This article was originally published in April 2021
“Last year was like a demo-year. Testing everything out and this year everything clicked – receivers were catching the ball and big guys were blocking up front.”
“My main thing [in the offseason] was working on being a vocal leader, trying to lead the guys and give them confidence and just make everyone better.”
That was Benjamin High School senior Jordan Travis in 2017 after being named that year’s FHSAA 3-A Player of the Year and Palm Beach Player of the Year, adding to a trophy case that included the Lou Groza High School Player of the Year Award for a career-finale campaign of 2,190 yards and 24 touchdowns, rushing for 905 yards and 16 scores.
His journey to Florida State, his ties to it through former Seminoles baseball player Devon, have been covered endlessly as he’s made his mark on the program. Once a simple jolt of serotonin and adrenaline in a 2019 season of misery, Travis emerged as FSU’s most consistent player — let alone quarterback — over the course of the 2020 season. There was a tangible difference when the West Palm Beach gunslinger was hampered by injury, either fighting through it on the field or taken off due to it. Travis struggled to manage the wear and tear of constant hits after an offseason marred by lingering issues and an inability to truly engage with the strength and conditioning team — something he and his coaches say are a thing of the past.
Jordan Young brings hauls in this tough grab from Jordan Travis. pic.twitter.com/trfZmqXlRR— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) March 10, 2021
“I think you see the strides Jordan Travis has made as a passer over the last year and where he is now,” head coach Mike Norvell said in the early days of spring camp. “It’s night and day from when we first stepped foot on campus. He took great strides last year throughout the course of the season, but even that’s when he was limited in practice.”
“Jordan is a phenomenal, tough-minded young man who loves to compete. He is up to 207 pounds and is the fastest he has ever run…His accuracy has increased to a next level.”
Travis has bulked up, adding lean mass to a frame that was susceptible to the beating that comes by nature of being a Florida State quarterback — great news for an offense that already had seen widespread benefits from his presence. Personal playmaking aside, Travis’ mobility aided the offensive line in dealing with mismatches and bull-rushes, enabling receivers to get loose from defenders having to be wary of his scrambling and backs having the chance to exploit hesitation.
Here is what Power 5 QB's did based on down type. Mac Jones is just in another world lol Jordan Travis was good! Just not great #FSUTwitter #CollegeFootball #CFBPlayoff pic.twitter.com/oBvwk6xYkP— CFBNumbers (@CFBNumbers) January 14, 2021
Clemson average OL yards/play (2017-2020): 3.30— CFBNumbers (@CFBNumbers) January 6, 2021
FSU average OL yards/play (2014-2016) 2.83
Clemson average OL stuff rate (2017-2020): 0.156
FSU average OL (2014-2016): 0.224
So yes FSU's was worse but given the EPA gap it still goes to Travis
In 2019, he was dismissed as a gimmick gadget player, known for two electrifying touchdowns but not the arm that earned him all-state and area accolades as a high schooler. In the early aughts of the 2020 season, as Norvell and his staff learned how to effectively use the talented playmaker he earned the same label — until he stepped in relief of an overwhelmed Tate Rodemaker, steadying the Seminoles’ ship and starting a run where he was either the key component of each of FSU’s wins or the reason that it stayed competitive in them.
“The thought that he couldn’t throw to begin with always was comical to me,” said offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham during the 2020 season. “He can throw the football. He can throw the ball really well. A few things hindered him in fall camp, which he didn’t get a lot of reps. We tried to work him into the game slowly the first two weeks, and he got dinged up.”
Jordan Travis says he feels a "family" vibe for the first time in his college career. "This team. We love each other. We trust each other. It's a way different feeling."— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) March 10, 2021
Travis’ limitations do exist — and they’ve been on display as much as other positions and players, but with a season approaching where a good chunk of the Florida State following has accepted his role as either a relief pitcher or trick play maestro, he’s not being counted out by himself, teammates or coaches.
But just as he said as a high school senior four years ago, two years removed from a transfer and a season after flashing some bits of talent without putting it all together, last season was a demo year, a time to test each bit of his game and determine what to work on, enhance and emphasize.
After running the beta test, after waiting his turn at two schools, behind multiple quarterbacks, putting in work and remaining engaged with the program, 2021 will be Travis’ chance to finally take himself to market.