On Thursday, former Florida State Seminoles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn spoke with the current players of his former team, continuing with a theme of unity, introspection and brotherhood that head coach Mike Norvell says he likes to pepper in towards the end of fall camp.
“I always like to finish up camp investing in a lot of things that are off the field,” Norvell said Thursday. “Building the mind, building the heart because that’s going to be critical towards our success I promise you, at some point this year. It’s already shown up since December 8th.
“There’s going to be good. There’s going to be bad. There’s going to be unexpected things that show up, but when you have the heart that’s in the right place and people you love being around, being a part of an organization that’s bigger than yourself, you’re going find joy and find happiness. That’s what we’re doing this for.”
Perhaps there’s no better person to demonstrate the value of building yourself up and your community — literally — than Dunn, who has devoted himself to volunteer work through Habitat for Humanity. As of Tuesday, he and his non-profit have built 181 homes for single parents.
“When you can see someone who is committed to providing and putting her family in a better situation long term, that’s what it’s all about. We love the fact that we get to see these life-changing moments all the time and at the same time we know we want to come back and impact this community even more.”
Norvell said Friday that it was an amazing and formative experience for both he and his players.
“It was an incredible message, he said. “So honored to have him here last night and I think the guys responded well last night.”
“His generosity, his service to impact others in a community, it could not have been a better message for our players.”
“I’m pretty sure if he suited up right now he could make a few of them miss, so they definitely have a lot of respect for him.”
“Warrick Dunn has always been one of my top guys, coming from Atlanta,” redshirt freshman Derrick McLendon II said. “Knowing what drove him as a player, really intrigued me.”
Dunn grew up the eldest of sixth siblings in a single-parent household. His mother, Betty Smothers, was a Baton Rouge police officer who was tragically gunned down when he was just 18 years old. While grieving the loss of his mother, Dunn was tasked with being the head of a household and raising his siblings. On top of that, he had to balance school and and being one of the most highly sought after recruits in Louisiana.
Through the turmoil, Dunn’s talent on the football field has allowed him the means to impact countless lives with his charitable causes, providing housing for 170 single-parent families to date, including the family of a young Deshaun Watson.
And while Dunn’s story is a testament that there is more to life than football, the way he played the game is how we all fell in love with number 28, and there is no shortage of things to talk about when looking back on his FSU career.