Many will remember Florida State wide-receiver Nyqwan Murray’s late fourth-quarter touchdown grab as the play that sealed an Orange Bowl victory over Michigan to conclude the Seminoles’ 2016 season. But there was still work to do, as the ’Noles clung to a one-point advantage with seconds left. The 33-32 FSU win became academic when now-sophomore DB Carlos Becker III intercepted a Wolverine pass that closed things out in FSU’s favor.
Becker hadn’t done much on defense through 2016. Although he played in every game save the opener against Ole Miss, most of his snaps came on special teams, and he tallied just five total tackles all season, in addition to his aforementioned pick, the only of his college career thus far.
Expect those numbers to rise dramatically in the near future. After flashing late last season, Becker could very well play a key role in the 2017 Seminole defense that should be among the nation’s best.
Becker is a 6’2, 183-pound defense back from Kissimmee, Florida’s Osceola High School. And his impressive length — and accompanying wing span — are a reason that he saw increased burn as the 2016 campaign wore on for the ’Noles. Another is his versatility, which paid dividends for an FSU secondary decimated by injury.
But that versatility extends even beyond football. Becker came to Florida State as an accomplished long-jumper. And he’s not the first.
As far as other FSU gridders with a long-jumping background go, Seminole fans will most recently recall Jalen Ramsey, who became a top-five pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars the other year. Ramsey, a consensus All-American in football, also captured the 2015 ACC indoor title in long-jumping after leaping an astounding 25-feet, 2.75 inches in 2015.
Before Ramsey, FSU’s Lamarcus Joyner, now with the Los Angeles Rams, also impressed as a long-jumper. He leapt a formidable 22’3. In high school. As a sophomore.
But both Ramsey and Joyner are now remnants of Florida State history. So let’s get back to the present— which is Becker. All he did as a high-school senior was jump an even 25 feet. Think about it. That’s less than three inches away from what Ramsey posted a year before he was drafted in the top five. Becker, of course, still has to hang around for at least two more years before he’s eligible for the NFL Draft. And if that has you, as a Seminoles fan, smiling, it should.
But why? After all, long-jumping has nothing to do with being a great DB. Or does it?
Let’s break down the long-jump. That specific skill doesn’t really have a lot to do with being an elite defensive back. However, the constituent elements that play into doing so, at a top-tier level, absolutely do. And as a former high-school long-jumper who consistently posted mediocre results, I feel equipped to comment on this subject.
You see, the funny thing about the long-jump is that it doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do with jumping, or even jumping a long distance, for that matter. It’s a simple equation: speed, times explosiveness, equals results. No long-jumper was ever coached to leap far. It’s all about combining maximum speed with an incredible burst upon hitting the board.
Think about it. For as much as the great Carl Lewis is remembered as a prolific Olympic sprinter, he won more medals in the long jump than in any other event. Gold in 1984, in Los Angeles. Gold in Seoul, in ‘88. Gold in ‘92, in Barcelona. And gold again in ‘96, in Atlanta. Why? Because Lewis was not just fast; he was also a dynamic athlete.
And perhaps that’s why long-jumping is such a fine indicator of DB productivity. Because it’s not just about speed or explosion, but rather, a combination of both. Yes, you need the quickness to keep up with burners out wide, but you also must possess the power through your hips to accelerate through tackles, particularly at the line of scrimmage.
That’s how Joyner overcame his size deficiency to become a second-round pick, despite being described as an “average athlete” on NFL.com’s Draft Tracker. And it’s also why Ramsey went as a successful first-round selection. Of course, each of those players also possessed an amazing mean streak — we’ll see if that streak, along with the success of former long-jump studs — continues with Becker at FSU.