|Wake's Florida natives getting ready for 'Noles|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 18 September 2008 10:06|
D.J. Boldin also seemed a natural fit in Tallahassee, where he hoped to become the second member of his family to blossom into an NFL star. But Anquan Boldin's kid brother went unrecruited by Florida State, so off he went to lead the Demon Deacons in receiving.
Maybe coach Jim Grobe's up-and-coming program should rename itself ``Wake Florida.'' After all, no BCS conference team from outside the Sunshine State has more Floridians on the roster than the 26 at No. 18 Wake Forest.
And while many of the Demon Deacons won't publicly admit it, one of the rare things more enjoyable than their rise to Atlantic Coast Conference prominence has been sticking it to the school that once ignored them.
id. ``As we're trying to move up in the eyes of the college football world, these are the kinds of games you've got to win in order to gain respect from other teams and everybody else. That's what we're trying to do - go out and play with the best of the best and come out on top. It feels pretty good when you can beat somebody from kind of your hometown.''
Skinner isn't alone in Winston-Salem: Seven Floridians are listed as starters this week, with nine more on Wake Forest's depth chart.
But just how did they get away from Bobby Bowden's powerhouse program?
The Seminoles only have space for so many players each year, leaving some unrecruited because Bowden already was stacked at some positions: Skinner went overlooked a few years ago out of high school in Jacksonville quite possibly because Florida State seemed set at quarterback with Drew Weatherford and the since-departed Xavier Lee.
Others simply slipped through the cracks, like Pahokee native and all-ACC cornerback Alphonso Smith. The Seminoles should have been aware of him - they signed his prep teammate, top running back Antone Smith.
``We've misjudged a lot of people in the past,'' Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said of Alphonso Smith. ``They do a good job of selecting the players that fit what they're doing.''
s fertile recruiting pipeline exceptionally hard since he came to Wake Forest before the 2001 season. It really picked up once the Demon Deacons started winning - and especially two years ago when they won the ACC and played in the Orange Bowl.
``When we found out how good it could be to us, it's just expanded,'' Grobe said. ``As we get more kids out of Florida, it kind of snowballs because when you get a good kid, he comes, and if he's happy, then he tells other kids, and parents tell parents. ... That's kind of what's happened. The kids that have come up here have typically been pretty successful, so that's given us a chance to recruit more players.''
Of course, some of their biggest success has come against the school that spurned them.
Skinner was a redshirt freshman two years ago when he took over a plucky Wake Forest offense that was expected to receive a reality check from the mighty Seminoles at intimidating Doak Campbell Stadium. Instead, he was nearly perfect in leading the Demon Deacons to a 30-0 statement victory that snapped a 14-game losing streak in the series and gave Florida State its first shutout loss at home under Bowden.
A year later, he beat them again, leading Wake Forest to a 24-21 victory. In two starts against the Seminoles, Skinner has completed 36 of 46 passes for 353 yards with three touchdowns.
id. ``I just enjoy going down there and playing. You're able to have a lot of your family see some of the games, just because it's not as far away. You want to win it for the coaches here who have gone through a lot of years of getting whooped by Florida State and kind of reversed that situation. The last two years, both the wins have really kind of propelled us into playing some good football.''
Boldin, a fifth-year senior with a team-best 18 catches for 156 yards, insists the novelty of playing the Seminoles wore off long ago. These days, his big brother doesn't even bother to talk trash about the matchup - the younger Boldin even said he expects Anquan to pull for Wake Forest this time.
``My redshirt freshman year, we went down there and it was a really big deal. This time around, Florida State is just like any other team,'' he said. ``Usually, (Anquan) will want to place a little wager. He always says Florida State's going to beat us, but nowadays he's been more like a mentor to me, instead of just picking at me.
``I've just grown up,'' he added. ``Football's football. It doesn't matter who you play on Saturdays or Sundays. Everybody's all the same. YOu just prepare the same way. (But) you look forward to going back home. That's the main part.''
Associated Press Writer Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.