TALLAHASSEE — There might be just one spot to take in and truly appreciate the play of Florida State left guard Rodney Hudson.
It's not from the stands on a Saturday.
It's not from your living room sofa.
It's from a chair in offensive line coach Rick Trickett's office in front of a big screen.
"Watch this," Trickett said as the laser pointer's red dot traced Hudson's movement.
Oct. 4 at Miami, quarterback Christian Ponder hit Taiwan Easterling in the left flat. Hudson, meanwhile, had burst like a sprinter 5 yards downfield and knocked linebacker Glenn Cook backward as he tried to pursue. Easterling went for 9 yards to help set up a touchdown.
"He's a great open-space player," Trickett said. "I'm talking downfield, getting into space and cutting somebody."
On another play, the 6-foot-2, 282-pound sophomore locks up and stands up Miami's 6-4, 300-pound senior tackle Dwayne Hendricks.
"Right there. You see that?" Trickett said. "He's got his man."
Hudson, 19, a freshman All-American last season and a first-team All-ACC pick this season, has emerged as the unassuming but unequivocal leader of an inordinately youthful line (three freshmen and redshirt sophomore center Ryan McMahon also start) that has exceeded expectations and helped make FSU the ACC's top scoring team.
"It's been much better than last year," Hudson said of the offense. "But there's always some things you can do better."
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, whose team meets the Seminoles in Saturday's Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, singled out Hudson as a "tremendous" player he has "a lot respect for."
Not that the casual fan necessarily notices that. The only time you usually hear an interior lineman's number or get a close-up of him on TV is when he has committed a penalty or allowed a sack. Hudson rarely does either. In his career, he has drawn two penalties. Two.
The first came Oct. 25 against Virginia Tech (a false start), which snapped a string of 1,048 plays without a yellow flag tossed his way. In the same game, he allowed a half-sack, his first since his debut in the 2007 season opener at Clemson.
"He's got great, great awareness of the game," Trickett said. "He understands football. You can't teach instinct."
Hudson's forte is his blue-collar approach.
"I try to go hard every time," he said with a modest shrug. "Coming from the household, my mama always told me to work hard. Cleaning the house or other (chores), she knew what she wanted done and how she wanted it done. I try to apply that to everything I do."
That's the trait Trickett recognized when he first spotted Hudson as an eighth-grader in Mobile, Ala. At that time, he promised that, "I'm gonna come back and get you." Trickett did just that. And when Hudson arrived at FSU in 2007, Trickett put him in the starting lineup for the opener.
Hudson, however, looked flummoxed. Trickett pulled him and didn't start him the next game. Not that Hudson fretted about it.
"I never questioned myself," he said. "I just listened to what Coach told me and tried to do it better the next time."
He ended up starting 10 games as a freshman, including at left tackle in the Music City Bowl in the wake of Daron Rose's suspension. This year, he filled in for a bit at center, a position that might be his best. Trickett said he might try to move him there in the spring.
"On every play, he goes full speed," McMahon said, "and he plays like it's his last play."
"It's pretty crazy how well he does," Ponder added. "When he knows what man he gets, he's going to get him no matter what."
While Hudson is more comfortable leading by example, he does speak up when needed. He won the team's offensive leadership award.
"I think if he hadn't gotten any awards, he'd probably be more vocal," Trickett said. "He's such a humble guy. He doesn't want people to think, 'Oh I'm vocal because I'm all-conference or I'm this or I'm that.' That's not the way he is. He's one of the best people you'd ever meet.''
Brian Landman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3347.