With awards season in full swing, it’s only fitting to take a look back at the 2012 Florida State football season. There were ups, there were downs, but all-in-all it was a pretty successful campaign for the boys in Tallahassee. Yes, we all know that the Noles lost to a mediocre-at-best NC State team on the road. FSU fans are also well aware that their beloved Noles were given a prison-style beating at home to their arch nemesis, Florida. (I promise you, it was purely unintentional that I mentioned the Gators and prison in the same sentence) In the end, the Noles finished with a 12-2 record, their first ACC championship since 2005, an Orange Bowl victory and a Top 10 finish. Since head coach Jimbo Fisher took over for the legendary Bobby Bowden prior to the 2010 season, the Seminoles have consistently improved, culminating with the success of the 2012 season. There is still more work to be done, and the challenge now for Fisher and FSU is to maintain that success in 2013 and beyond. Mark your calendars, the 2013 Garnet and Gold Spring Game is April 13.
Offensive Player of the Year
Chris Thompson – SR – Running Back
It’s not often that a player missing the final six games of the season is named the MVP of anything. Chris Thompson was not just any player for the Seminoles in 2012. Before a season ending ACL injury in the Miami game, Thompson was on a tear (no pun intended), racking up 687 yards and 5 TDs. Thompson was well on pace to become FSU’s first 1000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn. His explosiveness would be missed for the remainder of the year, and the offense was never quite the same without him. The Noles finished with negative yardage in a win at Virginia Tech, and could never get the running game going against rival Florida. Thompson’s most impressive performance came against Wake Forest, when the senior rushed for 197 yards and 2 TDs on just 9 carries. He will be missed.
Offensive Newcomer of the Year
Cameron Erving – SO(RS) – Offensive Tackle
You couldn’t tell by looking at him, but before the 2012 season, Cameron Erving had never played offensive tackle before in his life. Erving lined up on the defensive side of the ball upon arriving in Tallahassee for his freshman season in 2010. After the 2011 season, Erving pulled the ultimate team-player move and selflessly switched positions after meeting with coach Jimbo Fisher. At 6’6 and 300 pounds, the resdhirt sophomore is a freak athlete who excelled at his new position. With a season of playing tackle under his belt and still two years left to develop, Erving has an unlimited ceiling on a Seminole offensive line.. It’s safe to say that offensive lineman make a pretty good chunk of change in the NFL, and Erving has the potential to make some dough at the next level. For now, he’ll anchor a strong FSU line that looks to dominate in 2013.
Defensive Player of the Year
Bjoern Werner – JR – Defensive End
The Terminator in pads. Werner has been a force for the FSU defense since he arrived in Tallahassee, and I’m sure opposing ACC quarterbacks are glad to see him go. Werner finished the season with 13 sacks, 42 total tackles, 8 pass deflections and a fumble recovery. Werner received a ton of attention from opposing offensive lines, especially after FSU’s other top defensive end, Brandon Jenkins, went down with a season ending injury early in the year. “Von Striker,” as Werner is known on campus, boosted his draft stock and impressed NFL scouts with a very successful 2012 season. He decided to forgo his senior campaign at FSU and enter the 2013 NFL Draft, where he is currently projected as a high first-round pick. Not bad for a German exchange student who played only two years of high school football in the United States. Unlike Arnold in The Terminator, Werner won’t be back.
Defensive Newcomer of the Year
Ronald Darby – FR – Cornerback
The Freshman All-American speedster made the most of an opportunity during his first season at cornerback for the Seminoles. With the pre-season dismissal of starting senior corner Greg Reid, Darby was called into the rotation with sophomore Nick Waisome. While his stats aren’t mind-blowing, (22 total tackles and 8 pass break ups) his contributions to the Seminole pass defense and ability to step up as a freshman give Darby the top spot for Defensive Newcomer of the Year. FSU is absolutely loaded in the secondary for the 2013 season, and I fully expect Ronald Darby to be a huge playmaker for the Noles. The secondary is starting to look like a throwback to the dominating Seminole D’s of the 90’s. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt comes from Bama and the Saban tree, and must be salivating at the chance to coach one the most frightening defensive back units in the country. SEC defense? Nah. FSU defense.
Special Teams Player of the Year
Dustin Hopkins – SR – Kicker
Hopkins came to FSU as the #1 rated kicker in the country and left as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer for kickers. In his four year career as a starter for the Seminoles, Hopkins accounted for 466 total points, nailing 88 field goals and 202 extra points. With his trademark gold spray-painted shoes and knack for clutch kicking performances, Hopkins earned the nickname “The Golden Toe.” In 2012, Hopkins connected on 25 field goals, the most of his career. He also added 65 extra points and holds the sixth longest streak in NCAA history with 145 successful PAT attempts.
Golden Spear Award (Given to a departing senior for their impact on the program)
EJ Manuel – SR – Quarterback
When EJ Manuel arrived on campus in 2008, the Noles were coming off back-to-back 7-6 season and were a shell of their former dominating selves. Fast-forward to 2012, the Seminoles are 12-2 with an ACC championship and a victory in the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl. Manuel led the 2012 Noles to 12 wins for just the third time in school history while becoming just the second player in college football history to win four consecutive bowl games. He was the first recruit Jimbo Fisher reached out to when Fisher arrived at Florida State as offensive coordinator 2007. Throughout his career, Manuel stepped up in big game situations, filling in for an injured Christian Ponder when needed and providing solid depth at the position.
After Ponder’s departure in 2011, the reigns were handed to Manuel as “the guy” at Florida State. Manuel threw for 3,392 yards and 23 TDs while adding 4 rushing TDs during his senior season. His 3,392 yards were second most in school history, behind only 2000 Heisman winner Chris Weinke. Manuel went 25-6 as a starter, won the first BCS bowl for Florida State since 2000 and won five out of six games against rivals Miami and Florida. He also led the offense to its most prolific season in team history, slightly edging the 1999 National Championship squad with 6,591 yards. He leaves Florida State as the most proficient passer in school history. Manuel’s contributions, along with the rest of this senior class, helped set the foundation for Florida State to return to national prominence once again.
Best Game of the Season
#4 FSU 49 – #10 Clemson 37. ABC prime time showdown. Rivalry game.
ESPN College Gameday in town. Classic.
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Worst Game of the Season
17-16 loss at NC State
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Here’s a look back at the Best of 2012:
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