For Florida State defensive back Nate Andrews, it seems like just yesterday that his career as a Seminole was getting underway. In speaking with media members on Saturday, Andrews confessed as much: "It's crazy. I mean, Coach Fisher said it was going to go by fast, and now I'm a senior, and it's crazy. It's insane."
Many 'Nole fans can identify. After all, Andrews' first year in Tallahassee, the 2013 national title season that saw him record 24 tackles, four interceptions, a sack, and a touchdown, often feels like it just happened. Yet the links to that team have dissipated significantly at FSU, a good deal due to the NFL-record 29 Seminoles who've been drafted over the past three years. Still, a number of current FSU players were around for that championship run as freshmen. Many redshirted: Keith Bryant, Wilson Bell, Ryan Hoefeld, Ro'Derrick Hoskins, Jeremy Kerr, Tyrell Lyons, and Matthew Thomas.
Several more contributed throughout the season, but did not play in the title-clinching win over Auburn: DeMarcus Walker, Ryan Green, Sean Maguire, Justin Shanks, and Freddie Stevenson. And another trio of players got in, but did not record any stats (Chris Casher, Marquez White, and Bobo Wilson). That leaves just two current 'Noles who actually statistically contributed to that championship win over the Tigers: kick returner Kermit Whitfield, and, you guessed it, Andrews, who had a pair of tackles.
As far as championship experience goes, that makes Andrews the elder statesman of this Seminole defense. Of course, Jimbo Fisher hasn't been pleased with the energy of his team so far this spring. A lot of that is tied to youth, and Andrews can not only identify with that youth, but says he needs to play a role in helping with its maturation process: "Once, I was a young guy, I didn't know anything, and I'm a senior now, so I have to teach younger guys what to do. And it's crazy, but I enjoy doing it, because I like watching those guys do good." Specifically, Andrews says he's taken players such as Marcus Lewis, Tarvarus McFadden, Calvin Brewton, and A.J. Westbrook under his wing.
Citing his championship tenure, I asked Andrews if he ever draws on 2013 as a means of motivation for those younger players. He responded:
"Coach Fisher always brings up the national championship team, because those guys were hungry. We had guys like Telvin Smith, Lamarcus Joyner, we had guys like that who were hungry. I mean, I use it, I try to, but then this is a different team, and it's still early, so we have to focus on us right now. So yeah, that's an old team, but I try to focus on the new team now. But that team was one of the greatest teams ever."
I followed up by asking Andrews if there were guys on this Seminole squad who remind him of that team's iconic leaders, like Smith. His answer probably won't surprise you: "Yeah. Definitely Derwin James. He's a freak of nature. DeMarcus Walker, and then we have Dalvin [Cook] on the offense. So we have guys like that."
Andrews was then asked if this team could accomplish the kind of feats that the 2013 squad did: "It's early, but I think we have the team. We have a lot of talent. We have so much talent. We want it to be a special year." If it's anywhere close to 2013, "special" would certainly cover it.