Commentary

Devonta Freeman quietly does the job

FSU RB commit doesn't get a lot of publicity, but he sure does pile up the yards

Originally Published: December 20, 2010
By Corey Long | ESPN Recruiting

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Eventually running back Devonta Freeman (Miami, Fla./Central) will make the list. Might not be the list for top running backs in the nation, region or even his state. But teammate Marquis Lucas thinks he'll be on one important list real soon.

"He might win the Heisman Trophy!" said the Rutgers-bound offensive lineman.

His excitement can be understood after helping pave the way for Freeman's 307 rushing yards and three touchdowns Saturday in Central's 42-27 victory over Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips in the Class 6A Florida state championship game.

It was the second straight 300-yard effort for the 5-foot-9, 200-pounder, who had 354 yards in the state semifinals against Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay. Saturday's effort put Freeman over 2,200 yards for the season.

Now it's off to Tallahassee.

"I'm just ready to be a Seminole," Freeman said. "I signed with FSU on Tuesday and I'm enrolling in December. I couldn't be happier with the way my senior year went."

When Freeman committed to Florida State it wasn't met with the same fanfare as ESPNU 150 member James Wilder (Tampa, Fla./Plant) or even standout Eric Beverly (Jacksonville, Fla./First).

Unlike most of the top backs in the Class of 2011, Freeman didn't come into the season on the heels of a strong junior year. As a backup to Brandon Gainer, a Class of 2010 Kentucky signee, he gained a little over 500 yards on 70 carries.

Still with a strong spring Freeman was able to get attention and claimed offers from Cincinnati, Minnesota, Auburn and UCF. More offers followed but the one he received at Florida State effectively closed the process.

"Coach Jimbo [Fisher] and coach [Eddie] Gran basically told me that they will play the best players," Freeman said. "That's all I ask for from a program. If I'm the best let me play, if I'm not the best I'll do whatever I can to make the team better and work harder to be the best."

Going into Saturday's game the best way to describe Freeman was underrated despite being the leading rusher in Miami-Dade County. After Saturday's performance the descriptions ranged from eye-popping to best back in Florida.

"I believe he's the best running back in the state," said Miami Central quarterback Rakeem Cato. "But he's a quiet player and he's humble. He's not one of those guys that will shout about how great he is. He focuses on being a good teammate and helping us win ball games."

Lucas says his teammate was underrated but he expects that to change.

"He was underrated, he's basically like [St. Louis Rams RB] Steven Jackson out there," Lucas said. "We were all underrated but it's not about those rankings anymore. We've got the championship. We've got that bling bling. Just wait until he gets to FSU."

Freeman has the same outlook and hopes he can bring a title to Tallahassee much like he did to his Miami high school. With Fisher, Gran and FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett all in attendance Saturday, the relationship between Freeman and FSU is rock solid.

"I can't wait to show everyone what I'm capable of and make the coaches happy that they came after me," Freeman said. "Coach Gran and coach Jimbo made it clear that I was one of their top priorities from day one and I'm proud to be a Seminole."

Duke does all he can
ESPNU Watch List member Randy "Duke" Johnson (Miami, Fla./Norland) admitted to playing hurt for most of the playoffs and the regular season. Due to a turf toe, a shoulder injury and lingering hamstring issues, the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder only played about 40 percent of the snaps in Friday's 3A championship game.

"I played as much as I could," Johnson said. "I wish I could have done a little more and maybe we would have gotten the victory.

Johnson, a Miami commit, rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, caught a pass for 17 yards, and had three kickoff returns for 107 yards and an interception with a 51-yard return.

Future teammates face off
It was tough sledding for Wilder in the Class 5A title game as he could only gain 72 yards on 21 carries against the stout Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas defense Friday. Wilder was able to score Plant's only touchdown in the game but St. Thomas Aquinas rolled to a 29-7 victory.

"It's tough but that's part of the game," Wilder said. "I'm proud of my team. These guys are my brothers and we did everything we could."

Wilder's future teammate, wide receiver Rashad Greene, had over 100 yards and two touchdown catches for Aquinas.

After the game Wilder and Greene, along with offensive lineman Bobby Hart -- another FSU commit -- caught up for a minute.

"I just congratulated them and they said they had to get a ring since I already had one," Wilder said. "Now we'll go to the next level and try to get a ring together."

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.

Corey Long

Reporter, RecruitingNation