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A 'SPECIAL' FSU DEBUT

Bobby Bowden likes freshman Greg Reid's big plays on defense and kick returns in the opener.

Florida State defensive back/kick returner Greg Reid admitted to feeling the typical nerves expected of a freshman in his collegiate debut.

No one could tell.

From the start against Miami on Monday night, he seemed unfazed by the raucous crowd of 81,077 in Doak Campbell Stadium, the realization that millions more were watching the nationally televised Labor Day game, or the magnitude of the moment and opponent.

Although he had a limited role as a nickel back, he had an interception to stop one potential scoring drive and, in the wild fourth quarter, came up with a defensive gem. Blitzing around the right side, he jumped and hit quarterback Jacory Harris' right arm to send the ball fluttering toward defensive end Markus White, who intercepted it and scored a touchdown that gave FSU the lead.

"He played 17 plays and made more plays than the other two corners who played the whole ball game," defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said.

Not only was Reid the bright spot for an inordinately young defense that struggled in a 38-34 UM victory, he also returned three kicks for 100 yards to give the Seminolesprime field position.

"He needs to play more," coach Bobby Bowden said as his team prepares for Saturday night's game against visiting Jacksonville State. "That kid's got something special."

Everyone could tell.

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The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Reid, a prep All-American out of powerhouse Lowndes High in Valdosta, Ga., exudes a confidence atypical for a newcomer. Senior safety Jamie Robinson was taken aback this summer when Reid came up to him and noted how Robinson had two interceptions in FSU's spring game and that's what the Seminoles would need to win a national championship.

"That's not something you hear from a freshman," Robinson said. "He was already focused on what it was going to take."

And Reid has shown throughout his football career the attitude and the work ethic of someone who expected to play a part in his team's success. From the start.

"Greg is Greg," freshman defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel said of Reid's debut. "I know how competitive he is. During an all-star game that we attended ... we were competing to bring the best out of each other."

"He has that mind-set that he's going to make plays," senior cornerback Patrick Robinson said, "and it showed Monday night."

Bowden has lamented in recent years a dearth of playmakers, especially in the secondary a la Deion Sanders, LeRoy Butler, Terrell Buckley and, most recently, Antonio Cromartie.

"You can't teach a kid to make plays," Andrews said. "That's there. You can teach a guy how to put himself in a position to make a play, but again, you see a lot of guys who get in position and have difficulty finishing the play. Greg knows how to finish plays."

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Not even Sanders, the yardstick for all cornerbacks to come at FSU, started for much of his freshman year. He was primarily a nickel back in passing situations, giving him time to improve his fundamentals and learn the system.

That's the plan for Reid, which is fine with him.

"I feel (junior) Ochuko (Jenije) and some of the other guys have better technique than me," he said. "In some ways I'm better than them in some spots but they're a lot better than me because they played last year. Right now I'm just looking forward to playing my nickel spot and just getting better at that."

He pointed out that he blew an assignment and, although he made a couple of plays, he could have done more.

"Playmakers make real big plays at the end of the game," he said.

Reid may have changed the game at certain points, but not ultimately the outcome. And that's what he wants more than anything. Still, Andrews said a problem Reid has is he has tried to make a big play on every play in practice and that's how to get beat, not just for a completion, but for a touchdown.

"We aren't going to play him more until he's ready," Andrews said. "That's one of our projects this week - to get him more involved in the game. He needs more reps. We feel the same way Coach Bowden does."

You could tell.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347. Check his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/seminoles.

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