Devonta Freeman wasn’t submerged in the flamboyant football fanfare of Radio City Music Hall when his name was called Saturday as the 103rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Freeman, a running back for the national champion Florida State Seminoles, stood smiling as he spoke on his cellphone with the Atlanta Falcons about his future while swimming in family and friends. FSU had the second most players of any school taken in the three-day draft.
“I’m excited,” said Freeman in his first interview with the Falcons. “I’m at a loss for words right now. This is a dream come true. I always wanted to go to Atlanta. I was getting frustrated because I didn’t go earlier but I said, ‘Please, Lord, let me go to my home team. That will make me so happy.”
More smiling Seminoles on Saturday included center Bryan Stork, who was taken two picks after Freeman in the fourth round, and linebacker Telvin Smith, who was taken by the New England Patriots in the fifth round.
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“[Stork] can play center or guard,” draft analyst Mike Mayock said on the NFL Network. “The knock on him is he is a little bit short-armed and stiff, but he understands blitz pickups and knows all the protections up front. This kid really understands the nuances of playing offensive line.”
The trio is a welcome addition to first-, second- and third-round selections Kelvin Benjamin (28), Lamarcus Joyner (41), Timmy Jernigan (48) and Terrence Brooks (79).
“The Falcons are getting another one of the best Seminoles to put on the garnet and gold,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher was quoted as saying on the football team’s official Twitter account. “He’s not only a phenomenal competitor and team player, but he’s one of the best human beings I’ve been around.”
Freeman won the Class 6A state title at Miami Central, and Joyner attended Miami Southwest and St. Thomas Aquinas.
“I can’t put into words how happy I am for Devonta and his family,” Fisher said.
Smith will join former Seminoles Geno Hayes and Dekoda Watson on a Jacksonville team that went 4-12 last season.
“Down in Jacksonville they’re ‘Nole-blooded,’ and they’re just trying to keep it going,” Smith said. “Tough players come out of Florida State; you’ve got to be tough to play there. We are one of the premier college football programs. So to go and come behind those guys, I’m elated. I’m ready to learn.”
The Seminoles have had 245 players drafted into the NFL, the 26th most in college football. Last season, three Seminoles were taken in the first round of a draft that included a school-record 11 selections. FSU has had 18 players drafted in the past two years, beating its school record of 17 between 2005 and 2006. The pick of Brooks marked FSU’s 37th defensive back drafted into the NFL.
“We’ve had seven taken,” Fisher said on the NFL Network. “When you are a proud papa, you count. You want to get as many as you can in there.
“A lot of guys going Saturday were the heart and soul of what we had.”
Christian Jones, James Wilder Jr., Chad Abram, Jacobbi McDaniel, Kenny Shaw, Demonte McAllister and Dan Hicks went undrafted.