In a now famous ruling in 2005, the NCAA banned the use of Native American mascots by its member institutions. Quick to appeal was Florida State University, which employs the Seminoles as its symbol. (FSU does not use the term “mascot,” maintaining that animals, not human beings, are mascots– hence, “symbol”). The NCAA allowed this exception, primarily due to the support of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The Tribe has a long history of supporting the school’s use of Seminole iconography.
But now the Seminole Tribe will be doing more than just supporting. They’ll be contributing. That’s because, next season, for the first time ever, an actual Seminole will suit up for FSU’s football team. Justin Motlow, of Tampa Catholic High School in Tampa, Florida, is one-quarter Seminole (his grandmother is 100% Seminole). The 5’9″, 190-pound receiver did not receive any scholarship offers, despite hauling in over 1,000 yards receiving last season, so he’ll join the National Champion ‘Noles as a preferred walk-on.
And just like his tribe, Matlow is very proud of the association: “That would be a huge honor. That’s not the main reason why I’m going there — I’ve always loved FSU, and they are a great program. But to be able to have a chance to represent the Nation, that’s an extreme honor.”
Playing time won’t come easy for Matlow. FSU returns leading receiver Rashad Greene, and could bring in one of the more impressive receiving classes ever. 5-star Travis Rudolph is already committed, 5-star Ermon Lane is expected to join him on National Signing Day, and the ‘Noles are even a possibility for 5-star Malachi Dupre. So Matlow will have his work cut out for him.
But remember: he’s a Seminole. And like the inscription reads on the statue of Chief Osceola outside of Doak Campbell Stadium, the Seminoles remain “Unconquered.”