Nov. 25, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The well-worn, late-season cliche pertaining to freshmen – that they aren’t freshmen any more – may be true, but for a trio of first-year Florida State players, Saturday’s trip to Florida carries the same excitement as a kid on Christmas morning.
Defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel and running back Lonnie Pryor were raised in Florida, so they have a real understanding of the rivalry between the programs. That, however, doesn’t mean cornerback/return specialist Greg Reid, from Valdosta, Ga., isn’t any less excited about making his first trip to The Swamp as a Seminole.
All three will play significant roles as the Seminoles try and end No. 1 Florida’s bid for a perfect season and a second consecutive national championship on its home turf.
“I’m real excited,” said Reid, who initially committed to the Gators. “Last year I went to almost all of their home games and I know how much fun it will be to play in The Swamp. I like all of the noise and everybody getting crunked with a good rivalry.”
McDaniel, who grew up in Madison, has memories of his last visit to Gainesville as a high school junior in 2007. It happened to be for the FSU game.
“Their fans really get into it,” McDaniel said. “When I left the game my ears were really hurting. To play in front of a big crowd like that is an experience.”
The annual, season-ending rivalry was very much a part of McDaniel’s youth growing up in Madison.
“That was the biggest part of football season for me,” he added. “There are players at Florida who I knew and tried to recruit to FSU. It’s a big experience. Growing up, my oldest brother is a role model to me. Every team he cheered for, I cheered for because I wanted to be like him. He was a Florida State guy and I’m a Florida State guy. I never crossed the line.”
Like McDaniel, Pryor grew up around the rivalry from his hometown of Okeechobee and also made a visit to Florida for a game.
“I just know it’s going to be loud – like real loud,” Pryor said. “It feel good to be playing there because I have a lot of friend and family that are going to be at the game cheering for me, so I’m excited.”
The excitement of the rivalry hasn’t diminished a bit for Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who would like to end the Seminoles’ five-game, series losing streak in what will likely be his final visit to The Swamp.
“It’s the 34th year I’ve played against them and of course, 17 of them have been down there,” Bowden said. “It’s really a spectacle, you know. It’s just a great game.”