TALLAHASSEE -- They say that revenge is a dish best served cold — that sure is how FSU’s how Devonta Freeman likes it.
On a night that the University of Miami came to Tallahassee thinking upset and preparing for an onslaught from redshirt freshman sensation Jameis Winston, it was junior running back Freeman who got the last laugh.
Freeman grew up in Miami, attended Miami Central High and was a four-star running back coming out of high school — he was considered one of the 10 best backs in the country. But the University of Miami barely recruited him.
“That’s just something you carry with you,” said Freeman. “Your own hometown team didn’t recruit you as much as you wanted them to, so it’s kind of like it’s chip on your shoulder — like you all don’t see in me what Florida State saw in me.”
FSU saw something in Freeman right away.
“I could go on and on about him,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Whatever you want him to do and however you want him to do it he says, ‘Yes, sir’, and goes 100 miles per hour.”
Fisher first attended one of Freeman’s high school practices to see another player — the team’s first-string running back — who missed practice that day. Freeman took advantage of the serendipitous turn of events, cashing in on a bigger workload and catching Fisher’s eye in the process.
That night Fisher told the high school coach that Freeman — not the team’s then-starter — was the best back on the team.
By the end of his junior summer, Freeman had an offer from FSU in hand, an assurance that they wanted him regardless of how his senior year played out.
Turns out his senior year played out pretty well. Freeman set state playoff records as he carried Central to a championship. Suddenly the University of Miami was interested.
“The [state semifinals] and the state championship, that’s when they were coming at me hard,” said Freeman. “It’s just like that was a slap in face, you carry a chip like I just want to beat these people bad — like every day.”
On Saturday night Freeman got his chance.
With Miami dropping seven and eight into coverage regularly in an attempt to slow down Winston, it was Freeman who stole the spotlight and broke the Hurricanes’ backs — amassing 176 total yards and three touchdowns as FSU beat UM 41-14.
“I run hard against anybody, but it’s just like, ‘I want to run you over’ against Miami,” Freeman had said on Wednesday.
Freeman darted through, around and past the Hurricanes defense for touchdown runs of 5 and 12 yards and raced for a 48-yard score on a screen pass.
He outscored Miami by himself.
After the game Freeman was his typical self, humbly deflecting praise to his blockers and coaching staff. But an ear-to-ear grin snuck across his face when asked what tormenting UM meant to him.
His coach was a little more emphatic.
“That little guy, what a warrior,” said Fisher. “You talk about a Seminole Warrior. You talk about a guy that’s [all] heart and soul.”
Miami found out about that the hard way on Saturday night.