First Seminole Indian to Suit Up for FSU

Justin Motlow is a senior at Tampa Catholic High School and he has just accepted a preferred walk-on spot at Florida State. Sources believe that when he joins the team in the fall, he’ll become the first member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to play football for the Seminoles of FSU.

“I would have for sure thought somebody would have been before me,” Motlow said. “It’s really crazy.”

His father, Clarence, is half-Seminole and grew up living in thatched huts without electricity or plumbing. His family moved from one reservation in Immokalee to Big Cypress to Hollywood, when the groves or fields or ranches needed workers.

“When you’re a kid, you don’t know that you have no money,” his father said. “You just have a blast because you get to play in the woods and run around with your grandfather hunting and selling alligator hides.”

By the time Justin was born, things were different. The Motlows had moved off the reservation. No one cared that Justin was only one-fourth American Indian, or that his mother wasn’t a Seminole at all.

Motlow always rooted for FSU football. He bought Seminole hats and T-shirts, and has a football signed by former coach Bobby Bowden.

But Motlow doubted he would ever play there. Even when FSU was among the 20-plus colleges recruiting him after he caught seven touchdowns and exceeded 679 yards as a junior.

The recruiting interest died down after he separated his shoulder at the start of spring practice and missed two months of evaluations.

Motlow hoped a strong senior season might get the coaches calling again. He put up even better numbers than the year before, leading the Class 3A state semifinalists with over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

But, on national signing day, Motlow had no scholarship offers and two options: take a preferred walk-on spot at FSU or one at Wake Forest. The choice was obvious.

“I think things happen for a reason,” his mother said.

Motlow won’t be on scholarship next year at Florida State, but the Seminole Tribe will pay his tuition as long as he keeps his grades up.

His preferred walk-on status means he’s promised one of the 105 spots on the defending national champions’ roster and that means a lot to the Motlow family.

For more on this story visit: Matt Baker, Tampa Bay Times