Saturday, January 20, 2018
Colleges

Receiving trio grabs hold of FSU Seminoles

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State's wide receivers began the offseason with a position meeting.

On its surface, the group summit doesn't sound like anything atypical. The receivers simply stated they had to collectively elevate their practice habits and take on a pronounced leadership role with two-year starting quarterback EJ Manuel and starting receiver Rodney Smith exhausting their eligibility.

But as the offseason progressed, the FSU receivers dwindled.

Those who sat in the meeting faded away, chipping at what was arguably the team's deepest position of offense. Those who stayed still look at that conversation as a turning point.

From the turmoil came a closer bond between FSU's three starting receivers: Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw. Together they have formed the top receiving trio in the country and are on the verge of making their mark on the NCAA record book.

"We felt like that, once we understood EJ (Manuel) was going to the NFL, right then, that moment we realized it's definitely going to be somebody new, somebody inexperienced," Greene said. "We have to do that job helping this person, whoever it may be, to step up.

"We feel like we make the offense go as a receiving corps. We just set that goal that whatever slack he had, we'd pick up."

Jameis Winston ended up winning the job over Jacob Coker in fall camp and went on to become the second freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

Quietly at the core of Winston's success has been his receivers, who could make FSU just the fifth team in Division I-A history to field three 1,000-yard receivers in a season.

Greene (67 receptions, 981 receiving yards, 9 TDs), Shaw (52, 929, 6) and Benjamin (50, 957, 14) are on pace to hit the 1,000-yard mark against Auburn in the BCS title game on Jan. 6.

Late Tuesday: Cornerback Rashaad Reynolds returned two fumbles for touchdowns, helping Oregon State beat Boise State 38-23 in the Hawaii Bowl at Honolulu. The Beavers (7-6) stopped a five-game slide in handing the Broncos (8-5) their worst loss in two months.

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