At least one Citadel football player will be on familiar turf Saturday night when the war chant starts raining down from the stands at 82,000-seat Doak Campbell Stadium.
WHO: The Citadel at No. 1 Florida State
WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
TV: Regional Sports Network/ESPN3
Bulldogs linebacker Tevin Floyd, who grew up in Tallahassee, spent many Saturdays on the Florida State sidelines as a Seminoles recruit, watching FSU and dreaming of playing for his hometown team.
"It will be a very emotional game for me, before, during and after," Floyd said of the Bulldogs' Saturday date with No. 1-ranked Florida State. "I was recruited by Florida State and I really thought I might go there. I remember going to see Clemson play there, Miami, Florida. It's a great atmosphere there, especially from the sidelines."
Floyd, now 6-1 and 230 pounds, played in high school at Florida State University School, an FSU-affiliated charter school commonly known as Florida High. And he was certainly good enough to be on the Seminoles' recruiting radar, making second-team all-state as a senior and winning the Tallahassee Quarterback Club defensive player of the year award as a junior.
But in the end, FSU recruiters determined that Floyd lacked something - maybe a couple of inches in height or a tick or two in the 40-yard dash - and didn't offer him a scholarship. That was to The Citadel's benefit, as Floyd played in 12 games as a true freshman last season, with 39 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
In last week's season-opening 31-16 loss to Coastal Carolina, Floyd led the Bulldogs with 12 tackles, including 2½ for loss and The Citadel's only sack.
"Tevin really came on in the second of preseason camp, getting more and more comfortable playing in our scheme," said coach Mike Houston. "He's really emerged as a leader on that side of the ball."
Despite his success at The Citadel, Floyd feels the urge to prove something to FSU coaches Saturday.
"I feel like I'll be very focused to try to make a point that I can play on the field with people that are ranked higher than me," Floyd said.
It's not lost on Citadel players that one factor in former Bulldogs great Andre Roberts rise to the NFL (he's now with Washington) was the way he performed in a 2008 game at Clemson. Roberts caught nine passes for 153 yards and a touchdown in that 45-17 Citadel loss, proving that he could compete with NFL-level talent.
"A game like this makes it easier for scouts to judge you," Floyd said. "They can say, 'How did he play against people that will be in the NFL?' If they see you play well, they are more likely to take time to look at you."
Even though he played for an FSU-affiliated high school (nicknamed the Seminoles) and grew up in Tallahassee, Floyd's family rooted for the Florida Gators, by edict of his father.
"Everything at our school had a Florida State emblem on it," he said. "Everything was funded by Florida State, we were called the Seminoles. But I grew up a Gators fan, courtesy of my dad. He always beat it into my head: 'We hate the Seminoles in this household.'"
Life as a Gator fan in Tallahassee had its moments.
"It was weird," Floyd said. "A lot of my friends were FSU fans, and every time they'd play Florida, we'd all come together and watch. It'd be me and my dad and my brothers against everybody else."
On Saturday, it's a good bet the Floyd family will be rooting against Florida State again.
The Citadel has played FSU six times, but has lost only five times. In 1960, the Bulldogs battled the Seminoles to a 0-0 tie at Johnson Hagood Stadium. The Citadel went 8-2-1 that season and beat Tennessee Tech by 27-0 in the Tangerine Bowl. FSU went 3-6-1 in 1960, and had beaten The Citadel by 47-6 the previous season.