The Seminoles have advanced to the Super Regional for the 17th time in 21 years since the format changed in 1999. Louisiana State has been this position almost as many times as they are playing in their 14th Super Regional. Florida State advanced by dominating their regional with a 13-7 victory over FAU in their opening game and then pounding the no. 4 national seed UGA twice 12-3 and 10-1. The Tigers were not as dominant after defeating Stony Brook 17-4 they needed to late inning scores to defeat Southern Mississippi by a scores of 8-4 and 6-4.
The Super Regional format is a best of three series with the host team playing as the home team in game one, the traveling team will be the home team in game two and the home team for the final game — if necessary — is decided by a coin flip. The Tigers play in Alex Box Stadium which is the most electric venues in all of college baseball giving LSU an advantage by creating an intense atmosphere. The stadium seats of 10,000 and LSU has been among the nation’s attendance leaders finishing No. 1 from 1996-2018.
Leon Washington is a former 5-star recruit out of Jacksonville who committed to the ’Noles in 2002 as, according to Rivals at the time, the No. 1 cornerback recruit in the country. He of course switched to running back, and as a freshman he backed up the indomitable Greg Jones. Jones got the majority of the carries, but it’s fitting that Washington really got his start that year as a special teams contributor. He returned 42 kicks that year for over 600 yards, including a 97-yard kickoff return against Clemson. Sadly, Jones would suffer a serious knee injury in November that year, and while he didn’t start in Jones’ place - that went to senior Nick Maddox - Washington’s rushing carries rose significantly. He saved his biggest game for Florida, where he ran 26 times for 134 yards and a touchdown and led FSU to a 31-14 beatdown. In all, Washington racked up 937 all-purpose yards as a true freshman.
He started his 2003 sophomore season off with a bang against the North Carolina Tarheels in the season opener. A quick eleven-yard reception on FSU’s first drive and a 27-yard rush on the Seminoles’ second drive had FSU in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately, Washington dislocated his elbow and wouldn’t play again until five weeks later against Miami. Against Wake Forest two weeks after that he had a game to remember, returning seven punts for 159 yards, including an electric 65-yard return for a touchdown. It was FSU’s first punt return since Peter Warrick returned one against Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
In November the ’Noles would clinch another ACC Atlantic title as Washington sealed it with a twelve-yard rushing touchdown in double overtime of a 50-44 win against NC State head coach Chuck Amato and quarterback Philip Rivers. Washington had 121 yards on just 17 carries. He finished that season with 387 yards rushing at an excellent 5.2 yard per rush clip and 863 total all-purpose yards.
As his role in the offense increased following Jones’ departure to the NFL Washington’s contributions on special teams declined. He had his best season in 2004, rushing for 949 yards and seven touchdowns at a whopping 6.9 yards per rush, good for second nationally. That includes a 153-yard rushing performance against North Carolina followed by a 164-yard rumble against Syracuse the very next week. He finished that season off with an incredible 12-carry 193-yard one-man January 1st show against West Virginia as quarterback Chris Rix turned the ball over five times in the first half. Washington led the ’Noles to a 30-18 win and took home the Gator Bowl MVP award. His 16.3 yard per rush average is a single-game school record. Washington finished the season with 1,123 all-purpose yards and led the ACC in rushing. He was also named the team’s most valuable player and earned second-team All-ACC honors.
In 2005 as a senior, Washington’s rushing yards declined, in part due to ankle issues, but he only contributed more to the passing game, catching 25 balls for 279 yards and a very memorable touchdown:
Leon Washington 61 yd TD Reception at FSU - YouTube
In all, Washington ran in the Garnet and Gold for 2,041 yards - the 10th player in FSU history to rush for 2,000 - and 12 touchdowns and caught 55 passes for 481 yards and a touchdown. He had 635 punt return yards and 709 kickoff return yards and two total touchdowns. Last but not least, he was the first player under Bobby Bowden to score in five different ways - by rush, reception, kick return, punt return, and fumble recovery.
Washington was drafted with the 117th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. In just the second preseason game of his career Washington returned a kickoff 87 yards for a score. Washington was a good all-around player for several years, but his best contributions came on special teams. In 2007 he scored three kick returns for touchdowns. In 2008 Washington had 2,332 all-purpose yards, the most of any running back in the league, including another 94-yard kick return for a touchdown, and was named to the Pro Bowl and as a first-team All-Pro as a kick returner. Two seasons later, after a compound fracture in his leg ended his 2009 season, he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks, where he again had three kick returns for touchdowns. In 2012 he made his second Pro Bowl. From 2006 to 2012 Washington was third in the NFL in kick return yardage. Nobody returned more kickoffs back for touchdowns.
In all, Washington retired after 9 seasons with 2,271 career rushing yards for 16 touchdowns at 4.7 yards per rush and 159 reception yards and two more touchdowns. He had 1,793 career punt return yards and 7,553 kick return yards and a whopping eight kick return touchdowns. He had 12,898 career all-purpose yards. Washington is now a WCF Minority Coaching Assistantship/Offense & Special Teams assistant coach with the Detroit Lions.
One eye-opening example of Blackman’s progress, to Taggart, came after the spring. FSU’s “Leadership Council” of players with the coach to tell him things they needed or wanted in order to be successful. After hearing a list of wants, Blackman intervened and asked “what are we going to give coach?”
Werner helped found an organization that looks to help kids follow in his footsteps by placing international football players in American schools. FSU has already offered two other German-born players this cycle.
While there are no first rounders on the current roster there is a possibility that a few players’ names could be called tonight in the second round. In order to be eligible for the draft you must fall into one of the following categories:
High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed
Since stepping on to campus as the top-rated high school player in the nation to attend college in 2016, Drew Mendoza has not disappointed. The junior third baseman will more than likely hear his name in tonight’s second which means he would be offered enough money to forgo his senior season.
Given the opportunity to improve his draft stock, J.C. Flowers took full advantage. Playing only centerfield his first two years the junior took on the role of closer in 2019. He allowed only 4 runs in 23.2 innings and recorded 11 saves all while hitting a career high 13 homeruns at he plate. Scouts are split on whether they foresee Flowers as a pitcher or as a freakishly athletic outfielder but his ability to do both might cause him to be overdrafted.
Drew Parrish will more than likely not hear his name tonight but should Tuesday afternoon during the 3rd through 10th round. The left-hander did not have the same success this season that he saw in 2018 but major league teams are more concerned with his potential as opposed to his on the field results. If drafted in the first ten rounds it would be difficult to count on Parrish to return one more year.
As current underclassmen, seniors and committed high school players have their names called over the next three days we will update this article.
For the first time in this countdown the player being featured took the field for special teams plays only. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t have an impact on both offense and defense.
Born in Scotland, Graham Gano matriculated to Florida State by way of J.M. Tate high school in Cantonment, Florida (near Pensacola). Gano’s high school career was anything but ordinary, with his booming leg earning him a USA Today first-team All-American selection. Not just a weapon on the football field, Gano also was a standout sprinter. In fact, he was a part of three state-title winning track and field teams, with Gano winning the 3A District 1 100 meter dash with a time of 10.55.
Despite his high school accomplishments, Gano began his FSU career strictly as a punter. Gary “The Weed” Cismesia handled the placekicking duties Gano’s first three years on campus, finishing as a Lou Groza award semi-finalist in 2006 and 2007, leading some to be worried about replacing the departing Cismesia heading into the 2008 season. Those concerns were magnified when Gano tore the meniscus in his right knee just a couple weeks before the season. With Zach Hobby going just 1-4 on field goals in the first two games of the season, what was FSU going to do?
Gano to the rescue.
Becoming the first player in 33 years to handle place kicking, punting, and kickoff duties for Bobby Bowden, Gano overcame the knee injury and turned in a season for the ages.
All-American? Check. Highest scoring kicker in college football? Check. ACC leader in field goals made, including not a single miss from inside 50 yards? Check. Average nearly 43 yards a punt, including landing 36% of your punts inside the opponent’s 20 yard line? Check.
Add it all up and the result was Gano becoming the second Seminole to win the Lou Groza award that recognizes the nation’s best kicker.
The season featured a number of highlights for the nearly automatic kicker. Among them were his game sealing field goals late in the fourth quarter of back to back games against NC State (53 yards) and Virginia Tech (46 yards). Both kicks gave FSU two-possession leads with 2:14 or less to play.
fsu vs nc state 2008 second half - YouTube
During the course of the year, Gano made five consecutive 50+ yard attempts, including one in four consecutive games. The five FGs from more than 50 yards is an FSU single-season record.
But perhaps his biggest highlight of the season, indeed his career, came during the first quarter of the Champs Sports Bowl against Wisconsin. With FSU struggling to get going offensively, Gano pinned the Badgers inside their own 3 yard line not once, not twice, but three times in the first quarter. Incredibly, Gano didn’t even need his teammates to down any of the punts, instead angling two to sneak out of bounds just before the endzone and getting a third to die like a Brooks Koepka wedge shot on the one yard line.
College Football - ''Champs Sports Bowl Florida State vs Wisconsin'' (Recorded Dec 27, 2008, ESPN) - YouTube
The Seminoles would go on to blow out Wisconsin 42-13 and Gano’s ridiculous display of punting earned him the Champs Bowl MVP award.
Despite the stellar end to his college career, Gano went undrafted during the 2009 NFL Draft. Undeterred, the Seminole caught on with the Washington Redskins and spent three seasons in D.C. during which time he broke the franchise record for longest field goal with a 59 yarder against the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. The next year he headed south to join the Carolina Panthers, where he still is a standout kicker. In 2017, Gano was named to his first Pro Bowl and in 2018 he set another franchise record, nailing a 63 yard game-winning field goal against the New York Giants.
Panthers Graham Gano 63 Yards Game Winning Field Goal Vs New York Giants - YouTube
“It’s been years and I get it. But when it comes to offensive line, it only takes one guy to be bad and they all look bad. They’re all not bad,” Taggart said to fans during his final Seminole Boosters spring tour stop in Miami Gardens on Friday. “After three years, that’s all I’ve been hearing, how bad our offensive line is. I hear it from our fan base. I hear it from other fan bases. To be honest with you, I’m tired of hearing it.
“...I think our guys will give us a little more if they know we believe in them. Let’s leave that to our other fans, to talk about our guys. Let’s encourage our guys, let’s have an expectation for them. Our guys know that in order for that to change, we’ve got to do it.”
’Noles advance to Super Regional for the 17th time in 21 year format.
Florida State (39-21) is playing at an extremely high level after winning the Athens regional in dominating fashion. The ’Noles opened with a 13-7 victory over FAU and then drubbed the no. 4 national seed UGA twice by a combined score of 22-4.
They will face a Louisiana State team that swept through their regional by defeating Stony Brook 17-4 and Southern Mississippi twice by a score of 8-4 and 6-4. The Tigers (40-24) earned a regional host birth and the no. 13 national seed despite a sub par season by LSU standards. The fact they made it to the final game of the SEC tournament gave them the nod over schools with similar resumes.
The last time Florida State played in Baton Rouge Mike Martin was in just his 4th season as head coach of the Seminoles. FSU played a four game, home and home series, against LSU in 1983. The ’Noles split their two home games in Tallahassee and won both games on the road. More recently, the Seminoles played the Tigers in 2017 when the two teams squared off in Omaha in the College World Series. LSU took the opening game of the series by a 5-4 score and then ended FSU’s season by beating them a second time 7-4.
The Super Regional format is a best of three series that is played either Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday. Florida State will learn their schedule later this week but the NCAA couldn’t dream up a better scenario or atmosphere than a prime time match-up featuring LSU and FSU on Friday and Saturday night at Alex Box Stadium.
Florida State (39-21) extended their season on Sunday night pounding Georgia (45-17) by a 10-1 final score. This marks the ’Noles 17th Super Regional appearance since the format was added in 1999. The Seminoles jumped out to a 5-0 lead through three innings and never looked back. They are now one win shy of their 40th victory, a milestone they have achieved every season under Mike Martin.
Georgia’s outstanding pitching staff was no match for the Seminoles this weekend as Florida State’s bats stayed lit for the entirety of both matchups. Following a leadoff single from senior Mike Salvatore to start of the evening strong, Reese Albert smashed his seventh home run of the season giving the Noles an early, 2-0 lead. The ’Noles have now hit 79 home runs so far this season, the most since Florida State hit 86 in 2010.
The Seminoles couldn’t have asked for a better start from Conor Grady. The right-hander pitched seven innings, matching the longest start of his career. He wasn’t overpowering, but he did a great job mixing up his pitches against the ’Dawgs. The sophomore walked two and only struck out three, but he allowed only two extra-base hits and scattered four singles. If Grady can give the Seminoles effective innings like tonight, you have to like their chances with the way they are swinging the bat moving forward.
Conor has tied a career-high with 7.0 IP and works around a leadoff single!
It’s no secret that Florida State’s defense has been difficult to watch at times this season, but the Seminoles’ success at the plate trickled over not only tonight, but over the entire weekend. While officially there were three errors throughout the Regional, two came from De Sedas in Saturday’s game. Overall, the ’Noles made some fantastic plays at every position and turned five double plays in the past two games.
Carter Smith stretches to finish the double play at first and the Noles are unscathed in the third.
With tonight’s win, Florida State advances and will play the winner of the Baton Rouge regional. LSU is currently 2-0 as the host of that regional and the Tigers play Southern Mississippi tonight at 9PM EST. Assuming that the Tigers win their regional, FSU will travel next weekend for a three-game series with a trip to Omaha on the line.
A win tonight sends the ’Noles to a Super Regional.
Florida State is in the driver’s seat after they throttled Georgia last night sending UGA into the loser’s bracket. The Bulldogs had an elimination game this afternoon that went about as good as they possible ask of as their Sunday started pitched a complete game shutout preserving their bullpen for tonight’s game and tomorrow if necessary.
As good as UGA’s pitching has been their three weekend guys are done. They do still have some solid bullpen arms left while FSU does not have a reliable arm outside of their closer J.C. Flowers. With the way the Seminoles have been swinging the bat I would say the advantage FSU has over UGA’s offense is greater than what UGA has of FSU’s pitching.