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Florida State's Rhodes Took Unusual Path to Corner

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Coming out of Miami Norland high school Xavier Rhodes was billed as a top-notch athlete. Rhodes was a jack of all trades his senior year, playing opposite Hurricane phenom Duke Johnson in the backfield, splitting out wide and even playing some corner.

For Rhodes as a high school senior, the hype was high and the comparisons to another local product, Dwayne Bowe, were common.

"Oh they just compared us a lot in high school, oh I hated that. Everything was Dwayne Bowe. 'Oh, Xavier you play just like Dwayne Bowe,'" recalled, Rhodes. "No I do not, I play like Xavier Rhodes."

That comparison ended quickly when Rhodes got to Florida State though. Jimbo Fisher, who coached Bowe at LSU, quickly flipped Rhodes to corner when he got to Florida State.

"He wanted to be a wide receiver," said Fisher. "[It lasted] a year, I talked him into going over [to defense] and he was mad at me.

"We laugh about it now, I say, 'I told you,' but I thought he had a great future there."

Rhodes, now a redshirt junior, has developed into one of the Seminoles' most reliable defenders. The 6-2 220-pound corner has the kind of size and athleticism that NFL teams love, but the transition didn't always seem like it was going to be so smooth.

"It took about six months, no it didnt take that long but it a while," said Rhodes. "I remember at first when they asked me to play corner I didn't want to accept the role. I didn't want to go do it I was like, 'I don't want to play, I don't want to learn [anything] about it, I want to play receiver.'

"But as I sat down and started talking to the team I said 'ok, I'll give it a chance.' I started to learn the techniques of it and I grew it to love it. And when I grew to love it I wanted to get better and I grew from there."

It wasn't immediate, but gradually over the course of the last two season Rhodes has emerged as a consistent presence on the back-end of the Florida State defense.

"A lot of people say they don't hear much about him," said Fisher. "But that's a good thing, that means he's not giving up plays."

Rhodes has come a long ways since he made the switch, but he credits Terrell Buckley with helping him make the mental adjustments and former Seminoles receiver Bert Reed for really lighting the spark under him.

"I remember the day it was," said Rhodes. "Bert Reed was killing me this practice, and no he wasn't quiet about it. And me being a competitor I just kept going against him like, 'Bert I'm going to get you.' And the last time Bert says, 'man I need a real corner.' So when he said that it hit me in my heart, so I took that real seriously. 

"When we lined up I jammed the crap out of Bert, he didn't even get an inch off the line."

Nowadays Rhodes is the kind of big-bodied, athletic corner that could make it into the first round of the draft. When Greg Reid went down earlier this year Rhodes stepped up to help fill the leadership void. He's not a loud guy, but when he speaks, teammates listen. 

On Saturday at Miami Rhodes will face his former backfield mate, this time on the other side of the ball.

“Man he was good as a freshman in high school, real good as a freshman in high school,” remember Rhodes.

“Oh, I’m not surprised [at his success]. But he [was] talking trash to our high school coach, he called me and told me he was telling him like, ‘I’m gonna do Xav,’ so I was like ‘yep, well now I’m gonna have to [show] him.’"

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