WATCH: Cole Minshew, Oct. 15
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It was a grand total of six snaps. Far fewer than he’s used to and far fewer than he hopes to play moving forward.
But they might have been the most enjoyable six snaps of Cole Minshew’s Florida State career.
A fifth-year senior offensive lineman, Minshew made a surprise return to the lineup last week at Clemson – playing left guard in his first action since suffering a season-ending injury at North Carolina State last year.
Since then, Minshew had missed a total of eight games, as well as all of spring and fall camp.
“Man, it felt great,” Minshew said. “It wasn’t but six plays, but almost a year I’d been out. And just getting those six plays, it felt amazing.”
A 23-game starter since arriving in 2015, Minshew is one of the Seminoles’ most experienced players at any position.
He’s also travelled a tougher road than most on the way to his final collegiate season.
Minshew’s most recent injury required offseason neck surgery, as well as a long and laborious recovery process.
Before that, he’d dealt with injuries that led to a redshirt year in 2015, as well as injuries that sidelined him for a big chunk of the 2016 season.
When Minshew started all 13 games a year later, and then seven of FSU’s first eight games in 2018, he figured the worst was over.
But when another setback occurred, this one in his neck, Minshew feared that he might have played his last game as a Seminole.
“I mean, after a year, yeah,” he said. “I was kind of worried about it. Thank God that all my tests and MRIs came back and I got cleared to play. Just happy to be back.”
His coaches and teammates feel the same way.
“Ever since I met the dude, he has just wanted to get back on the field,” right tackle Ryan Roberts said. “He has always been supportive of everybody else and tried to give all the knowledge that he has got over his four years of playing.
“Now that he is back, super happy for the guy. He has worked so hard at recovery and everything else to get back to this point.”
Which isn’t to say that the road was easy. Working closely with FSU’s training staff – Minshew thanked Jake Pfeil, Alora Sullivan and Josh Chatman, among others – Minshew followed the proper path to ensure that his neck healed safely and properly.
And, even when he did first return to the practice fields, Minshew had to focus on regaining his conditioning before he could do anything related to football.
Which meant many hours spent running, lifting and exercise under the direction of FSU’s strength staff.
“Man, they’re amazing,” Minshew said of the support staff. “They did a great job. They’ve been with me the whole time, really my whole career, and I owe them everything.”
Minshew still has some strides to make before he can become a full-time contributor. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles said that Minshew “played OK,” and that he needed improve on his stamina.
But with more time on the practice fields and under line coach Randy Clements’ instruction, Briles believes that both Minshew and Jauan Williams, the left tackle who also returned last week from a multi-week injury, could one day crack the starting lineup again.
“That’s going to be up to them and the way they practice and the way we feel about them in the game plan,” Briles said. “But absolutely, they have the ability (to start).”