The ACC announced on Thursday that Florida State's Chris Thompson was the co-winner of the Brian Piccolo award (along with Miami's Shayon Green) presented annually to the player wo demonstrates the most courage.
Chris Thompson was an absolute dynamo for the Seminoles this season, less than a year after two broken verterbrae threatened to end his career. He had always been a very fast runner, but this season he had an explosiveness and a fearlessness that made him, hands-down, the most dangerous player on the Florida State offense.
Thompson had a huge year, including going for 197 yards and two touchdowns in just nine carries during his revenge game against Wake Forest. Had he not torn an ACL on the run after a catch against Miami, he would have easily eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time at Florida State since Warrick Dunn did in 1996 (he finished with 687 yards on 7.5 per carry).
Thompson's impact on the field paled to the way he affected his teammates off of it though. His back injury and subsequent recovery were a huge inspiration to his teammates and thanks to his leadership and congeniality, Florida State took it personally when they were blocking for Thompson this season.
It was repeated by so many different players, so many times it almost became like a mantra, 'nobody touches Chris.'
That's what made it hurt so much for his teammates when Thompson went down after he felt a pop in his knee at Sun Life Stadium. The blockers had done their job on the play, Thompson was in space trying to make one last defender miss near the sideline. It didn't matter though, he came down in a heap and for the second time in two years was lost for the season.
But as a testament to the young man that he is, he's continued to man the sidelines, has kept vigil during practice and he continues to help mentor the young backs that now take his carries.
I don't know if Brian Piccolo really was the benevolent, good-hearted man that James Caan portrayed him to be in Brian's Song. But assuming he was, I can think of no better representation of the values and work ethic that made Piccolo such an inspirational figure than Chris Thompson was this year.
Check below for replays from Thompson's game against Wake: