BYU's Floridians Have Special Interest in FSU

As BYU faces Florida State this weekend, the game will have a special meaning for three Cougars native to the state of Florida. When these Cougars take to the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium, their anticipation, excitement and effort will come from a deeper and more personal place.

Cornerback Corby Eason may be relegated to backup duties, but that doesn't mean what little participation he may have in this weekend's contest will be diminished by any means. In fact, he can't wait to run out of the tunnel at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the first time against a team he has a personal tie to.

"I'm excited because this is my first home game here at BYU and it's against a team that my best friend plays on," said Corby Eason. "Jarmon Fortson has been my best friend since the 11th grade when we played together at Carver High School."

When Eason and Fortson played together in high school, the two became best friends by way of their competitive spirit during team practices. The competition between them on the field was fierce as one looked to outshine the other.

"When we would do one-on-ones everybody would stop what they were doing and would just pay attention," said Eason. "For example, when T.O. [Terrell Owens] and [Adam] Pacman Jones would go against each other it became a show. Everyone was recruiting us and so we were just competing against each other every time, and so sometimes I would get him and he would get me. It was just so competitive that it actually made us better as players and made us closer as friends."

Through their commonalities the two became friends outside of football as well.

"We would spent time together off the field all the time," Eason said. "Like, we would go over to each other's house and study film and hang out and do things together. We were more like family than friends and everything we did together we did as a team."

The two make sure to keep in contact and share their experiences.

"Yeah, I talked to him yesterday because I'm trying to get his family tickets to this game," said Eason. "His parents want to come out here but the game is sold out, but I talk to him all the time and we talk about how it is where we are playing.

"Like, he was telling me about how it is at Florida State and what it's like to be there and I tell him what it's like to be out here. He said he had it kind of rough out there. I kind of laugh because he said that it was hard for him to be out there at Florida State because nobody talks to the freshman players and they just stare at them and things like that, but over here it's like family and everybody is so friendly. It's not like that over here and everyone's so friendly. Here is one of the best places in the country to be at because it's like family out here. I feel like I've already been here for four years even though this is my first year here at BYU. That's one of the reasons why I came out here from the south to BYU."

The two also congratulated each other on their recent victories.

"We also talk about other things," Eason continued. "I congratulate him on his win [against Jacksonville State] and he congratulated me on my win [against Tulane], so we just talk about things like that and about how far we've come since high school. We also talk about what it was like when we used to compete in high school and about competing now in college, so on Saturday let the best man win."

Although the two friends will be competing against each other this weekend, they remain supportive of each other.

"We mostly just try and encourage each other to do our best," said Eason. "Like when he dropped that game-winning pass in the end zone against Miami I called him up and just tried to encourage him. We don't do a whole lot of trash talking but this Saturday, let the best team win."

"[Fortson] … has already been telling Corby what they're going to do to our defensive backs and our secondary," said Cougar corner and fellow Florida native Brandon Bradley. "For me this is fun and these are the games you play football for. This is the type of game that really gets you excited for, the intensity [and] the excitement. I'm just ready for it and I feel like our team is ready and excited and we're just ready to go out and have fun."

Like Eason, Cougar receiver O'Neill Chambers also has a friend playing on Florida State. Chambers and linebacker Vince Williams played on different high school teams but were two of the top players in their area, and because of that the two became acquaintances.

"[Williams] played for a different school called Ridge Community and we beat them 68-0 during my junior year in high school," said Chambers. "I think I ran him over that game too. I had a pick that game and then I was running down the sideline and ran him over and then I ran one of his teammates over. It was in my highlight where I got that interception and that was the team, so we had a football friendship back in high school during our senior year.

"He was number five and was the number-one rated linebacker in our area, but we used to see each other at camps and we were really cool with each other … He thought he was the best thing when it came to football and I had to keep reminding him that we beat him 68-0, so I had to keep reminding him about that during our senior years at camps and stuff. It's going to be fun seeing him again. He was rated as the number-one linebacker coming out of my class by S.P.A.R.Q., so he's a really good player. It's going to be fun playing against him again."

Although not a Florida native, Cougar defensive end Jan Jorgensen grew up a Florida State fan and circled this game on his calendar long ago. Bradley, however, never shared Jorgensen's enthusiasm for the Seminoles.

"I didn't grow up a Florida State fan," said Bradley with a laugh. "I grew up a Miami fan and so to me they are like my instate rival back home. My brother Xavier is a Florida State fan so we had a big clash when Miami played Florida State a few weeks ago. We both grew up fans of different colleges but we're both big BYU fans now."

Like with Bradley, this game against Florida State also holds a special place in the heart of Chambers.

"I'm a Miami fan too, so it's a Hurricane thing," said Chambers with a laugh. "We're Hurricane fans so this game has special meaning to us. This is a team we feel is a rival. This is fun and I can't wait. This is fun. We get the chance to prove ourselves and make doubters believers."

Not only does Chambers view Florida State a rival, but the Florida native also wants to make a personal statement this weekend.

"I wasn't really recruited by them," said Chambers. "I went to a couple camps out there, but I wasn't really recruited by Florida State. So this is a chance to prove myself and make doubters believers. This is a chance for me to say, ‘Hey, see what you missed out on.' All I have to say is this is a chance for us to make doubters believers."

In the audio interview below, Chambers talks more about proving himself and about the support he receives from people and former high school teammates back home among other things in this audio interview below.


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