Build­ing off spring show­ing

Laborn had 140 yards rush­ing on 13 car­ries

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - MLB - By Kather­ine Wright Cor­re­spon­dent

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE If run­ning back Kha­lan Laborn’s 91-yard touch­down run did not cap­ture the at­ten­tion of Florida State fans, his can­did com­ment af­ter the Semi­noles spring game re­cap­ping the mo­ment surely will.

Laborn’s sound­bite, in his first in­ter­view with a side­line re­porter since be­ing at Florida State, was un­fil­tered and sin­cere. It fea­tured two curse words that slipped off his tongue. And it struck a comedic tone that quickly en­deared him to the Semi­noles fan base.

For Laborn, a for­mer five-star re­cruit who did not see the field as a fresh­man last sea­son, it seemed like a mo­ment of lib­er­a­tion.

“Oh good­ness,” Laborn said burst­ing into a chuckle, re­liv­ing the in­ter­view. “I was just think­ing, [the re­porter] asked me [the ques­tion], and I just thought of the first thing that came to my head. “Les­son learned.” New coach Wil­lie Tag­gart aimed to give his tal­ented sta­ble of run­ning backs op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing the spring game.

Sopho­more Cam Ak­ers, who broke FSU’s sin­gle­sea­son fresh­man rush­ing record last sea­son, had 12 car­ries for 16 yards and a touch­down. Se­nior Jacques Patrick had 11 car­ries for 33 yards and ju­nior Amir Ra­sul had nine car­ries with 24 yards.

Laborn, a Vir­ginia na­tive, ben­e­fited from his ex­plo­sive run, fin­ish­ing with 140 yards rush­ing on 13 car­ries with two touch­downs dur­ing the first quar­ter, win­ning most valu­able player hon­ors.

“It felt re­ally good,” Laborn said. “I’ve been wait­ing a whole year since I got here to play. Now, I fi­nally got to show what I could do. I’m happy.”

Rated as the na­tion’s No.1 all-pur­pose back by Ri­ and in 2017, Laborn be­lieved he would have been able to con­trib­ute to the Semi­noles’ strug­gling of­fense last sea­son be­hind Ak­ers, Patrick and Ra­sul.

Be­ing red­shirted frus­trated Laborn dur­ing FSU’s 7-6 cam­paign.

He sent home Christ­mas Day for dis­ci­plinary rea­sons two days be­fore FSU played South­ern Mis­sis­sippi in the In­de­pen­dence Bowl, an­other set­back dur­ing a bumpy year.

“The tough­est part was sit­ting on the side­line watch­ing your team lose and see­ing coaches mak­ing the calls they made and watch­ing the play­ers try to in­vest and it just not work­ing out,” Laborn said.

“It just hurt watch­ing that. You want to do as much as you can … but you can only do so much if they let you.”

Laborn is more than con­fi­dent in him­self and his abil­i­ties. De­spite be­ing in a loaded po­si­tion group, Laborn be­lieves he will be able to find a niche in Tag­gart’s new spread, Gulf Coast of­fense that aims to cap­i­tal­ize on play­mak­ers in space.

Laborn made a state­ment when he first com­mit­ted to the Semi­noles in July 2016, with the help of a char­coal-col­ored Lam­borgh­ini cov­ered with de­cals of a FSU logo on the hood and spears on the doors.

He made an­other with his big-play touch­down and spir­ited re­ac­tion. He even let an­other curse word slip dur­ing postgame in­ter­views with me­dia, fur­ther sa­vor­ing his break­out per­for­mance.

Laborn’s un­cen­sored takes were a breath of fresh air sim­i­lar to the re­fresh­ing en­ergy sur­round­ing FSU’s foot­ball pro­gram.

“I’m just glad we have a new coach­ing staff in to show what all of us can do in­stead of just cer­tain peo­ple,” Laborn said. “…Coach Tag­gart, he comes out and he speaks what’s real, and he doesn’t just speak it, he shows it and I feel like he’s the best fit for this team.”

Laborn speaks what he feels, some­thing very real.

“It’s my time and I’m ready,” he said.


Kha­lan Laborn, who was red­shirted last sea­son, earned most valu­able player hon­ors dur­ing this year’s spring game.


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