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FSU’s Dawsey expects “breakout year” from Gavin, compares him to T.O., Dwayne Bowe

Lofty praise for a WR who could be on the verge of stardom.

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Michigan vs Florida State Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In the final two minutes of last year's Orange Bowl against Michigan, an unsuspecting hero emerged deep from Florida State's end zone to the deafening roars of Seminole fans and players everywhere saying something to the effect of: "Stopppppppp! Noooooo! What are you doing?!"

That hero was, of course, sophomore receiver Keith Gavin, who returned the kick 60 yards to set up Florida State's game-winning touchdown drive against the Wolverines.

And because of that play, now Gavin has emerged as one of the players who may just have the biggest season of any 2017 Seminole, according to wideouts coach Lawrence Dawsey.

"We're so pleased with where he's at. We expect him to have a breakout year," said Dawsey, who knows a thing or two about breakout years, having starred for the Seminoles from 1987-90 before enjoying a seven-year career in the NFL. "He's been doing great in camp. Knows the playbook. So that's going to be big."

But neither Dawsey, nor any of Gavin's teammates, have let that play go from a year ago.

Florida State is about to embark on a new season and new challenges when they open Sept. 2 in Atlanta against No. 1 Alabama, but Dawsey says that runback still comes up during practices and meetings, And no one can forget the now-famous picture of former teammate Kermit Whitfield jumping up and down and yelling at Gavin just outside the endzone to take a knee instead of running it out.

"I didn't hear nothing," Gavin said when asked about the play.

Dawsey also laughed and said that Gavin's kickoff return set the stage in 2016 for the kind of year he hopes the nearby Crawfordville native is going to have in 2017.

"Everybody knew how big and strong he was. But to actually show it in a game when guys are running right at him and he just ran through it? People were like, 'Keith, that's what we gotta have all the time,' " Dawsey beamed about the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Gavin.

Dawsey was a third-round selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1991 and was named Sports Illustrated Rookie of the Year his first season -- so he knows a thing or two about what it takes to play, and succeed, in the NFL. As he enters his 10th season as a coach at Florida State, he says he sees something special in Gavin.

"He's a beast. He's a physical specimen. He's got the total package," Dawsey said. "He's like Terrell Owens, but he's faster than Terrell Owens and real, real strong. Built like a Dwayne Bowe."

Hearing Dawsey gush like that about Gavin, it's hard to believe outside of that runback last year, he really didn't have a highlight to his name as a freshman. In fact, he didn't catch a single pass all season.

But Gavin agrees with Dawsey: Those days are over.

"Every day, I feel like I've gotten better," Gavin said. "I think I'm going to do real big things this year. (That play in the Orange Bowl) was the biggest play I've had in college football so far. And hopefully this coming season, I'll have a lot more."