The Daily Nole

FSU 2017-18 Athletic Year in Review: Men’s Sports Superlatives

Bob Thomas/FSU athletics

Less than 11 weeks remain before Florida State takes the football field to face Virginia Tech in the 2018 season opener, but there is plenty of time remaining to reflect.

That’s what we’ll do in this piece as we look back on the year that was for Florida State men’s sports. In nine men’s sports, the Seminoles claimed three ACC titles, made their deepest run in men’s basketball in 25 years and set a school-record in wins for men’s tennis.

On Tuesday, we looked at superlatives for the women’s sports. Now, it’s on to the men:

Team of the Year: FSU Track and Field
Florida State’s track and field team claimed ACC championships on both the indoor and outdoor circuits. The Seminoles claimed their first ACC indoor title since 2014 and first outdoors since 2015. FSU’s Austin Droogsma, Andre Ewers, Trey Cunningham and Edward Clark all claimed ACC indoor titles in various events.

On the outdoor side, Ewers, Droogsma and Corion Knight all won ACC individual championships. At the NCAA Outdoor Championships, men’s athletes claimed All-American honors in seven events, including five first-team selections. The 11th-place finish as a team was the highest for the Seminoles since 2013.

Athlete of the Year: Andre Ewers, FSU Track and Field
The ACC Track Performer of the Year, Andre Ewers narrowly missed an individual national championship in the 200 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, finishing .01 seconds behind winner Divine Oduduru of Texas Tech. Ewers was able to claim first-team All-American honors in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4-by-100 relay.

Ewers was an ACC champion during both the outdoor and indoor circuits for the 200 meters. Ewers also earned first-team All-American honors during the indoor season and was a big reason why the Seminoles were able to claim conference titles indoors and outdoors.

Cam Akers rushed for 1,024 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman. ( athletics)

Freshman of the Year: Cam Akers, FSU Football
Florida State freshman running back Cam Akers didn’t really become the feature back for the Seminoles until October, but that didn’t stop Akers from making his mark. Akers surpassed all-time leading rusher Dalvin Cook’s school freshman rushing record with 1,024 yards and eight total touchdowns. Akers averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a freshman and rushed for 100 yards on four occasions, including a career-high 199 in a 27-24 win over Syracuse.

Most Improved Athlete of the Year: Phil Cofer, FSU Basketball
After beginning the season as an afterthought, Phil Cofer finally broke through for Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles in his fourth year with the program. Cofer averaged less than three points per game during the 2016-17 before scoring a team-high 12.8 points per game this past season.

Phil Cofer led the Seminoles by averaging 12.8 points per game this past season. (Mike Olivella/FSU athletics)

Cofer’s offense came while shooting 49 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Cofer also ranked second on the team, securing 5.1 rebounds per game. Cofer scored in double-figures in 22 of the 35 games for the Seminoles, which included a career-high 28 points at Duke.

Coach of the Year: Bob Braman, Track and Field
Florida State head track and field coach Bob Braman helped deliver FSU three total ACC titles this year. Braman coached the men to the ACC Indoor and Outdoor title while also coaching the women to the Indoor title. Both the FSU men and women finished in the top 15 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene.

Performance of the Year: Levonta Taylor, FSU Football, Nov. 25 at Florida
As a whole, the 2017 season for Florida State was a disappointing one, but the Seminoles were able to close the year on a 4-game winning streak to extend the nation’s longest bowl streak and run their streak of winning seasons to 41. After a 3-6 start, the biggest obstacle standing between FSU and a bowl appearance looked to be a trip to rival Florida, which is where sophomore cornerback Levonta Taylor shined.

FSU won the contest 38-22, thanks largely to forcing four turnovers. Two of those were courtesy of a Taylor interception. Taylor returned one of those picks 18 yards for a touchdown. The other set up the touchdown score that put the Seminoles ahead for good. Taylor became the first FSU player to have multiple interceptions against the rival Gators since Greg Reid in 2011 and the seventh to do so, joining the likes of Tay Cody, Terrell Buckley and Keith Jones.

Contest of the Year: FSU Basketball Tops Xavier, NCAA Tournament Second Round
Picking between FSU men’s tennis’ upset of No. 1 Wake Forest or FSU hoops’ take-down of No. 1 seed Xavier wasn’t easy, but the NCAA Tournament was the grander stage. The ninth-seeded Seminoles had never defeated a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament prior to meeting the Musketeers in the round of 32 in Nashville on March 19.

P.J. Savoy’s 3-pointer with 1:12 to play pushed FSU past No. 1 seed Xavier in the NCAA Tournament. (Patrick Clark/FSU athletics)

For the longest time, it looked as though that drought would not change. With under 10 minutes to go, FSU trailed by 12 and by nine with under six minutes to play. The Seminoles used an 11-2 run to draw even and went ahead for good on a 3-pointer by P.J. Savoy with just over a minute to play. FSU held Xavier scoreless the rest of the way and hit timely free throws for a 75-70 victory. Braian Angola paced FSU with 15 points and six rebounds in the win as the Seminoles would go on to reach the Elite Eight for the first time in 25 years.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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