TALLAHASSEE -- Greg Reid’s dismissal has left a void on the Florida State football team.
Not just in a football sense, where the Seminoles must now hold auditions at field corner and punt returner to replace the second-team preseason All-American.
But also in a leadership sense and from an inspirational standpoint.
“During [last] season, I hate to bring this up, but just looking at Greg play, that did something for me,” senior running back Chris Thompson said Tuesday, leaning forward as if he almost wasn’t sure whether he was allowed to speak Reid’s name.
“It helped my spirits a whole lot just seeing the excitement, you know the excitement he brought; it made me want to rush back.”
Thompson was rehabbing from a career-threatening broken back, and he was not alone in the inspiration he drew from Reid’s enthusiasm and passion for football. Despite some of his off-the-field problems, Reid was one of the Seminoles’ most vocal, supportive leaders on the practice field. He was a guy teammates could turn to for motivation or to get built back up after a mistake.
Trying to fill that leadership void will be difficult, but one of Reid’s high school teammates, linebacker Telvin Smith, is stepping in.
Smith is a 6-3, 215-pound junior who demonstrated his athleticism and playmaking ability more and more last season as he saw his role expanded in Florida State’s defense.
“They’re pretty much cut from the same cloth,” senior quarterback EJ Manuel said. “Telvin just took up right where Greg would take up. They’re both no-nonsense guys; they’re big practice guys, you know what I mean? They love the game of football. They respect it. That’s what I love so much about Greg and Telvin.”
It might be something in the water in Valdosta, Ga., or maybe coach Randy McPherson just knows how to instill passion in his Lowndes High School players. Manuel notes that Smith, Reid and sophomore cornerback Tyler Hunter share that love of the game.
“All those guys, they love football in that program they come from in Lowndes,” Manuel said.
They also seem to share a propensity for trouble, Reid so much so that he was dismissed for it, and Hunter is currently doing ride-alongs and community service as penance for inflammatory remarks he made about the police on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Smith was suspended for a game last season for breaking an undisclosed team rule and as recently as last week had to be reinstated to the university. If Smith wants to truly lead the Seminoles, he’ll need to avoid the off-field mistakes that kept Reid from being a part of the team. For now though, he seems poised for the challenge.
“Telvin pretty much took that weight up from Day One,” Manuel said. “[From] the first meeting on Sunday.”