Friends and Family Gather to Support FSU at the Fiesta Bowl
Brothers bond is stronger than conference rivalry.
Florida State’s appearance in the Fiesta Bowl has brought together friends and family from around the nation to support the Seminoles in their bid for a national championship.
Even conference rivalries are taking a back seat in Tempe. FSU sophomore defensive end Jamal Reynolds can look up into the stands Monday night and count on the support of his family – including his brother Diron, who played at Wake Forest from 1990-93 and is currently a graduate assistant on Jim Caldwell’s staff, working with the Demon Deacons’ defensive line.
“Sometimes it’s tough to cheer for the Seminoles, being in the same conference,” said Diron, who watched as Jamal notched three sacks in Florida State’s 24-7 win this season at Wake Forest.
“But you put all of that aside for family. We come together every year as a family for the bowl game. With Florida State, you know you’re going to be going to a bowl, you just have to wait and find out which one.”
As the Reynolds family gathered for lunch Sunday, they recalled the unforgettable day when they learned they were headed for Tempe.
“It was great,” said Diron. “I was watching all of the games, going back and forth and calling people to try and find out what was going on. As soon as I found out Kansas State lost, I called down to Florida State to talk to Jamal and I heard his teammates all running around out in the street.
“He said they were all holding hands, waiting for K-State to lose. When it happened, he said they just went crazy. I was, too. I was just so happy that my brother was going to get a chance to play in the national championship game. As soon as I got off the phone with Jamal, I started trying to find airline tickets and hotels, because I knew we had to get out here.”
Jamal’s sister was also overjoyed when she heard the news.
“Kansas State was up 10 points when I left to go shopping, and I was on my way home when I called my mom,” said Deksha Reynolds. “She was like, ‘Oh my God, Kansas State lost!,” and I just started screaming in the car.”
Although his family is very excited, Jamal and his Seminole teammates are staying calm and focused as they await their title shot.
“He’s real calm,” said brother Rashad, who recently completed his playing career at Rice. “They have a lot of confidence, so they don’t get nervous. They already beat Florida, so playing in another big game is no big deal to them.”
No matter what happens Monday, the Reynolds family will be happy to be together.
“I’m just going to celebrate being here with my family,” said Diron. “That’s what it’s all about.”
The Fiesta Bowl also gave FSU alumni Will Murphy, Glenn Brown and Donnie Woods an opportunity to reunite.
“We live in three spots around the country,” said Brown. “Will lives in Orlando, Donnie lives in South Carolina and I live south of Los Angeles.”
The longtime friends began the season by trekking to the Meadowlands to watch the Seminoles defeat Texas A&M.
“We all flew out to the Kickoff Classic, and we said then that the next game we’d be going to was in Tempe,” said Brown.
The trio, who will be seated in the 12th row on 15-yard line Monday night, is confident that the Noles will prevail.
“I think if we play our game, we win,” said Murphy. “Tennessee has to pull out every stop to win. Their safety was saying they’re going to go man coverage on our guys, which is ridiculous. Dre’ Bly, the best cover man in the country, went man-to-man with Peter Warrick, and he got burned.”
If all goes as planned, they will celebrate the Seminoles’ second national championship in style.
“I bought a bottle of 21-year old scotch,” said Murphy.
“And I brought cigars,” said Brown. “We’ll probably be partying in the stadium parking lot until 5 a.m., just like we did back in ’93.”