TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As of last weekend, Armani Kerr had officially completed his bachelor’s degree in finance from the Florida State College of Business – the culmination of countless late nights, early mornings and a few days spent wondering if all his hard work would pay off.
And as far as Kerr is concerned, he’s only getting started.
A walk-on linebacker on the FSU football team, Kerr plans to remain at Florida State this fall and pursue his Master of Business Administration degree.
He also plans to make an impact on the field.
“It was a major milestone for me,” said Kerr, a Miami native. “This is just the beginning.”
Kerr’s road to Florida State was neither straight nor easy.
A former standout at Miami’s Jackson High, Kerr moved to Tallahassee intending to go to Florida State but needing first to take a detour at nearby Tallahassee Community College.
At that point, Kerr was closer to his goal than he’d ever been – TCC’s campus is just two miles from Florida State’s – and yet still some ways away.
He would need to complete two years at TCC and earn his associate in arts degree before transferring to FSU.
“It was a tough process,” Kerr said. “A lot of long nights and days when I would want to give up. I had to maintain school and working out.”
When things got tough, Kerr said he’d reflect back on his “why” – his reason to keep pushing.
For him, that meant making his family proud while serving as an inspiration for some of his peers.
“Coming from Miami, a lot of people don’t have the same opportunity as me,” Kerr said. “A lot of my friends who I grew up with, they didn’t go to college. So they kind of look up to me.”
While keeping himself in football shape, Kerr found some inspiration of his own in the form of former FSU All-American Ernie Sims, who owns a training and performance center in Tallahassee.
Under Sims’ guidance, Kerr stayed on track and ensured that, when he finally got to Florida State, he’d be ready.
“Armani is a good young man,” Sims said. “Hard worker and determined to make something of his life. I’m proud of what he has accomplished, and I know he will continue to progress in his life.”
Kerr’s moment finally came in the fall of 2018, when he walked on – both literally and figuratively – to the Dunlap Practice Fields for the first time.
“It was a great feeling,” Kerr said, although he didn’t have much time to bask in it.
Practice moved quickly and Kerr, making a return to organized football for the first time since high school, found that things weren’t about to slow down for him.
“It was going very fast,” he said. “It was like, ‘Wow, this is the real deal. I’m really at Florida State. Playing for Florida State.’”
Kerr spent that year and most of the next working with the Seminoles’ scout-team defense. But he reached a major achievement – one not often afforded to walk-ons – late last season.
With time winding down on FSU’s lopsided victory over Alabama State, Kerr’s number was called. He was going into the game.
“The first snap was kind of nerve-wracking,” Kerr said. “It went fast. But it was a great feeling to have my teammates cheering me on.”
They cheered even louder when Kerr made a tackle on the game’s final play, putting an exclamation point on a 49-12 victory.
Given a taste of game action, Kerr is determined to push for more as a fifth-year senior.
And he’s already talked with coach Mike Norvell about how to make it happen.
Norvell has made clear how much he prioritizes high-level special teams, and, when he met with Kerr for the first time, the new coach laid out FSU’s kick and punt teams as a potential path to playing time.
That’s all Kerr wants.
“He was asking me if I see myself playing a lot of special teams,” Kerr said. “So I told him, ‘Yes I do. Because it’s an opportunity.’”