Freshman receiver Rudolph steps up for Seminoles
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) It didn't take Florida State receiver Travis Rudolph long to show that he could make an impact for the defending national champions as a true freshman.
Rudolph had his best game against Notre Dame, grabbing six passes for 80 yards and an 11-yard touchdown in Florida State's 31-27 win on Saturday night. Of Rudolph's six catches, four went for first downs.
The second-ranked Seminoles (7-0, 4-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) play at Louisville (6-2, 4-2) on Thursday night and will need contributions from Rudolph against the upset-minded Cardinals.
''I think he's got a chance to be a very good player and he's developing in a lot of ways,'' FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. ''He's a special player.''
Quarterback Jameis Winston connected with Rudolph on two critical fourth-quarter passes against the Irish - one for 15 yards and another for 16 yards - on Florida State's go-ahead drive.
The Seminoles have needed contributions from their young receivers after Kelvin Benjamin left early for the NFL and senior Kenny Shaw graduated. While Florida State returned record-setting receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary, they had plenty of holes to fill.
Rudolph was slowed this summer with a foot injury and didn't play much in FSU's first three games. But he had his first reception in a win at North Carolina State on Sept. 27 and had his first touchdown a week later in a victory over Wake Forest. Rudolph has 17 catches for 232 yards and two touchdowns this season, helping to turn what was a depleted group into one of the strengths of the offense.
''Travis Rudolph is going to be an amazing player,'' Winston said. ''You can't be prouder than a young guy just stepping up in the clutch.''
Rudolph is a true freshman and is not allowed to speak to the media due to Fisher's policy. But Rudolph quickly impressed other Seminoles wide receivers with his intellect and work ethic. He absorbed Fisher's dynamic playbook and already knows how to play multiple wide receiver positions.
Rudolph has also been compared to Greene, who has 223 catches and is FSU's all-time receptions leader. Greene is considered FSU's top receiver but is also a player with no weakness.
A senior, Greene has taken many of his young teammates under his wing and given them advice. Greene said that he sees plenty of himself in Rudolph.
''He's getting comfortable,'' Greene said. ''He reminds me of myself when I came in as a freshman, just wanting to prove yourself and wanting to show the coaches that you can play on this level. And I see it from him every day, the way he practices and takes it seriously. He wants to learn and it's showing.''