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The Early Read: Toshmon Stevens is a Leader, Special Teams Ace

Toshmon Stevens is not a player who necessarily gets a ton of hype. He's in the defensive end rotation now because of injury, but entered the year third on the depth chart.

But the redshirt senior has become one of Florida State's most valuable special teams players and has been instrumental in transforming the unit.

"Special teams when I first got here wasn’t a big thing. It was just a place where people who weren’t good enough to play on defense or offense go," said Stevens. "But when I decided to get on it I made up my mind that that was my way, that was my role, my only role so I was going to do it to the best of my ability."

When Toshmon arrived in Tallahassee, Florida State was declining. The athletes weren't the same caliber anymore, their was infighting, things weren't necessarily functioning well. Florida State needed a culture change (I'll have a feature on that running tomorrow morning). In order for that kind of change to take hold, the team needed guys to lead by example. 

Steven was one of those guys.

"It took a while but I got my teammates to buy into it for obvious reasons, but once they bought into it I showed them that if we can do this right we can help our team win," said Stevens. "If you watched our game last week [against Clemson], you saw we made the turnaround when Lamarcus [Joyner] got that 90-yard return.

"So I mean it makes a big difference, those are the big yards that no one ever talks about, no one ever talks about how you made a big hit on a kickoff, or a big block on kickoff return or stopped their man from making a tackle on a play but these are the things that make your team win.

"So by doing that and helping my team buy into it, it has been a big factor for us and I hope that they continue to buy into it after I leave this team because I really believe I inspired a lot of young people to be leaders on that [unit], to show that they can have a future if they want it, going that route."

Stevens is the kind of guy that you want on special teams, a career special teamer who takes pride in the job and holds every other man on the unit accountable. The fifth-year senior admitted how much talent each of these new classes brings to the table, but now when they arrive they all gravitate towards special teams. 

"That’s something that they want to do because they see it as an opportunity not just to better themselves but to better our team," Stevens said.

My first thoughts after talking to Toshmon were that he'd make one hell of a coach. He clearly gets football, but he also knows how to lead. Stevens is the kind of guy who has literally etched out his own role on the team with effort and fearless special teams play, that's the kind of guy you want coaching up young players. The nautral athletes can't get every last ounce out of someone else because oftentimes they never had to squeeze it out of themselves.

That's not to belittle Stevens' athleticism at all, he'd start at most other schools. It's more to highlight the kind of work ethic he brings to the table. Stevens gets every last ounce out of his God-given talents, that oftentimes makes for a good coach.

"After my playing career is done I don’t know what’s going to happen, I have a couple of things lined up as far as jobs, but coaching, it would be nice," said Stevens. "I’ve had my high school coach ask me about that this past week in fact, he asked me to come back and help out. I would help if the opportunity presents itself, but we’ll see.

"I’ve thought about it, I have, but we’ll see."

For now, Steven is focused on continuing to make an impact however he can. It may not stand out to the average fan, but it sure does to Jimbo Fisher and his staff. Ask any coach or player who the most valuable guy on special teams is, after they mention their kickers (obligatory), they always turn the attention immediately to Toshmon Stevens. 

Stevens, as Fisher will tell you, is the kind of selfless, team-first player that is essential to turnaround a program and build the right kind of culture. Just how selfless is Stevens?

I asked him if it was gratifying to see such a transformation on the special teams unit during his time at FSU.

"It’s really gratifying, in fact I really wish Greg Reid was still here so I could have helped him break that record. He was so close."

Reid was well within reach of Florida State's all time punt return yardage record. He'd have broken it early this season. 

What's that say about a guy when you ask him about his own legacy and he makes it three words before saying he regrets not being able to put another teammate over?

Good guy to have in the lockerroom. 




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