When Devonta Freeman committed to Florida State in June of 2010 he was just a two-star prospect, a result of coming of age in one of football’s Meccas, South Florida. Having backed up Brandon Gainer (a four-star recruit that would commit to Kentucky) his junior season, Freeman didn’t receive much attention, but a successful camp circuit began to earn him offers: namely, one from Florida State. (Freeman would finish as a four-star prospect, with offers from Auburn, Florida and UCF, amongst others.)
As an early enrollee at Florida State, however, he’d get the chance to contribute right away, taking full advantage and leading the team in rushing in 2011 with 579 yards and eight touchdowns, along with 111 receiving yards. He put up the first 100 yard game of his career vs. Duke, beginning a personal tradition of putting up big games against the Blue Devils.
It was against them in 2012 that Freeman began his ascension as one of Florida State’s best backs of the new decade. With Florida State having lost Chris Thompson the previous week to a knee injury vs. Miami, Freeman stepped up and put up an 104 yard, two touchdown statline, averaging 8.7 yards per carry.
In 2013 it would all come perfectly together for the speedster, when he became Florida State’s first 1000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn in 1996. An essential part of the doomsday device that was the Seminoles’ offense in its national championship year, Freeman’s finest moment perhaps came against Miami, when the two schools met undefeated for the first time since 2004.
Freeman, a Miami native who had been mentored by Hurricane superfan Uncle Luke, had a little bit of extra swagger to his step as he put up three total touchdowns against the No. 7 team in the country, running for 78 yards and two scores while also catching six balls for 98 yards and a touchdown.
He’d go on to score a touchdown in each of Florida State’s remaining six games, the final being the first strike in the Seminoles’ rally to come back against Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game.
A third round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, Freeman has continued his status as a fan favorite in the 404, coming within 15 minutes and the play-calling of Kyle Shanahan of being a Super Bowl champion and probable MVP. Injuries have kept him from consistent success, but he’s still emerged as one of the league’s more versatile offensive threats, evidenced by the five-year, $41.25 million contract extension he signed with the Falcons in 2017.