When Jimbo Fisher made the announcement during fall camp that Greg Reid would no longer be with the team due to off-field issues, there was a major void to be filled. Reid's presence within the 'Noles special teams was most recognizable, but he was also an experienced cornerback and vocal leader on the Florida State defense. Being Reid's backup, Nick Waisome was the natural choice to take over the position, and he knew he had a long way to go before he could really help his team.
"When I learned about Greg, I just knew I was going to have to work," said Waisome. "Greg Reid was a great corner and we had to fill his spot. We had Xavier as the veteran corner on the other side and then we were going to have to have two guys that really hadn't played a snap to fill the spot."
Nick Waisome, a sophomore out of Groveland, Florida, has the physical skills to play cornerback at Florida State. While these things shine through on Saturdays, it's what he does in practice that really sets him apart from the rest. Waisome is a student of the game. He knows football and is dedicated to learning more and getting better, and this work ethic is the reason he eventually won the starting job.
"I just knew it was gonna be a lot of work," said Waisome. "I was just going to have to listen to my coaches and just do what I do."
Nick Waisome is a very confident player, and while some kids may come in with an undeserving confidence, Waisome's confidence comes from his hard work and dedication each and every day of practice. He also contributes a lot of his success to the talent that he is matched up against on a daily basis.
"I try to work at practice and just stay to my technique, you know, be fluent with it -- just repetition," said Waisome. "After a while it just becomes second nature, your instincts and stuff like that become second nature. We go up against just about every kind of receiver you can think of everyday in practice and this really prepares us for anything."
Waisome's backup and fall competition, true freshman Ronald Darby, has really come a long way since arriving at Florida State. While most people thought Nick Waisome would be the clear starter at that corner position, Darby had other thoughts. The more experienced Waisome eventually edged out the true freshman, but there are still plenty of things to say about this young cornerback out of Maryland, and the future looks bright with the pair.
"He's been doing really well," said Waisome. "Coach put him in at times just to get him used to that 'big stage' game and I feel like he's going to be a great player for our team."
After months and months of hard work and weeks of lacking competition, the 'Noles battled against a Clemson team that has one of the best offenses in the country. Matched up against one of the premiere receivers in the country in Sammy Watkins for most of the game, Waisome had his hands full -- but he showcased his talent and preparation on the field. All-American Sammy Watkins was held to 6 catches for 24 yards against the 'Noles last Saturday -- Waisome shined on the 'big stage.'
"Everybody's in there screamin' and you can't really hear, and you know, Sammy Watkins, cameras flying around, pictures flashing," said Waisome. "You just gotta calm yourself down and play the game, 'cause at the end of the day, it's just you and the receiver in front of you, or you and the team -- the eleven guys out there on the field with you."
After a game and performance like that, the younger guys like Nick Waisome really build off of that success. It's no longer a question of, can he get this done, it's now a quiet confidence that he carries around with him. Shutting down one of the nation's top receivers is nothing to shy away from, and Waisome will definitely use that performance as a confidence builder for the rest of the season -- and Jimbo Fisher already notices a difference.
"When you play in big moments and you come through them, I think it builds confidence in so many ways," said Fisher. "Those young guys are really evolving into that -- I can see their confidence growing."
With his performance against Clemson in his back pocket, Nick Waisome can move forward with that increased confidence and help solidify this Florida State defense as one of the best in the country. The Seminoles will travel to Tampa this weekend to play a USF team that likes to throw the ball down field and Waisome is prepared for this, due to the countless film he has watched on B.J. Daniels.
"I'm gonna be on my dude the whole time," said Waisome. "Even when it looks like Daniels it going to come out of the pocket and run for it, you gotta stay with your man, 'cause when he stops and throws a prayer, there's a man open down field."
With a clear confidence and a big performance against Clemson, Waisome is ready for what's ahead of him. For this week, he'll worry about USF, and for the next week, he'll worry about NC State. Waisome will continue to be a student of the game and strive to get better, because he wants to help this defense do great things, and if the Clemson game is any kind of glimpse into the future, that's exactly what he'll do.