The hype is coming back yet again. Kelvin Benjamin knows it.
If it wasn't in full swing by Sunday, Benjamin's show in front of an open practice after FSU's media day tipped the scales. He reeled in catch after catch, covered, double-covered, no matter. All on the one day that hundreds of fans could watch.
Hype is an occupational hazard for Benjamin. First he was a highly touted wide receiver, one of the top 10 in the country in his class. Between that and a redshirt year, the 6-foot-5 wideout with freakish athleticism had big expectations heading into 2012. He tried to embrace them, saying he wanted to win the Biletnikoff Award, catch 1,000 yards, be an All-American.
"At the end of the day when someone's hyped, there's nothing but failure from there," Benjamin said.
He's familiar with that trajectory. For any normal freshman, 2012 was a solid year. Benjamin caught 30 passes for 495 yards and four touchdowns, but a tepid second half of the season left him feeling disappointed. And instead of a promising campaign, Benjamin saw missed opportunities. The hype had got into his head.
"You're waiting to see a touchdown every two seconds," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "I think it bothered him. I think he tried too hard to always and he didn't realize that if you caught a slant or a drag, hey that's a good thing."
The disappointment festered, and in the offseason Benjamin said he took time to reflect on the season and what he could do better. Wide Receivers Coach Lawrence Dawsey said the coaching staff personally challenged Benjamin to take a larger role.
"It started in the spring that we put that challenge to him," Dawsey said. "He stepped up and accepted it and said I've got to take accountability and be responsible. I'm proud of what he's doing right now."
Benjamin responded. He cut out fast food from his diet - after saying he'd been addicted to it his first two years - and slimmed himself down to 238 pounds. He stayed on campus during the summer and worked out twice a day. He also dropped his body fat from 15 percent to 8 percent. And most importantly, he's in line to be a starting wide receiver.
He also changed his expectations to filter out some of the hype. So this season, no pronouncements of future goals.
"Now I'm just going to let it take care of itself," Benjamin said. "Every blocking play and every receiving play. Even for me to just run off a short route and catch a ball."
And even when putting on a show in front of fans, feeling the hype boil up again, Benjamin shrugs it off. He's had enough experience with hype.
"I try to train myself to focus," Benjamin said. "I'm out there by myself. We're just a team out there. I try to focus all the fans out there out of my head. It really kind of helps a lot for me."
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial