Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Younger Sims is Florida State Seminoles' 'unsung guy'

Florida State junior running back Marcus Sims barely had made it out of the visitors' locker room Oct. 16 at North Carolina State when his cell phone started ringing.

"All your hard work is paying off," his big brother, Ernie Sims III, the former FSU All-America linebacker now in his third year with the Detroit Lions, said breathlessly.

"I just kept at it in practice and got some confidence in myself and when I got into the game, I had an opportunity to make some plays," Marcus answered calmly.

Some plays? Come on.

He blocked well and ran powerfully between the tackles in short-yardage situations with four carries for 12 yards, including a 5-yard gain to convert a third down. He also showed the soft hands and field presence of an H-back with five catches for 38 yards, both career highs. Three of his receptions netted first downs and two came on the go-ahead, fourth-quarter touchdown drive in the 26-17 win.

Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher called Sims an "unsung guy" in the game that helped the Seminoles (5-1, 2-1 ACC) climb back into the Associated Press poll at No. 24 entering Saturday's conference game against visiting Virginia Tech (5-2, 2-1).

"We've been waiting to get him back," coach Bobby Bowden said. "I made the statement to ya'll that he's been running better than I've ever seen him run. And he has. So Jimbo's been wanting to get him back to work him into the game plan more."

Sims' story isn't simply one of a player finally having the chance to shine.

It's one of resiliency, determination and maturation — on and off the field.

Sims, 21, a heralded prospect out of Tallahassee's North Florida Christian in 2006 who was wooed by Southern California, Clemson and Miami, played in eight games as a true freshman and won a starting job at fullback last season.

But in the fourth game, against Alabama, he fractured his right ankle. Dealing with the disappointment of his first severe injury, not to mention months of tedious rehabilitation, weren't his only troubles.

There was a misdemeanor disorderly conduct arrest in March (an adjudication of guilt was withheld in the case and as a first-time offender, he paid a fine), according to law enforcement records. Then there was his involvement in the academic misconduct scandal, which meant a four-game suspension this season.

"During that whole time, I started seeing things in a whole different perspective — what I needed to do and how I needed to work to get to the level that I wanted; once I saw the target, I locked on it," he said.

"The thing that worries you when someone gets sidetracked is how he's going to react to adversity," said his father, Ernie Jr. "Marcus got himself back together. He is on track to graduate. Were we concerned? Very much so. But did he turn a corner? Did he realize, 'Hey, I need to start making the right decisions'? Yes."

You couldn't help but notice that in the fall. The 6-foot Sims not only dropped about 7 pounds to get to a leaner, stronger 230, he has also displayed a new mentality.

"He's practicing much better; coming to practice with a purpose, not to just get through it," Fisher said. "That comes with maturity."

The extra bounce in Sims' step can also be attributed to feeling less weight from the name on the back of his jersey. He is, after all, the son of two highly successful former Seminole athletes (dad, a former Jefferson High standout running back, played for Bowden at FSU in 1977-78 and 1980-81, and mother Alice was an All-America sprinter at FSU from 1980-83) and the sibling of another celebrated Seminole.

Heck, he has been called "Ernie's little brother" his whole life and, while Sims said Ernie has always been positive and a "motivating" force for him, his surname increased fans' expectations and made it tougher for him to create an identity.

"I've definitely gotten a lot more comfortable in my own shoes," he said. "I'm keeping my head no matter what anybody says. I'm just going to keep working and keep doing what I have to do to help the team."

"It wasn't a case of him showing anybody he had it. He already had it," his father said. "(USC coach) Pete Carroll and all those other coaches knew that. He's just filling the role that Jimbo wanted him to be in. … What you're seeing is Marcus is making a tough situation into a good one with all that he's been through as a player and a student."

No wonder the call from brother Ernie last week ended the way it did:

"Keep it up. I'm proud of you."

Brian Landman can be reached at or (813) 226-3347.

Younger Sims is Florida State Seminoles' 'unsung guy' 10/23/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 23, 2008 9:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Whatever USF has to say about Temple waits till Thursday


    "The holes were wide open. Anyone could have run through them."

    South Florida Bulls cornerback Mazzi Wilkins (23) intercepts a pass during the second half of the home opener for the South Florida Bulls against the Stony Brook Seawolves at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Five reasons why Kentucky can beat Florida for the first time since 1986


    By Matt Baker

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's 30-game winning streak over Kentucky is one of the most impressive feats in the country.

    Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) celebrates Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson's  (24) touch down in the first quarter, putting Florida on the board 6-0 during the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times

  3. Once targeted by the Bucs, Dalvin Cook thrills for the Vikings


    How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) slips a tackle by Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) to score a touchdown Sunday in Pittsburgh. [AP photo]
  4. Boxer Jake LaMotta, immortalized in 'Raging Bull,' dies at 95


    MIAMI — Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion whose life in and out of the ring was depicted in the film Raging Bull, for which Robert DeNiro won an Academy Award, has died, his fiancee said Wednesday. He was 95.

    Jake LaMotta, retired professional boxer, shakes hands with Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) on the field before the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15, 2015. LaMotta was on hand to sign autographs in the Ted Williams Museum.
  5. J.R. Sweezy shows what Bucs were missing


    By Greg Auman

    TAMPA —- Sunday's season-opening win against the Bears saw the debut of 13 Bucs, a mix of rookies and free-agent veterans.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard J.R. Sweezy (73), seen at center, runs through drills during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, July 31, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times