TALLAHASSEE – Florida State running back Khalan Laborn's breakout 140-yard output in Saturday night's spring game was a sign of what could be for the former blue-chip recruit.
It was also a reminder of what almost wasn't for the Seminoles.
With all of the hype and early success from running back Cam Akers last year, it was easy to overlook Laborn – FSU's other five-star running back from the 2017 recruiting class. But Laborn was almost as highly regarded.
The Virginia native was the nation's No. 1 all-purpose back prospect and the MVP for his team at the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando.
Then he joined the Seminoles … and didn’t play at all.
"It was frustrating," the redshirt freshman said. "I don't really talk about the past, but I'm just glad we got a new coaching staff to show what all of us can do and not just certain people."
In fairness to Jimbo Fisher and the last coaching staff, those certain people included other talented running backs. Akers broke Dalvin Cook's FSU freshman rushing record by running for 1,024 yards. Jacques Patrick (748 yards) was a former five-star recruit, too. It's also easy to second-guess redshirt decisions from afar when you're not watching every snap of practice or sitting in every meeting.
But Laborn, obviously, was not happy. He said he had second thoughts about signing with FSU, until he met with Willie Taggart and the new staff. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound athlete decided to stay.
"It just felt right," Laborn said. "It felt like running away from it ain't going to solve anything. You can learn from taking stuff head on instead of running away, so that's what I did."
FSU is thankful for it. His 91-yard touchdown showed the speed and elusiveness he brings to the backfield. It was the kind of night FSU coaches expected to see.
"We all felt like he was going to have a big game…" Taggart said. "And he did."
Laborn is optimistic that more big games are coming.
He said he feels rejuvenated after the coaching change, and Taggart's offense fits him well. It's similar to what he ran in high school, when he rushed for more than 4,000 yards in his final two seasons. It also allows room for multiple backs; each of the last two seasons, Taggart has had a pair of backs rush for at least eight touchdowns.
So even if Akers continues to star, Laborn will get his opportunities, too.
"This backfield can be as great as what people think it is," Laborn said.
Saturday night was proof.