ATLANTA – Travis Rudolph’s sophomore season got a jumpstart when quarterback Sean Maguire took over the Florida State offense midway through the season.
The Palm Beach native finished with 916 receiving yards this season, with 65 percent (596 yards) of that production coming with Maguire at quarterback.
And the two raised the bar even higher Thursday, connecting seven times for 201 yards and a touchdown during FSU’s 38-24 defeat to Houston in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
“I had a great connection (with Maguire),” Rudolph said after the game. “It was a tough loss.”
But even in defeat, Rudolph’s effort in the Peach Bowl served as a startling reminder of his potential. His 201 yards were the most in FSU bowl game history, and he’s hoping to build on that performance as he transitions to his junior year in 2016.
The Seminoles expect to have every offensive starter back for next season.
“It opens my eyes to stay focused and locked in,” Rudolph said. “(I want to) improve on my craft with everything – blocking, running routes, speed, catching, everything. I just want to be a complete receiver.”
Juniors not yet decided on future
As the Peach Bowl brought the 2015 season to a close, none of FSU’s draft-eligible underclassmen were quite ready to comment on their future plans.
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, defensive end DeMarcus Walker and kicker Roberto Aguayo each must decide in the next few weeks whether to return for their senior years or enter the NFL draft. Each said they still plan to mull their options and talk with their families and FSU coach Jimbo Fisher before moving forward.
“I wasn’t focusing on that coming into the game,” Aguayo said. “Now that it’s over, I’ll have time to think about that.
“I’ll definitely talk to Coach Fisher, sit down with my family and see what we should do. We’ll go from there.”
Ramsey and Walker’s decisions will play a big impact in shaping FSU’s defense in 2016. The Seminoles are already set to lose eight seniors from their defensive two-deep, and will have more holes to fill if their juniors leave as well.
Ramsey, a consensus All-American who has played every position in the secondary during his time at FSU, is perhaps the Seminoles’ most draft-ready prospect.
“That’s something I’ll talk to my family about and Coach Fisher about before I let anyone know,” he said.
Cook’s place in the record books
Houston kept running back Dalvin Cook bottled up for most of the afternoon, but Cook still finished with one of the best individual seasons in FSU football history and is primed to climb the record books even more next season.
Cook’s 1,691 rushing yards this season were the most ever for an FSU running back, and his 2,699 career yards are already fifth on the Seminoles’ all-time list.
He needs 1,260 to catch Warrick Dunn (3,959 yards from 1993-96) for first place.
“I’m confident (for next season),” Cook said. “We’ve just got to put the time and the work and the effort in. I’m going to stress that in spring ball, the offseason. We’ve got to go to work. … We want to be one of those dominant teams coming back.”