Florida State University

FSU Seminoles receiver Travis Rudolph puts focus on football after a trying summer

Florida State's Travis Rudolph is tackled by South Florida's Danny Thomas after making a reception in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State won the game 34-14.
Florida State's Travis Rudolph is tackled by South Florida's Danny Thomas after making a reception in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State won the game 34-14. AP

The only angst Florida State receiver Travis Rudolph felt over testifying in the Dalvin Cook trial last month was wondering whether his friend ever would be his teammate again.

Rudolph, a former Cardinal Newman standout, was with Cook the night the running back was accused of hitting a woman. Rudolph said he “knew the truth” about the accusation and believed “the trial would set it right.”

Still, it wasn’t until after the jury came back with a not guilty verdict in about 20 minutes — and Cook was reinstated to the team — that Rudolph was relieved.

“When it’s in someone else’s hands, even though you know the truth… ” said Rudolph, who spoke Tuesday for the first time this season. “I was [thinking] this is messed up. Someone could come up with a false accusation and you’re suspended when the truth be told, you didn’t do it. I was happy for Dalvin.”

Rudolph said the trial, which was held Aug. 24, was “the least of my worries” when camp started three weeks earlier. Still, Rudolph, who was named to several freshman All-America teams after catching 38 passes for 555 yards and four touchdowns last season, found himself in coach Jimbo Fisher’s doghouse early in camp after getting off to a slow start.

Part of the reason was an injury to his left leg that bothered him, but did not force him to miss any time.

“Early in camp, you have those rough practices sometimes,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph (6-1, 186 pounds) did not start the season opener and was replaced by junior Kermit Whitfield, but he has recovered nicely. He has a team-high 10 receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown. Six of those catches have gone for first downs.

And although he and Whitfield are listed as co-starters opposite Jesus Wilson, Rudolph was on the field for the first play of Saturday’s victory over South Florida. He finished with six of the Seminoles’ 14 receptions.

Rudolph is working with his second quarterback in two years, having spent a year with Jameis Winston. He’s now trying to find that chemistry with Everett Golson, the graduate transfer from Notre Dame.

Rudolph said Golson watched a lot of film with the receivers this summer and is a quick study.

“It didn’t take a lot of time,” Randolph said about Golson and the receivers getting on the same page. “When he came in, he pretty much knew the offense.”

And Rudolph did more than study film in the heat of the Tallahassee summer. Rudolph and his fellow receivers worked at improving their blocking, something he acknowledged did not come natural. That’s not unusual for receivers ranked among the top three in the nation by most services as Rudolph was.

COOK HONORED

Cook was recognized as the AutoNation Football Writers Association of America Offensive Player of the Week after posting career-high totals of 266 yards and three touchdowns in the Seminoles’ 34-14 win over South Florida.

It marks the second national accolade of the week for Cook, who also was named the Walter Camp National FBS Player of the Week on Sunday.

Cook (Miami Central), a sophomore, carried 30 times and is the first Seminole to go over 200 yards rushing since Sammie Smith gained 212 against Tulane in 1988. He averaged 8.9 yards per carry and scored on runs of 74, 24 and 37 yards.

Cook already has 422 rushing yards this season. He ranks second in the nation in rushing. Cook also ranks in the top five nationally in rushing yards per game (2nd), rushing touchdowns (3rd) and scoring (5th).

Bob Ferrante and Miami Herald Staff contributed to this report.

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