Sept. 12, 2003
By Lauren Williams, FSU Sports Information
With senior deep snapper Brian Sawyer, it’s all about class. Not just the ones that he must attend at Florida State but exercising class in everything he does.
“We’ve all learned from Coach Bowden that in any aspect of life, do everything with as much class as possible,” Sawyer said. “Class predicates everything we do, on and off the field. You always want to do as much as you can to uphold the image of the university and the team.”
Perhaps it is this characteristic that prompted Coach Bowden to appoint Sawyer as a team captain, representing the special teams.
“Seeing the captains before us, the Chris Weinkes, the Corey Simons, it’s an honor,” Sawyer said. “I definitely didn’t think I’d be a captain considering I walked on my fresh-man year. I’m just taking it all in while trying to do my best. I just want to set a good example for the younger guys.”
Sawyer has already set a good example. It has been his hard work and determination that has taken him from a walk-on to a scholarship player to a captain. It also has been his love for the Seminoles. The Cordele, Ga., native has always been very familiar with Florida State and head coach Bobby Bowden because his father Bill was an offensive lineman who played for the Seminoles from 1974-76. He started at center in 1975 and handled long snapping duties during his tenure.
“My father’s senior year was coach Bowden’s first year, so I grew up coming to games,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to come here.”
Like his father, Brian was a football stand-out at Crisp County High School. He also earned four letters in basketball and one in golf. After his stellar high school career, Sawyer enrolled at Florida State in the fall of 1999 and walked on to the football team as a tight end and deep snapper. He redshirted his freshman year, working hard enough during preseason practice to earn a scholarship for the next season with the Seminoles. Since then, Sawyer has made his mark on the team. He has taken every special teams snap since the 2000 season. He has played in 39 consecutive games (every game over the last three years) and has snapped on 181 points, 166 extra point attempts and 66 field goal attempts.
“I never imagined it would work out the way it has,” he said. “Being captain puts me in a category with players like Derrick Brooks, Charlie Ward, Corey Simon, Chris Weinke – guys like that, an elite category. First, I was content with just getting here, then that wasn’t enough. Then, I wanted to start, I wanted to play. Now, lettering four years in a row – that would be an achievement in itself. It is a great accomplishment doing it here. Being a starter for four years, having a national championship ring, being able to play for coach Bowden, it is really, really, really a privilege and I am glad I got the opportunity. God has blessed me so much.”
The 2003 season is the start of a new era for Sawyer as he hopes to expand on an already impressive career with the Seminoles. He spent the preseason training camp taking snaps at center in hopes of adding depth at the position and some experience to a very young offensive line.
“With learning to play at center this year, I get to do more to help the team and help us win,” he said.
Even with all that Sawyer has contributed to the team during the past three seasons, he feels his job this year may be his most important so far. He has his sights set on helping the newest class of Seminoles get adjusted and continue the winning tradition at Florida State.
“This year, I want to do the best I can to help the two new punters adjust,” he said. “I also want to take the pressure off of Xavier Beitia to help put his mind at ease.”
While Seminole football is obviously important to Sawyer and something he takes very seriously, he doesn’t let it get in the way of his easy-going personality. He is rarely seen without a smile on his face and he always has something funny to say.
“We’re fortunate enough to just wake up every day,” Sawyer said. “God lets us get up and he gives us breath every day. Why not be optimistic? Why not make the best of it? If you are going to go through life with a frown on your face all the time and not make the best of every situation, than there’s no point in living. If you make it fun and make it a fun experience, it lightens everything up.”
Outside of football, Sawyer likes to fish, hunt and golf. Hunting season runs at the same time as football so it’s less likely that he will have time for it. As for golf, Sawyer gets to do that in between spring practices and classes. Fishing is reserved for the weekends and the summertime.
“Fishing, hunting and golf, that’s my form of meditation,” Sawyer said. “That’s where I clear my head. Nobody can talk to me. Nobody can mess with me. I don’t have a coach yelling at me and don’t have a class to go to. It’s just me doing whatever I want to. That’s how I find my peace.”
Sawyer has learned a lot from being around coach Bowden and his football program, both as a youngster looking in from the outside and as a player looking from the inside. He will take away with him all of the speeches, criticisms and comments and continue to apply them to his life.
“I’ve grown so much since my freshman season, maturing on and off the field,” Sawyer said. “More importantly, I’ve learned from coach Bowden to carry yourself like you would want to be seen.”
And what we see looks pretty good.