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Friday, September 21, 2012
Who will transform tomorrow?

By Heather Dinich

My player to watch in Week 4 is Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins.

Much of the talk surrounding this game has been about Florida State’s defense against Clemson’s offense, but field position and special teams will be a critical factor. Clemson is all-too familiar with Hopkins, who has earned a reputation for the length and height of his kickoffs.

The last time these teams played in Tallahassee, Hopkins kicked a career-long, 55-yard field goal as time expired to give the Noles a 16-13 win.

“Special teams could very well be the difference in a game like this,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

“They have, I think, a very special kicker,” he said. “Their kicker has been outstanding. We all remember two years ago down there when he kicked a 55-yarder that would have been good from about 70 to win it. I got a chance to meet him at the ESPN awards thing last year. He’s a great, great kicker.”

Of the Seminoles’ 38 total kicks (30 kickoffs and eight punts), the Seminoles’ first three opponents have 257 total return yards -- an average of 6.8 yards per return. Hopkins has made more than 93 percent of his combined kicks (PAT and FG’s 165-177) in his past three seasons (2010-12), more than 81 percent of his field goals (47-58), and more than 99 percent of his PAT’s (120-121) in the past two seasons.

Hopkins enters Saturday’s game against Clemson needing 36 points to become the all-time leading scorer at Florida State and in the ACC. He could also finish his career as one of the all-time scorers in NCAA history. Hopkins has scored 32 points in the first three games and needs only 76 more to become the NCAA's all-time leader with 434 points.

Hopkins scored his career-high of 119 points as a sophomore in 2010, and he has averaged 108.7 points scored per season.