WATCH: Layne Herdt and Tim Linafelt preview FSU’s home finale against Alabama State
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Four years ago, when Alex Hornibrook and Ryan Roberts began their college football careers, neither had any idea that their lives would one day converge in Tallahassee.
Hornibrook would enjoy a successful tenure as the quarterback at Wisconsin, and Roberts equally so on the offensive line at Northern Illinois.
But, upon graduation, each found himself searching for a new challenge. And perhaps an elevated platform.
They found that and more at Florida State, where Hornibrook and Roberts each experienced a memorable year, full of peaks and valleys, that will start to culminate during Saturday’s Senior Day ceremonies at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The two will be among 18 seniors honored before the Seminoles kick off their home finale against Alabama State (noon, RSN).
“It was kind of a wild ride, for me and Ryan, too,” Hornibrook said. “We obviously didn’t think we were going to be here when we were younger. And then things change.”
No, things didn’t always go according to plan.
Roberts was a mainstay in the starting lineup and Hornibrook a regular contributor, but the Seminoles experienced a bumpy road that led to coach Willie Taggart’s dismissal after a loss to Miami two weeks ago.
Even still, Hornibrook and Roberts both say they’ve had a rewarding year at Florida State.
“I’ve loved every second of it,” Roberts said. “Adversity is a part of life. No life is perfect. You never love the sunshine without a little bit of rain.
“Until you see those ups and downs, it’s hard to truly appreciate and enjoy those peaks.”
Neither’s football careers are yet over – after Saturday’s home finale the Seminoles still have a visit to Florida at the end of the month, as well as a potential bowl game to cap the campaign.
But regardless of what takes place over the rest of the season, Hornibrook and Roberts will also leave Tallahassee with something that transcends the football field: a friend for life.
Thanks to a mutual friend – a high school teammate of Roberts’ who later played with Hornibrook at Wisconsin – the two roomed together upon their arrival at FSU.
Two players whose lives might never have crossed paths suddenly found a perfect fit.
“It was really perfect,” Hornibrook said. “We’re both coming in trying to do the same thing, having the same goals and aspirations. He’s a cool dude on and off the field.”
Added Roberts: “He’s a special guy. He’s become one of my best friends. Living with him has been crazy. It’s something I’m going to miss.”
The two found that they each liked to go to bed early in order to make the most of the next day. And that they enjoyed breaking down the ins and outs of what happened in a practice or game.
They also pushed each other to better themselves.
“He works his tail off every single day, always trying to get better,” Robert said. “I’m like, ‘Man, I’ve got to turn it up a notch.’
“I always thought I was the hardest working guy in the room. Then he walked in the room.”
Which isn’t to say that it’s all work and no play.
Take, for example, the life-sized, inflatable Santa Claus that has recently become a fixture in the household.
“It was like 50 bucks,” Hornibrook said with a smile. “I had to get it.”
But Hornibrook didn’t expect to walk into his bedroom one day and see Santa neatly tucked under the blankets.
“So, I came home to that.”
Turnabout is fair play, though, and Hornibrook wasn’t about to let Roberts escape unscathed.
“This morning, he woke up, I didn’t say anything, and he opened up his closet and Santa is upside down in front of his face,” Hornibrook said.
“Scared the daylights out of me,” Roberts said.
As their final home game approaches, both Hornibrook and Roberts are trying to focus on the immediate task at hand – getting the Seminoles a sixth win, and bowl eligibility along with it – but also know that it could be a significant afternoon.
Both will have family in town from far away, as well as a Florida State fan base to which they feel grateful.
Roberts said that, even though Senior Day is meant to celebrate players who are about to move on to the next phase of their lives, he’d prefer to use it a chance to show his appreciation for everyone who has helped him along the way.
“I think, in the moment, I’m not going to truly understand the experience,” he said. “I hope that this moment is more so a thank-you to them. A thank-you to my parents for all the hard work they did in raising me, loving me every single day, traveling to all my games. Supporting me my entire life. It’s a thank you to them.
“It’s a thank you to this fan base for coming out every Saturday and supporting me. For accepting me with wide open arms. I’m so grateful for them.”
Odds and ends …