TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Amir Rasul wanted a bigger role in the Florida State offense.
He just didn’t want it to come this way.
With junior running back Jacques Patrick sidelined indefinitely thanks to a knee injury, the Seminoles are set to rely on a new wave of running backs to fill his shoes as they navigate the rest of the season.
And at the top of that group is Rasul, a sophomore from Miami who has run for 30 yards on seven carries this season.
“First of all,” Rasul said Tuesday, “I’m extremely sorry that Jacques went down. … Jacques is in my prayers. But now it’s time for me to pick up and do what I have to do.”
The Seminoles hope that Rasul – along with fellow running backs Ryan Green, Johnathan Vickers and Khalan Laborn – can pick up the slack and meet the standard set by Patrick and freshman Cam Akers over the last few weeks.
With Patrick and Akers leading the way, the Seminoles’ rushing game has emerged as the strength of the offense. FSU increased its rushing total in each of its first five games, while Patrick (70.17 YPG) and Akers (75.83) each ranked in the top 10 of the ACC in yards per game.
Replacing Patrick is no easy feat. The 6-3, 234-pounder is the most powerful running back in FSU’s stable, and, with 200 career carries, he’s by far the most experienced.
Rasul, though, believes that the Seminoles have enough pieces in place to ease the sting of Patrick’s absence.
And, in some respects, he has Patrick to thank for that.
“Jacques has always been a great leader,” Rasul said. “Someone that I personally follow. … Him catching the ball, him blocking out of the backfield, just watching him do those things, I learned a lot.”
While Rasul could be a capable blocker or receiver, what he brings most to the Seminoles – what truly sets him apart – is speed.
Rasul has been running track since he was six years old. By the time he made his way to Columbus High School, he was one of the fastest sprinters in the state.
As a freshman, Rasul won the 2013 Florida 100-meter state championship in 10.81 seconds (a race in which former FSU quarterback John Franklin III finished second), and he’s also been clocked at 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
That speed translated well to the football field, where Rasul racked up more than 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns on his way to a designation as the No. 1 prep running back in the state of Florida.
What attracted FSU coach Jimbo Fisher to Rasul, though, was his toughness. Whereas some track athletes might shy away from contact once they put on a helmet and shoulder pads, Fisher found that Rasul was more than willing to get his hands dirty.
A calm, quiet personality and an intense level of focus didn’t hurt, either.
“All he says is ‘Yes sir, no sir,’ and goes 100 miles an hour,” Fisher said. “He’s a really good player.”
Which could be really good news for Florida State as the Seminoles embark on a challenging final month of the regular season.
Of the final five teams on FSU’s schedule, only Boston College and Delaware State don’t have top-50 rush defenses. Syracuse (32nd), Clemson (13th) and Florida (47th) are all among the better run-stoppers in the country.
But that’s just fine with Rasul, who said that his “laser focus” in practice, as well as the blueprint laid out by Patrick, will have him prepared for what comes.
“I’m ready for whatever they’re throwing at me,” he said. “I’m ready to finish out this season and do whatever I have to do to help the team win.