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    May 2014 Archives

    Former FSU LB Smith signs NFL contract

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    Courtesy of

    JACKSONVILLE - Telvin Smith did his work first on Tuesday.

    Then, he fulfilled a dream.

    Smith, a rookie outside linebacker, did the first part by participating in the first day of the Jaguars 2014 organized team activities at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields, and then did the second when he signed his rookie contract with the organization shortly thereafter.

    "This makes it real," Smith said with a smile moments after signing. "It's no longer a thought anymore. It's reality. This is what I'm living now. A lot of people say, 'I wish I could make it. I wish I could do this or do that.' I withstood the storm.

    "I passed all the tests and I got here. It's just a dream come true."

    Smith (6-feet-3, 218 pounds), a fifth-round selection from Florida State University, became the fifth player from the team's 2014 draft class to sign with the team.

    "It's something you put so much time into, to reach the professional level," he said. "It feels great. It's amazing."

    But while he said Tuesday was about realizing how far he had come to get to the NFL it was just as much about knowing how far he has left to go.

    "Now is not the time to say, 'Oh, I made it and I did it,'" he said. "Tiger Woods says, 'When you feel like you're arrived that's when you really never arrive because how do you know when you've reached the peak.'"

    Former Florida State stars Kelvin Benjamin and Devonta Freeman will each participate in the annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Details below, courtesy of the NFL Players Association:

    LOS ANGELES, May 27, 2014 - More than 35 top rookies from the 2014 NFL Draft class will come together in Los Angeles May 29-31 to learn the business of football at the 20th annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere. A robust roster of business partners will be on site to grow their brands and promote their products through the utilization of group player rights facilitated by NFL Players Inc. (NFLPI).

    The 2014 NFLPA Rookie Premiere partners include Panini America, Topps, Nike, EA SPORTS, Pepsi, USA TODAY Sports, Bose, élevée, Uber, Original Retro Brand, and Fandeavor.

    The three-day event, hosted by NFLPI, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA, will also feature one of the most thrilling moments for any rookie - wearing their official Nike team uniforms for the first time during photo shoots with trading card companies Panini America and Topps at LA Memorial Coliseum.

    "There is no event more important for NFL Players Inc. partners than NFLPA Rookie Premiere," said Panini America Vice President of Marketing Jason Howarth. "The content that's captured and the long-term relationships developed with players during the week set the stage for our entire NFL product calendar and are key elements in driving our products for the 2014 season and beyond."

    Throughout the event, players will gain information to assist in the development of their professional careers. The union's annual orientation includes seminars focused on financial planning, brand building, group player rights, and social media best practices. Among the featured guest speakers are former and active NFL players Marshall Faulk, Willie McGinest, Torry Holt, Brandon Williams, Daunte Culpepper, Kevin Bentley, Jamaal Charles, Israel Idonije, and Austin Pettis. Additional speakers include NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and NFLPI President Keith Gordon.

    "NFLPA Rookie Premiere is an unparalleled opportunity for our partners to engage with tomorrow's most influential athletes today," said NFL Players Inc. President Keith Gordon. "For the first time as professionals, players will learn about the business of football from fellow players, union leadership, and industry experts as they start to build a game plan to succeed beyond their playing careers."

    Launched in Los Angeles in 1994, NFLPA Rookie Premiere is unique across professional sports as the event provides business partners with unmatched access to many of the NFL's most promising and marketable young stars. Each year, NFLPI facilitates approximately 100 individual player service deals for NFLPA Rookie Premiere participants. The event also generates numerous opportunities for current and former players.

    Among the rookies participating in the 2014 NFLPA Rookie Premiere are quarterback Blake Bortles (Central Florida, Jacksonville Jaguars), quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville, Minnesota Vikings), defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina, Houston Texans), wide receiver Marqise Lee (Southern Cal, Jacksonville Jaguars), linebacker Khalil Mack (Buffalo, Oakland Raiders), quarterback Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M, Cleveland Browns), and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Clemson, Buffalo Bills). A complete list of participants can be found below and at

    For the first time, five players who competed in the 2014 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will participate. These players include linebacker Kevin-Pierre Louis (Boston College, Seattle Seahawks), quarterback Connor Shaw (South Carolina, Cleveland Browns), defensive lineman Khyri Thornton (Southern Miss, Green Bay Packers), tight end Asa Watson (N.C. State, New England Patriots), and linebacker Avery Williamson (Kentucky, Tennessee Titans).

    Media and fans can follow official accounts on Twitter (@NFLPA@NFLPlayersInc), Facebook (NFLPA), Google+ (+NFLPA), Instagram (NFLPA) and YouTube (NFL Players Association) and via #RookiePremiere for updates, exclusive photos, video, and news throughout 2014 NFLPA Rookie Premiere.

    About NFL Players Inc.
    NFL Players Inc. is the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association. NFLPI has been a trusted resource since 1994, delivering access to the influence, power and personal stories of NFL players. NFLPI is a "one-stop shop" for businesses seeking licensing rights, access to players through hospitality and events, marketing strategy and player procurement. For more information, please visit

    About the NFL Players Association
    Established in 1956, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) is a non-profit, professional sports union. The NFLPA represents all NFL players in matters concerning wages, hours and working conditions and protects their rights as professional football players; ensures that the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement are met; negotiates and monitors retirement and insurance benefits; provides other member services and activities; provides assistance to charitable and community organizations; and enhances and defends the image of players and their profession, on and off the field. For more information, visit


    2014 NFLPA Rookie Premiere Participant Roster*









    Fresno State

     Green Bay Packers




    Kent State

    Pittsburgh Steelers


    Odell, Jr.


    Louisiana State

    New York Giants




    Florida State

    Carolina Panthers




    Central Florida

    Jacksonville Jaguars





    New York Jets





    Minnesota Vikings





    Chicago Bears




    South Carolina

    Houston Texans




    Oregon State

    New Orleans Saints




    North Carolina

    Detroit Lions




    Texas A&M

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers




    Florida State

    Atlanta Falcons




    Eastern Illinois

    New England Patriots




    Louisiana State

    Cincinnati Bengals




    Ohio State

    San Francisco 49ers




    Louisiana State

    Miami Dolphins





    Denver Broncos




    Southern California

    Jacksonville Jaguars





    Oakland Raiders




    Texas A&M

    Cleveland Browns





    St. Louis Rams





    Philadelphia Eagles





    Cincinnati Bengals




    Ole Miss

    Indianapolis Colts





    Kansas City




    Boston College

    Seattle Seahawks





    Seattle Seahawks




    Penn State

    Jacksonville Jaguars





    Tennessee Titans





    Houston Texans





    Tampa Bay Buccaneers




    South Carolina

    Cleveland Browns





    Kansas City Chiefs




    Virginia Tech

    Arizona Cardinals




    Southern Miss

    Green Bay Packers





    Buffalo Bills




    N.C. State

    New England Patriots





    Cleveland Browns





    Tennessee Titans

    Sporting News' college football preview magazine is now on retailers' shelves and the publication's pre-season All-America team features six Florida State players.

    Highlighted by the first-team selections of tackle Cameron Erving, guard Tre' Jackson and kicker Roberto Aguayo, the second-team features quarterback Jameis Winston and kick returner Kermit Whitfield. 

    Cornerback Ronald Darby earned a third-team nod.

    May 15, 2014 Update:

    Ronald Darby has been named to the 2014 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List.

    Video: Fisher talks ACC football schedule

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    Benjamin draft transcript: Panthers GM, head coach

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    Courtesy of the Carolina Panthers, here is the transcription from Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Ron Rivera's interview with the media after the Panthers selected FSU wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin with the 28th pick of the NFL Draft's first round:

    General Manager Dave Gettleman Opening Statement

    Dave Gettleman: How are we doing this evening? We are doing well. You can't coach 6'5, 240 lbs. He has a lot of upside and we really vetted Kelvin (Benjamin) out. (Panthers wide receivers coach) Ricky (Proehl) went down and worked him out, we had Kelvin here and he spent a full day with us. We had him on the board, took him to lunch and took him to dinner. Don Gregory (Panthers Director of College Scouting) and I spent an hour with him, and we feel really good about this draft pick, really good.  He has a lot of upside and he gives us a legitimate chance to have a number one (receiver). One of the things he'll definitely do for us is he is a red zone threat right now and other teams will not be able to have eight guys in the box. We want to run the ball and that's an important part of who we are. As we like to say, 15 out of 16 games last year we ran for 100 yards. He will allow us to continue to do this. He is a terrific kid, he has come a long way and we are real excited to have him. We really are.

    RE: On when Benjamin can become a number one receiver

    DG: We had Kelvin in here, had him on the board and he showed really good football instincts. The process is, he'll get on the board with Ricky, go to lunch, come back and then we'll ask 'ok, what can you tell me that we did two hours ago?' He really did a good job. Ricky and (Panthers Offensive Coordinator) Mike (Shula) are very pleased with the football instinct that he has. Every rookie goes through a learning process. Star (Lotulelei) did last year and KK (Kawann Short) did last year. The interesting thing about Kelvin is that this was his first year as a big time player. What gets you excited is during his last four games, he caught 21 passes for a 21-yard average and the winning touchdown against Auburn. The biggest thing when you draft a kid in the first round, once you've decided and assessed that he has the PQ's, the physical qualities to play, the next thing you have to assess is 'is it going to be too big for him and how quickly is he going to acclimate?' We don't feel it's going to be too big for him and like any other rookie it's going to be a process. We feel good about it.

    RE: On if the first round went how he hoped it would

    DG: It did. Don Gregory said he'd be there. We had another guy that we thought might be there who was gone. Don felt he'd be there and he was the highest rated guy on our board. Again, I think like last year, value matched need and we got fortunate again. I think he is going to come right in; we have a great receivers room. Jerricho (Cotchery) and Jason (Avant) are going to take him under their wing and help guide him along. I'm sure that Cam's (Newton) not mad at me now (jokingly). Obviously, there are a lot of reasons that everyone in the room is going to want him to succeed.

    RE: On what set Benjamin a part from the other wide receivers who were still available

    DG: You can't coach 6'5, 240 lbs., with a 34-inch arm length and 10-inch hands. You can't coach that. This guy has unusual ball skills. He has what we call a very big strike zone. One of the things that I have done with the scouts is 'does he make catches when he is pressured?' You are going to be pressured in this league, I don't care who you are. That was a big point of emphasis as we worked our way down through the list. Kelvin consistently made catches when he was pressured. 

    RE: On if Benjamin's route running is a concern

    DG: The only receiver in this draft whose route running you can't question is Odell Beckham, Jr. We all have to learn. Like I said to a reporter last year who was banging on one of our young players about how he hadn't come along as quickly as he felt he should. I asked him to 'pull out his first two years of articles that he wrote and tell me how many of them were Pulitzer Prize articles.' Like anything else, he is going to have to learn. Through our vetting process, we have no doubt that he is capable.

    RE: On how nice it is to draft a player who can eventually become a number one receiver

    Ron Rivera: I think it's very nice. Again, it goes back to the philosophy we talked about, protecting the quarterback and then putting playmakers around him as well. Here's another young man who is going to add to that group. I'm very pleased with what has been going on in that room. As Dave talked about Jason and Jerricho, our two veteran guys that are going to be able to show this young man the ropes. We're excited about him. He adds a little something that's different from the other guys we have in that room. His size and his catch radius are phenomenal and we are excited about that. We think he has the opportunity to ascend. He has a high ceiling, so we'll see how he fits in and how things continue to grow as far as our offense is concerned.

    RE: On if drafting a wide receiver in the first round was the plan all along

    DG: We knew it was a wide receiver heavy draft, we knew that. In January - February, you know it's a wide receiver heavy draft. You don't really know how many of them are going to be number ones. You don't know how many of them are going to be legitimate first rounders.  What happens is, you get into the film and you have your meetings. We had a meeting in February and there was a good indicator that there were going to be five or six legitimate first round wide receivers. My responsibility is to look at everything long term with a big lens. I can't have tunnel vision and we can't deal with check boxes. There is more that goes into it. Like I said, we felt that it was going to be wide receiver heavy and we'd get a good young rookie receiver at some point in time. 

    RE: On if Cam Newton has ever expressed concern about the wide receiver position

    DG: Not to me. 

    RE: On if he plans to draft any additional wide receivers

    DG: We're going to see how it falls. We don't draft for need, we draft for value. If you draft for need you are going to get burned.

    RE: On vetting Benjamin and making sure his football acumen was where you wanted it to be

    DG: We do that with a lot of kids. We'll do it here, we'll do it when the scouts go visit. You are only allowed 30 visits; you know that, so you bring in those guys. If you have more than the 30, which you always do, when the coaches go work them out they are doing the same thing. They are going to put them on the board; they are going to go through that. They are going to go to lunch and then come back. The college game by and large is really kind of a different game. You watch these receivers catch 120 balls and they have 60 smoke screens, and they run three routes. That's why I made that comment. (Odell) Beckham is the only legitimate, run the entire route receiver in the draft. He's it.

    RE: On if there was a specific game that jumped out to him about Benjamin

    DG: In the Florida game he was spectacular. I watch things chronologically, from the beginning of the season until the end, for a couple reasons.  Number one, you want to see if the kid is improving. It doesn't make a difference the position you want to see what kind of improvement there is and that's a big part of it. That is a big part of it. KK (Short) last year, started off a little slow and he kept coming and coming and coming. That's what Kelvin Benjamin did this year. He was extremely special over those last four games.

    RE: On what Benjamin improved on throughout last season

    DG: Everything. His entire game, physical and mental.

    RR: You could say that about a lot of the players on that board. There are a lot of names people don't know and then all of a sudden at the end of it people are talking. It's about their production. 

    RE: On if his academics were of any concern

    DG: No, not at all.

    RE: On what he saw in terms of Benjamin's blocking

    RR: The thing you really like about him, especially with what they do, is he has the ability to not just get in a guy's way, but to move a guy. Part of helping a running back or a quarterback in terms of their running ability is to help create a space for him. He has that kind of leverage and strength. A thing that we really liked too was that he is not afraid to use them. A lot of guys come in and they are not want-to-guys, they are willing guys. They are willing to do it. You want a guy who wants to do it and that's him. He wanted to go and block and do those types of things. There were a lot of good things in terms of not just his blocking and wanting to block, but the other awareness things that he did downfield. Understanding that if a quarterback is in trouble, how to find a crease and sit down and present that target when the quarterback when he is scrambling. That will be important, especially with Cam's ability to stay mobile. 

    RE: On if there were any potential trades before placing the pick

    DG: No calls.

    RE: If Gettleman was surprised the Panthers didn't receive any calls about trading for the team's pick

    DG: Do I seem surprised? Maybe they knew I'd get it in too quick.

    RE: If Gettleman ever considered moving up in the Draft

    DG: No. We have seven draft picks, I want to keep those seven draft picks.

    RE: If Gettleman contemplated trading down

    DG: It depended on the way the board fell and the board fell and we didn't have to.

    RE: Why Gettleman felt Benjamin would be available at No. 28

    DG: You can get 10 evaluators in a room and you'll get 10 people seeing 10 different things. I felt in my "kishkes" that he'd be there. You know what "kishkes" are? That's Yiddish for your guts. I felt he'd be there. We looked at every tape on this kid. We looked at every ball he caught, every ball thrown to him, and we felt very strongly that he was a first-round talent.

    RE: If Benjamin has run the whole route tree in college

    DG: More than most. More than most.

    RE: Why the team chose Benjamin instead of Marqise Lee

    DG: Size. You can't coach 6-5, 240, 34-inch arms and 10-inch hands. You can't coach it, I've tried. It doesn't work.

    RE: Rivera's feelings on the pick

    RR: I'm very pleased. I'm thrilled about it. I really am. Again, when you get a talent, a young man with that type of ability, all you're going to do is create situations and opportunities for other people as well. When we brought him in and we had an opportunity to sit down and visit I was really taken by who he is in terms of a young man. He was very direct, very forward, talked about what he wanted to accomplish, and it really wasn't about him, it was about us. That was what really impressed me was he talked about his teammates, the things his teammates did for him and how they helped him and his coaches. He gave a lot of praise to a lot of people. He talked about all the different things that went on, but one of the things I thought was really telling was I asked him about the catch in the Championship game and I said "Did you know you were going to catch it?" He said "I knew I was going to catch it." I said "You knew and everybody else in that stadium knew the ball was going to you that you were going to catch it?" He said "I wasn't going to let the quarterback down. I told him, 'throw it to me and I'll catch it.'" I love that confidence, but I also love the fact that he had his quarterback's back if he threw the ball to him.

    RE: If Rivera was surprised Benjamin chose not to attend the Draft

    RR: Not surprised one bit. That's not who he is. He's a different young man. He's been very humble with us through this process. All the coaches have said that. I know Dave (Gettleman) and Don (Gregory) when they sat down and spent an hour with him they reiterated to me the things they felt about him were true and that's what you're looking for. You're looking for guys that are really more about "us" than "me" and that's what I'm really impressed by who he is.

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