October 17, 2012

FSU-Miami special for South Florida Seminoles

The Florida State-Miami game means plenty to each and every player on both rosters. It's the first step towards an unofficial Florida State Championship, it's an ACC game and it's one of the most storied rivalries in college football.

But for the players on the FSU roster who grew up in the South Florida area, Saturday's 8 p.m. matchup against the Hurricanes is a little bit more special than every other game on the schedule.

"It's more than a football game," says Liberty City native and Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas standout Lamarcus Joyner. "It becomes something-- I just can't explain it--it's a different kind of feeling when you play against guys like UM."

There are 16 scholarship players on the Seminoles' roster that grew up or played their high school football South Florida.

Defensive tackle Demonte McAllister, who grew up in Tampa, said he can already see a different energy from the South Florida natives this week on the practice fields and in the weight room. He also said you can just tell a Miami guy from how he acts and carries himself.

"They standout," he said. "They sing, they rep Dade county, all that stuff like that. It's amusing."

Head coach Jimbo Fisher knows how much the game means for his South Florida players. He just hopes that they don't get overexcited to play against their friends and back in their hometown.

"I think they're always excited to get home and play in front of their home crowd and where they're from," Fisher said. "Hopefully they don't get too high. That's the thing you worry about, not getting so caught up in going home that you forget to play the game. Most of those guys have had experience in doing it…it's big to them because they have to live there. They have to hear it all the time, so it is a big thing."

Miami fans haven't been able to say much to FSU players the last two summers when they've returned home, but they know that if the Hurricanes come away with victory on Saturday it'll be 365 days of trash talk for them and their families.

"For the guys that are coming from down south (the Miami fans) are going to be like "Oh y'all should have came to Miami.' Especially if they beat us, they get to talk, bragging rights for the year," said Glades Central grad Kelvin Benjamin. "So you want to go down there and put on a show for your family coming to the game, even your friends that you played against in high school and stuff like that."

Part of what makes the rivalry so special is the fact that guys on both sides have grown up playing against each other since their Pop Warner days. The connections may heat up the trash talk on the field at times, but it also creates a level of respect that is unusual for a high-stakes rivalry.

"It's definitely not that kind of level, there's not hate or anything it's just fun," said Joyner. "It's all about love to me, but when that 60 minutes is on the clock I don't have no friends, no family, you're either with us or against us and that's how I feel. But until then I respect and love those guys over there."

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