Kelvin Benjamin has become one of the most dynamic receivers in the country. It's been happening gradually all season but it came to a head yesterday in Gainesville.
KB destroyed Florida's attempt to cover him man-to-man to the tune of nine catches, 212 yards and three touchdowns in the Seminoles 37-7 win.
Benjamin now has 12 TD receptions on the year and is over 800 yards on the season. What's more remarkable than Benjamin's physical abilities however, is the transformation he has made in the past 12 months.
“I mean it’s quite funny, the kid is amazing. He can be so much more I feel like that was just the tip of the iceberg," said S Terrence Brooks. "He works very hard, I’m glad to see where he’s come from to the point where he is now. He’s definitely changed his whole mindset toward the game and just life in general, it’s just amazing. It’s crazy to see guys try to guard him.”
Last year in the hours after the Orange Bowl Benjamin tweeted his displeasure with how his redshirt freshman season had played out. He would later delete those tweets and apologize, but clearly something clicked in the days and weeks following the end of the 2012 season.
After a season of inconsistency, this year Benjamin seems to finally be putting it all together.
"KB has some real advantages with his size and speed and athleticism he can be a very, very special player and he’s starting to really develop into that guy," Jimbo Fisher said after yesterday's game.
"[He's] worked, and understands the details of things. And I’m going to tell you thing about KB that’s one of the greatest, we know his size, we know his speed, good focus, learning to be an every down player, being physical, giving effort on every play, but the thing that about him that makes him very unique… he’s very intelligent."
Added Benjamin: "I think it's just doing the little things to be a great receiver, basically. Get in there and watch the film real early, just studying your opponent. I kind of felt like I knew the team [today], like I've played with them all my life."
Part of what's clicked for the 6-5 230-pound receiver may be that he's fallen in love with the game again. At times last season his passion for the game may have strained a bit, but this season he's found it again.
“I’m more excited this year, I feel like I fell in love with the game all over again, you know?" Benjamin said a few weeks ago. "So, I mean that’s why I really love practice now, I really like practicing now, because the practices are fun. They try to make it seem like it’s always Jimbo going off and stuff like that, but we actually have fun in practice sometimes.”
The difference is noticable. While his teammates have always been confident in him -- for two years reporters have heard about his considerable talents and abilities -- now it seems as though Benjamin is starting to believe the talk himself.
"Before this week we had a special meeting where the team got together and I told him, I told KB -- I called him out, we call that catfishing each other where players call each other out -- I called KB out and I said 'KB you are an unstoppable force,'" said Jameis Winston. "If you go out there and do what you’ve got to do you will be unstoppable and no one will be able to cover you. I told him in front of the whole team, ‘no one will be able to cover you.’
"For KB it’s always big with his confidence, because when he has his confidence, when he has his touches, when he has his touchdowns he gets rolling and like I said he becomes an unstoppable force.”
After an early drop on Saturday, KB got his confidence and took the game over for Florida State.
"[I told him] just look it in your hands -- he was trying to run before he [caught] it," said Fisher. "Just make sure you put your nose on the ball and put your eyes into it and catch it before you run with it and we’ll throw it right back to him."
FSU did throw it right back to him. By the end of the day Benjamin had scored three times and torched a Florida secondary laden with NFL talent.
“I feel like the team just trusts me more, they know I’m going to go out there and I’m going to go all out, I’m going to do my best, I’m not going to take any plays off," said Benjamin. "I just have fun, really.”
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