CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – When Jordan Travis stepped on to the field for the first time as a Florida State Seminole, his teammates in the huddle knew exactly what was coming.
Same goes for his defensive counterparts, who had seen Travis’ feats on the practice fields for the last eight months.
But the Boston College defense? They couldn’t have had any idea.
With the Seminoles trailing BC by four points early in the third quarter, and facing a third-and-three at the Eagles’ 26-yard line, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles sent Travis into the game for the very first time.
Make that any game for the very first time. Not since Oct. 13, 2018, when he was just a few weeks into his career at Louisville, had Travis played in a college football game.
That game, go figure, was at Boston College, and it didn’t go well. Travis went 0-for-4, was sacked twice and his team lost by 18 points.
His return trip, though, was much more memorable.
In his first play wearing garnet and gold, Travis took a shotgun snap, kept the ball on an option run and then raced around the right corner. Twenty-six yards later, Travis was in the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown and not a single defender had laid a finger on him.
Not bad for his 1st snap as a Seminole.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) November 9, 2019
“As soon as he got in the game, the defensive side of the ball was saying he was going to score,” FSU cornerback Stanford Samuels III said. “We knew what the play call was, and nobody else knew that he could run the ball like that.
“We see him because usually he’s our scout-team quarterback that we go against, especially for running quarterbacks. And we know what he’s capable of when you get the ball in his hands.”
Travis wasn’t done, either.
A little while later, as the Seminoles looked to close out the Eagles, Travis took another third-down snap, scanned the defense then took off for a 66-yard score that proved to be the game-winner in FSU’s 38-31 victory.
It was the longest touchdown run by an FSU quarterback – ever. Travis finished with three carries for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
That’s a wrap. 66 yard TD RUN for Jordan Travis. pic.twitter.com/9BKi4LzsPr
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) November 9, 2019
Not bad for a guy who, as recently as Saturday morning, seemed destined to spend the season on the sideline.
“Once he gets going, it’s hard to stop him,” fellow quarterback James Blackman said. “I promise you. And he put that on display today.”
“I always knew he had it in him,” receiver Tamorrion Terry said. “He just needed that chance.”
Travis’ surge marked a satisfying end to a long and sometimes difficult road back to the football field.
A native of West Palm Beach and the younger brother of former FSU baseball star Devon Travis, Travis began his career at Louisville but left the program as it approached a coaching change.
Then, seemingly blessed with a fresh start at the school he cheered for as a child, Travis’ plans were put on hold thanks to a long, drawn-out waiver process with the NCAA.
The NCAA eventually granted Travis’ request but, by then, it had been several months, and the newcomer’s already slight chances at unseating veterans James Blackman and Alex Hornibrook on the depth chart were all but gone.
Travis, though, kept at it on the practice fields, contributing with the scout team and preparing the FSU defense for the mobile quarterbacks on their schedule.
“Hard-working kid,” Blackman said.
Then, as FSU’s game against Boston College approached, Briles, FSU’s first-year offensive coordinator, had an idea.
The Seminoles’ season was already in flux, and the offense needed a boost. Why not see what Travis could do?
Briles approached Haggins with a plan, and the interim head coach was onboard.
“I said, ‘Kendal, run your offense. You make that decision. Let’s go with it.
I’ll support you,’” Haggins said.
Then, before the game, Haggins had a brief message for his newest quarterback.
“I went to Jordan, fist-bumped him (and said), ‘Hey, you’re a Seminole, brother. Our standards here are very high. You get in there, you make the plays, you do what you’re supposed to do.’ And left it at that.'”
Travis did the rest, leaving BC’s Alumni Stadium with a performance that sparked a memorable victory and offered a glimpse at what could be a promising future.
“Just to see him come out and dominate the run game like that, that’s just crazy,” running back Cam Akers said. “That’s amazing to me. I think he rushed for like 100 yards on three carries. Two touchdowns. That just speaks for itself.”