Seminoles football: Javien Elliott talks journey from FSU walk-on to NFL starter
Before his hard work came to full fruition in 2015, Javien Elliott had every opportunity to give up on his hopes of playing football.
Only having taken one recruiting visit in high school (an unofficial to South Alabama), Elliott pitched himself to Florida State as a walk-on prospect, getting some mild interest but no tangible opportunity when graduating from Rutherford High School in 2011.
“Coming out of high school, I didn’t have any scholarship offers,” Elliott said, speaking on this week’s Seminole Wrap. “And because of that, I didn’t think that I would ever play football again.”
“I never really knew that I will be able to even go and play at Florida State. Like, obviously, it was an idea and it was a plan. But there’s imposter syndrome, you know, where you just feel like you’re not enough and you feel like you can’t do what you see other people do. Where I’m from, people don’t go D1 or to the NFL, so it was like a pipe dream.”
After earning his AA from Tallahassee Community College, he once again reached out to FSU — and this time, an opportunity was given, placing him on the Seminoles scout team.
“Once football was kind of taken away from me, after high school, I kind of went into a depressive state, not really knowing what was next. And then once that opportunity came again, it was like. “I have to take full advantage of this opportunity man” because, you know, everyone doesn’t have the opportunity to go and play college football.”
“Day one, we started with fourth quarter drills. They try to see who’s mentally tough enough to survive. It’s like, man, if you can get through this, you can do anything. So that built my confidence up before even planning to step on a practice field — it’s like, wait a minute, I’m just as fast as him, I’m just as strong as this guy, and he’s a five-star. That doesn’t mean he’s not good, but it’s like, wow, like, we’re the same. You know, and once I kind of got that mindset, I just continued to grow that confidence.”
By 2015, Elliott was on scholarship and earning starting snaps for the Seminoles, logging 37 tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and two forced fumbles.
He parlayed that senior season emergence into a free agent signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, earning a contract and kicking off a professional career that now includes stops with the Carolina Panthers and most recently, the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL.
Elliott joined Brian Pellerin and Max Escarpio on the Seminole Wrap, where he detailed his journey to Florida State and beyond, talking about the work behind the work in hopes of letting another kid from a small town without access to big camps that there is a shot for them as well.
“Everything that I’m doing now is to get people to believe that no matter how big or how grand their dreams are, you know, no, don’t sell themselves short. Put yourself out there and go chase it.”
And more importantly — he hopes (especially through his YouTube channel) to illustrate to those players that they are more than the game, and aren’t just defined by their status on a roster.
“Football is what you do and not who you are and I feel like for a lot of athletes once it gets taken away from them, we lose ourselves.”
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The Tomahawk Nation podcast channel, presented by SB Nation, features insider Seminoles recruiting, football, basketball, baseball, softball, and soccer analysis and commentary, featuring shows hosted by staff writers Tim Alumbaugh, Matt Minnick, Michael Rogner, Brian Pellerin, and Ben Meyerson, featuring contributions by Josh Pick, David Stout, Jon Marchant, Max Escarpio and the entire Tomahawk Nation staff, produced by managing editor Perry Kostidakis.