- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Forget Jameis Winston. Florida State’s biggest loss -- college football’s biggest loss, for that matter -- is a bearded, bespectacled, ginger-haired ball boy who turned the sideline into his own personal speedway. Frankie Grizzle, known to most as “Red Lightning,” became a national treasure with his sideline sprints during Seminoles games. Women swooned while barbers shuddered at the sight of Grizzle. Like Winston, Red Lightning is going pro, announcing Sunday that he’s joining the Atlanta Falcons. Grizzle’s move changed the Falcons’ training camp forecast -- hot with a 100 percent chance of Red Lightning -- but left college football with a little less sunshine for the 2015 season.
Who fills the massive void on the sideline? Here are three ball boys on our Doppler.
Jake Longenecker, Auburn: Red Lightning may be gone, but Blue Thunder is not. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn values speed in everything the Tigers do on offense and actively recruits ball boys with speed. Longenecker showed off his wheels last season against Arkansas, nearly beating wide receiver Melvin Ray to the end zone on a 49-yard score (to be fair, Longenecker had a running start). ESPN Sport Science even did a segment breaking down Red Lightning versus Blue Thunder.
Kwame Mitchell, Oregon: Florida State and Oregon occupied the undercard at the 2015 Rose Bowl/College Football Playoff semifinal. The main event featured Red Lightning vs. Mitchell, known as Chocolate Thunder. Like Grizzle, Mitchell sported a recognizable 'do and superb speed, which he needed to keep pace with Marcus Mariota and the Ducks' offense. Oregon wouldn’t have it any other way.
Cary Joe Davis, Ole Miss: He clearly needs a more creative nickname than "Ball Man," but his speed and enthusiasm make him a ball boy on the rise. Davis deftly dodged an official at Auburn on a Jeff Scott run in 2013. His post-touchdown celebrations are a must-see.
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