ACC Championship game | No. 1 FSU vs. No. 20 Duke

Florida State’s seniors lead the way

Florida State linebacker Christian Jones (7) in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State beat Syracuse 59-3.
Florida State linebacker Christian Jones (7) in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State beat Syracuse 59-3.
Phil Sears / AP

Miami Herald Writer

As the situation surrounding Jameis Winston continues to play out the biggest injustice at Florida State has been the senior class getting overlooked.

Since news of the Winston allegations broke everything else at Florida State has been obscured — including a senior class that has been largely responsible for returning FSU to prominence.

In the entire history of FSU football, only three teams have won 12 games in a season. This class has done it twice.

“That’s one thing about this team they care for each other, they play for each other and this team deals with adversity very well,” said coach Jimbo Fisher.

That couldn’t be more obvious this season.

At the start of the year FSU lost half of its coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. That forced everyone — freshmen to seniors — back into the classroom to make sure the team had a thorough grasp of the defense. The results has been more a more united team.

“It was definitely a different experience, you just had to buy in quickly to what the coaches are doing. We know they won’t put us in a bad position and I mean we went through what — two defensive coaches?” said senior safety Terrence Brooks. “I mean you just have to go with the flow and just do what you have to do. It worked out real good.”

FSU seniors took the lead on teaching the new defense.

Players such as linebackers Christian Jones and Telvin Smith and defensive backs Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks took leading roles in making sure the new defense was being properly installed.

“It was as whole completely new defense so as a unit we had to have older guys pretty much step up and say, ‘all right, this is what we need to do.’ We have a lot of starters that left last year’s defense so we had to have guys step up,” Jones said.

“They’re leaders in their individuals [units] and they’ve been doing a good job of getting those younger guys ready and helping them understand the concept of the whole defense and I feel that’s something that hasn’t really been around that much, having all these bunch of older guys being able to help all these younger guys out and help them learn what they’ve got to learn. And I think our chemistry has grown off of that.”

The result have been undeniable.

FSU leads the nation with 23 interceptions this season. FSU allows fewer points than any team in the nation. And the press box at Doak Campbell stadium is loaded with NFL scouts week in and week out.

FSU’s senior class? It couldn’t be more responsible.

It was Fisher’s first full class as a head coach. It came in after a 7-6 season that saw them start 2-4. Since then? They’ve won 12 games in a season twice, are on their way to a second BCS bowl and have firmly reestablished FSU as a powerhouse program.

There are only two more games left for the Seminoles’ senior class.

The Winston situation has made sure to obscure them, but in the annals of Florida State history one would be hard-pressed to find a more meaningful group.

Read more FSU stories from the Miami Herald

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