TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher had been saying the past couple weeks that wide receiver Travis Rudolph would get his opportunity to make more plays.
On Saturday against Wake Forest, the junior had a chance to show why many thought he frequently would be doing more.
Rudolph had career highs in receptions (13) and yards (238) in the Seminoles’ 17-6 victory. It was a much-needed game for Rudolph as 13th-ranked FSU (5-2, 2-2 ACC) goes into the bye week with two weeks to prepare for an Oct. 29 showdown against No. 4 Clemson.
“I feel like that is how some games go. Some games Dalvin (Cook) has a career high, some games I can have a career high,” Rudolph said. “I feel like all the time I can have those games.”
The 238 yards was the fourth-best receiving day in school history and makes Rudolph the third player with multiple 200-yard games, joining Ron Sellers (five) and Craphonso Thorpe (two). Sellers has the school’s single-game yardage record with 260 yards against Wake Forest in 1968.
Rudolph made news on and off the field at the beginning of the season. A photo of him eating lunch with an autistic student during a trip to a middle school went viral on social media and made Rudolph a role model.
Sixth grader Bo Paske and Rudolph made the rounds on various shows. Paske and his family attended the first two FSU games. Rudolph said after Saturday’s game that he and Paske continue to talk.
On the field, Rudolph had a strong start, with 13 receptions for 179 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games. Going into the Wake Forest game, though, Rudolph had only six receptions for 80 yards.
Fisher has said the past two weeks that Rudolph had been playing his best football of the season even though the statistics didn’t bear that out. Leading up to the game, Fisher had lauded Rudolph’s blocking downfield on running plays.
Rudolph said he realized he had to remain patient and wait for his time.
“I feel like as a receiver you have to be good with and without the ball,” he said. “I felt like I was making some great blocks even when I wasn’t getting the ball and really being an all-around receiver.”
Rudolph found the ball going to him more after Bobo Wilson suffered a foot injury during the second quarter. Fisher said that due to the injury, they moved Rudolph around a little more as he got more favorable matchups in single coverage. Four of Rudolph’s receptions were for 25 yards or more.
His best play of the day, though, came in traffic. On the final play of the first half, Deondre Francois threw a Hail Mary that Rudolph caught off a deflection at the Wake 3. Rudolph was stopped a yard shy of the goal line for a 58-yard gain.
Going into the bye week, Rudolph is fourth in the ACC in yards (497) and tied for seventh in receptions with 32. If Wilson is out for an extended period, Rudolph will continue to be counted on the remainder of the season and could lead the team in receptions and yardage for the second straight season.
“Any time you go get numbers, look at it, it makes you feel good,” Fisher said. “It kind of validates what coaches are telling you. That’s his maturity. Instead of saying, no, I’m not, he just keeps doing what he’s doing, and now the balls came to him.”
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