By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It’s been nearly two full years since the Florida State football team lost a game.
So long that every freshman, redshirt freshman and sophomore on the roster – 44 players in all – don’t have any idea what it feels like to lose at the college level.
Cameron Erving has a different perspective.
One of just three fifth-year seniors who have been here since the start of Jimbo Fisher’s tenure as head coach, Erving remembers the price paid while the program found its footing on the way to last year’s national title.
“A lot of guys on the team haven’t really been through the times that I’ve been through here,” Erving said.
Projected as a high draft pick at the lucrative left tackle position, Erving put NFL millions on hold for one more year at FSU. Winning a second straight national title was one of his primary motivations to return.
Whenever that dream feels like it might be slipping away, as it has at times during FSU’s four comeback victories this season, Erving can’t help but flash back to some of the disappointing defeats the Seminoles suffered in his early years.
He mentioned then-No. 5 FSU’s 17-16 setback at North Carolina State in 2012, as well as upset defeats to North Carolina in 2010 and Virginia in 2011.
“It’s just human nature. I always flash back to games like (those),” he said. “I’ve lost 10 games since I’ve been here. And I don’t like losing.”
That aversion led Erving to step outside of his comfort zone last week at Louisville.
Erving describes himself as a “lead-by-example” kind of guy, but, with the Seminoles trailing 21-0, Erving felt that his teammates needed more than just his example.
Cameras caught the big man patrolling up and down the sidelines, getting in the face of some players in an attempt to wake the Seminoles from their slumber.
Erving insists he didn’t say anything profound, only that he reminded everyone – especially the youngsters — that they’d been in this situation before.
“Sometimes you just have those moments where something needs to be said or something needs to be done,” he said. ”It wasn’t crazy. I just felt like that was what needed to be done at the time.”
It apparently worked.
FSU, of course, rallied past the Cardinals for a 42-31 victory that kept the Seminoles’ – and Erving’s – championship hopes alive.
And Erving helped lead the way while dealing with an apparent injury in his right arm. Fisher said Monday that Erving “hit a funny bone” and is fine, but Erving was in obvious pain.
He still helped pave the way for one of FSU’s best rushing outputs of the season – 173 yards on the nation’s top-ranked rushing defense – and was rewarded with ACC offensive lineman of the week honors.
Even better, the win came thanks in large part to the efforts of some talented true freshmen – the ones who have yet to taste any defeat.
“That’s what we sell in recruiting – undefeated teams, win streak, this, that and the other,” Erving said. “But those guys just come, put on a jersey and go out and sometimes expect to win. It’s not their fault, it’s just something that they’re coming into. It’s not a bad thing to expect to win, because I always expect to win.”
Which is something that Erving has learned to appreciate since arriving in Tallahassee in 2010.
FSU has just four regular season games remaining and, after surviving a few close calls, Erving and his fellow seniors don’t have any intention of letting their ultimate goal slip away now.
“It means a lot to those seniors,” Fisher said. “When you are a senior, now, it is always a different meaning.”