With a come from behind victory over Notre Dame in Thursday night's Champ Sports Bowl, the Florida State Seminoles took a significant step towards re-establishing themselves as a national force.
Unfortunately, redshirt sophomore cornerback Xavier Rhodes, one of the key players expected to help the Seminoles take the next step in 2012, suffered an ugly knee injury in the third quarter that could impact his ability for next season.
Though an ESPN sideline reporter characterized the injury as a "sprained knee" during the telecast, a source at the game said the injury "looks bad" and anticipated an MRI being ordered for Rhodes Friday.
Though only a redshirt sophomore, Rhodes had already established himself as one of the more intriguing press cornerback prospects in the country. The 6-1, 215 pound Rhodes had been enjoying a strong game matched up one on one with Notre Dame star Michael Floyd, proving the hype he'd begun to build with his play was well deserved. Though targeted on several occasions, Rhodes had helped limit Floyd, NFLDraftScout.com's top senior receiver for the 2012 draft, to only 3 catches for 22 yards in over a half of work.
On the play in which he was injured Rhodes collided with Floyd and safety LaMarcus Joyner competing for a pass down the left sideline. All three players hit the ground hard.
Rhodes initially popped up quickly off the sideline but then dropped suddenly to the ground, grasping his left knee in obvious pain. Florida State doctors quickly converged on him, and after a few moments, carefully helped off the field. Quickly thereafter it was announced that Rhodes had been ruled him out for the rest of the game with a sprained knee.
Floyd was able to return for a few plays, catching two passes for 19 yards, including a juggling five yard toughdown on the drive. He was limited the rest of the game due to what an ESPN sideline reporter characterized as a shot taken to his midsection. His absence clearly limited the Irish offense as they were out-scored 15-0 in the fourth quarter and eventually lost 18-14.
Floyd's inability to get back onto the field was disappointing. His injury, however, isn't likely to have any real effect on his pro stock.
For Rhodes, who some suggest had requested a grade from the NFL Advisory Committee, the extent of his injury could have a much greater impact.
Including the Champs Sports Bowl, Rhodes recorded 43 tackles in 2011. He also defended five passes, with one interception this season.