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As Florida State kicked off its first Cheez-It Bowl practice last week, Mike Norvell wanted to assure his players that they don’t have to worry about making immediate decisions about their future. It turned out that the third-year Seminoles coach had nothing to worry about.

“I talked to the players and said, ‘Hey, just so you know, you don’t have to go and make a decision,’” Norvell recalled. “Twenty minutes later, I’m looking at my phone, and we already have a few players, ‘I’m playing in this game. That’s it.’

“The great thing is that there was no convincing to be made.”

Defensive end Jared Verse and safety Jammie Robinson, both considered NFL prospects, surprised some when they announced their commitment to play in the Dec. 29 game immediately after practice. In the end, it wasn’t really a decision for either player.

“Once in the locker room, we passed each other and he said, ‘Do you play bowling?’ and I said, “Yeah,” and he was like, “Me too,” Verse said of his conversation with Robinson.

At a time when more and more college players are opting out of bowling games to prepare for their NFL future or enter the transfer portal, Florida State’s situation is somewhat peculiar. The Seminoles will field almost their entire roster for the season, except for cornerback Sam McCall, tackle Lloyd Willis and defensive linemen Shambre Jackson and George Wilson Jr.

FSU’s opponent Oklahoma has five starters retiring, including tackles Wanya Morris (NFL) and Anton Harrison (NFL), running back Eric Gray (NFL), receiver Theo Wease (transfer) and defensive lineman Jalen Redmond (NFL). The Sooners will also be without backup linebackers Joseph Wete (transfer) and Clayton Smith (transfer), quarterback Nick Evers (transfer), receiver Trevon West (transfer) and cornerbacks Joshua Eaton (transfer) and Kendall Dennis (transfer). ).

Much of Florida State’s turnaround this season can be attributed to the type of players Norvell and his coaching staff have assembled on this roster. It’s something that took three seasons to bear fruit and is continuing into the playoffs.

“Right after Clemson’s week, I started to realize how special this group was, especially on the offensive line, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” said senior redshirt guard Dillan Gibbons. “I just wanted one more game, one more experience with this group of guys.”

Quarterback Jordan Travis added, “We owe it to this university. The State of Florida gives us everything. We are blessed every day to wake up a Seminole and know how far we have come as a football team. Nobody wants to leave anyone behind.

Travis is part of a group of starters, including running back Trey Benson, receiver Mycah Pittman, offensive linemen Maurice Smith and Robert Scott, and linebacker Tatum Bethune, who have already pledged to return next season, soothing the spirit of the coaching staff and creating an indescribable optimism. in the fanbase for what might be possible in 2023.

“We have a special group of guys with very special individual pieces,” Gibbons said. “It’s great to go out there and play another game, but I can’t wait to pump the guy to my right and to my left and go out there and sacrifice myself one for the other.”

Verse, a first-time All-ACC selection after totaling 14.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks in his freshman season, isn’t surprised his teammates aren’t willing to let the bowling game pass.

« Jammie, Fabien [Lovett] and me… everyone is like if they are able to play, they are going to play. That’s exactly the type of player Coach Norvell brought in,” explained Verse. “Here it’s just special – you want to play more.”

Norvell also credits the players for their selflessness.

“These guys, they love to play the game, and they love to play and have the chance to represent themselves,” he said. “It’s always about them, and that’s been so nice because this team is excited to play.”

This article first appeared on Email Matt Murschel at or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.


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FSU players are reason Seminoles enter Cheez-It Bowl with few opt-outs – The Denver Post

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