records in prime-time under the lights with College Gameday in town. This was supposed to be the year that Clemson finally turned the corner and competed for the national championship. Whoops.
Play of the Year Not Made By Kelvin Benjamin
Some could argue that the Karlos Williams fake punt late in the first half turned the momentum in FSU's favor, and I would have to agree. Personally, my favorite play of the 2013 season is the Kermit Whitfield 100-yard TD return in the title game. I know, it didn't win the game, (especially since Auburn came right back and scored on the next possession) but there was just something about that moment - a freshman stepping up and taking one to the house on the biggest stage possible - that will stick with me forever. It reminded me a lot of one of my all-time favorite Noles, Peter Warrick, and his punt return against Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl that pretty much sealed the deal and brought home the national title. Kermit will be on the squad for at least two more seasons, so there will be plenty more blazing returns and TD's in his future. (Might be kind of hard to top this one, though.)