Telvin Smith leads by example

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In a few moments, the dam would burst, the energy and emotion would erupt from the locker room, spill onto the field and swallow up the utterly overwhelmed Florida Gators, the latest in a succession of opponents vanquished by a Florida State team now poised on the brink of the BCS National Championship.

But first, Telvin Smith had to finish his speech.

The senior linebacker is a master orator -- part preacher, whipping his congregation into an exuberant frenzy, and part wartime general, rallying his troops for the battle ahead.

"This is our destiny," Smith announced.

The crowd roars.

"This is our season," Smith proclaimed.

The team clamors for more.

"Nothing can stop us," Smith implored.

The fervor reaches its apex.

Suddenly Smith's attention turns to Nick O'Leary, the star tight end who garnered national headlines months earlier thanks to the horrific video of his motorcycle colliding with a city bus near campus. The accident looked gruesome at the time, but O'Leary escaped with only minor injuries.

"Look at O'Leary," Smith barked. "They tried to hit him with a bus, and he's still here."

In an instant, the rabid aggression transforms into roaring laughter. All of the tension and nervous energy evaporates with Smith's punch line. The weight of the moment was made clear, then lifted. It was a vintage performance by Florida State's unquestioned leader.

To read the rest of this story, click here.