March 23, 2001
A LOOK AT A SPECIAL GROUP OF SENIORS
BY Rob Wilson
The Florida game has finally arrived and with it the anticipation of yet another great college football game. While the Seminoles and the Gators battle with all the lust and fury deserving an intrastate rivalry, this year’s showdown has national championship implications as have so many over the last nine years.
Tonight is significant for a number of reasons but chief among them is that it marks the end of the 2000 regular season for the Florida State Seminoles. Along with that, comes the end of Coach Bobby Bowden’s 25th season at the helm of the FSU program and, perhaps more importantly, the final home game for 28 remarkable seniors. Nearly one third of the football team will be taking the field for the last time in Doak Campbell Stadium. And it is a truly remarkable group.
Maybe the most exciting thing about this senior class is what they still could accomplish. While there is a lot of football to be played around the country, this senior class may have a chance to play for it’s third consecutive national title. But perhaps that should not come as surprise as you assess this group of seniors.
By the time the Seminoles board a plane destined for whichever bowl game they are fortunate enough to play in, 19 members of this senior class will have graduated from Florida State University. They will already have their diplomas and will already have achieved what should be the ultimate goal for any incoming student. 16 of them will have been on the Dean’s List at least once and 22 have been named to the ACC Honor Roll.
Now to the field and let’s consider just what each of these seniors has meant. If you collect the game programs, you will have read a feature story with just about all of this seniors, but taking a step back and realizing just how far they have come should make you appreciate them even more.
Just a few thoughts on each of the scholarship seniors:
BRIAN ALLEN — He had the look when he came in as a freshman from Lake City, and the frame that suggested he would one day carry the size and the strength to be great. What we’ve learned over five years is that he has the heart to make himself a champion and the leadership to pull others along with him.
JUSTIN AMMAN — Someone once asked an old offensive linemen why anyone plays the position when they get so little recognition. His answer was simple, “they wouldn’t let me play anywhere else.” There is something unique about any offensive linemen, but one with the perserverence and quiet dignity of Justin Amman should make every Seminole walk a little taller.
ROSS BRANNON — We all hope that we can watch Ross play next season at the tackle position he starred at for two seasons. He may apply for a sixth year of eligibility after his repaired knee just did not come around quick enough. Whether he plays another down or not, Ross has been a great player at Florida State and a great member of this student body. His story is one not told often enough, that of a sure NFL talent who has been slowed by injuries thrown his way by a very unforgiving sport.
JERRY CARMICHAEL — One of the most important things a teammate wants to see in another teammate’s eyes in the huddle is confidence. Few things are more contagious on a football team than confidence. Jerry Carmichael’s look always reassured everyone that they could rely on him. Unfortunately, a knee injury has also kept him off the field this year, but he too can look back at an FSU career and realize all that he has done to bring the program to destiny’s doorstep.
JEFF CHANEY — One of the most enjoyable people on the entire team to be around, Chaney has maintained a wonderful attitude when some would choose to look at the disappointment of not being a “starter.” He quickly adjusted to every special team assignment. No one plays harder than Jeff Chaney on a football field and his infectious smile always seems to make the practices move a little quicker.
— He has probably grown up more than any player on this team since his arrival at Florida State. Coronta Cody slipped down the hill from Blakely, Georgia, as a painfully shy freshman with the size that makes you wonder if he’ll ever see the field. He has started for four years at the loneliest position on the football field and has become one of the finest defensive backs in Florida State history. He has overcome personal challenges and, in the process, has learned to be a man.
KEITH COTTRELL — Florida State’s punter for the last four seasons, Keith should take a great deal of pride in the fact that he has been instrumental in the Seminole’s quest for perfection of the last four years. He was honored this year as one of the semi-finalists for the new Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter. He has been at his best when his team needed him most.
CHAR-RON DORSEY — Char-ron Dorsey probably spends more time at the Moore Athletic Center than any other player. His positive attitude and willingness to work hard convinced coaches that he would be an outstanding player. His ability to step in this year as the starter when he thought he would redshirt tells a lot about his character.
NICK FRANKLIN — While his teammates and coaches certainly include him in everything, tuck away in the back of your mind players like the starting tight end, who injured his knee and can not play the rest of his senior season. As you celebrate wins over Clemson, and bowl games, and perhaps a win over the Gators tonight. Remember Nick, he’s celebrating just as hard.
DERRICK GIBSON — Quiet unless among his closest friends, Gibson truly likes to hit people, which is an awfully good quality in the rover position. He too was forced to grow up quickly this year and has been an outstanding player for the last two years.
DONALD HEAVEN — A freshman All-American in 1997, Heaven may hold the key to FSU’s chances to make it to their third straight national title game. An injury to Tarlos Thomas moved Heaven around again along the offensive front and for the Seminoles to get where they want, he’s got to produce.
JEAN JEUNE — Imagine the audacity it must take to walk-on at Florida State. Walking on at Wyoming is one thing, but FSU. Jeune did it, stuck with it, and got his first career start three weeks ago against Clemson. He is one of the spiritual leaders of the team and a testament to how far determination can take you.
MARVIN MINNIS — Snoop breezed into Tallahassee wearing an electric blue jacket for his freshman photo. I suppose we should have known something great would come from him, but it was hard to get past the thought of his skinny frame getting broken in half. With the talent we all now see he has, imagine how tough waiting behind those greats of the last two years must have been. And imagine just how much fun he’s having now.
TRAVIS MINOR — All you need to know about him is that Coach Bowden himself admires him. Coach is not one to call out individual players too often, but he started off the very first team meeting this season by recognizing Travis. He pointed to him and reminded the team that this was “a guy who was the best running back in the country coming out of high school and he has never asked me for more carries.” Now this is from me, Travis Minor is one of the finest young men you could ever meet.
JARAD MOON — While it may look like he has the world by the tail (starting center, dates Chuck Amato’s beautiful daughter, has his degree, won the football team’s top academic award) – Okay, he does have the world by the tail. But he too went through the frustration of sitting the bench and wondering if he would ever get his chance.
MARCUS OUTZEN — Still the only man I know of who has made Coach Bowden burst into song. For most FSU fans he will forever be a hero for his effort in leading FSU to a monumental win over Florida in 1998. As tough a competitor as there is on the team, he is one who should be proud that his senior class may leave as the most successful in school history.
TOMMY POLLEY — Tommy came to FSU from Dunbar High School in Baltimore, which is nationally renowned as one of the best basketball schools in the country. He has proven that despite the fact that the football field he played on in high school had no grass, or even any bleachers, greatness can come from anywhere. Polished and thoughtful, he is one of the most intriguing players on the team.
JAMAL REYNOLDS — Signing with Florida State to play defensive end takes guts in and of itself these days, because with the glamorous position comes instant scrutiny. There is nowhere to hide on the ends at FSU. Jamal has proven this year that his name belongs with the all-time greats at the position.
ROLAND SEYMOUR — Yet another extremely talented player whose career was sidetracked by injury. We all hope to see him play in the bowl game, but if not he’s certain to get a shot at the NFL. This is not the way Roland would like to have seen his final campaign end, but it is yet another lesson that we don’t get to write all the chapters.
RYAN SPRAGUE — My favorite quote of last year was when Ryan scored a touchdown and then revealed in the locker room after the game that it was his first touchdown ever – at ANY level of football. He left high school not thinking that he would ever play college football and finds himself, through lots of hard work and a great attitude, starting in one of college football’s biggest games.
CLEVAN THOMAS — When FSU’s defense lines up against Florida for the first time tonight, take a long look at what’s behind Clevan. That’s right, nothing but a lot of green grass and an endzone beyond that. Imagine playing four years of college with nothing but a score for the other team if a player gets by you. Gutsy somehow seems an inadequate description.
TARLOS THOMAS — One of those guys who you can take one look at his photo in the program and know he’s a good person. And he is. Wonderful guy who has made himself into a terrific football player. He too must watch from the sidelines after starting every game since his sophomore year.
DAVID WARREN — Polite to a fault at times, I sometimes expected him to drill the quarterback then make every effort to catch him on the way down. A gentleman who has an amazing economy of movement. When they say a “nose for the football” they’re talking about him. He reminds me of Warrick Dunn in that after every play he walks back to the huddle like he can barely take another step.
CHRIS WEINKE — See Weinke Story.
RANDY WILKINS — Another of the former walk-ons who must have heard classmates ask why he was at Florida State and not starting at XYZ State. And another player who refused to listen to doubters, earned a scholarship, and is part of a truly unique senior class.