Behind The ScenesNCAAF

Is the Florida State “Pencil Roll” from SportsCenter the next “What Does the Fox Say?”

Florida State running back Devonta Freeman demonstrates the “pencil roll” for ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards

The hype has been building all week for Saturday’s ACC showdown between No. 5 Florida State and No. 3 Clemson (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). Some are calling it the biggest football game in league history. Others believe the winner has an inside track to the BCS title game.

But when the dust settles late Saturday night, it could very well be a growing viral video and song (and GIF) spurred by an impromptu, live request from ESPN reporter Jeannine Edwards that is most remembered from the clash of undefeateds.

“When I saw the video and song I was laughing so hard I doubled over,” said Edwards, who will be the sideline reporter for Saturday’s Oregon State at California game (ESPN2, 10;30 p.m.). “I mean, who wrote it, who sang it, where did it come from?? I have no idea. But they’re clever, and they work fast. That thing wasn’t even 24 hours old.”

Edwards was on the FSU campus earlier this week as part of SportsCenter’s “All Access” series which brought fans a look at the preparations for the big game from both the Seminoles’ and Tigers’ perspectives. (Reporter Shannon Spake was at Clemson on Wednesday.)

During a discussion with FSU players in their weight room, Edwards played the role of strength coach and asked FSU’s leading rusher, running back Devonta Freeman, to give her 100 “pencil rolls” as his teammates James Wilder, Jr. and Christian Jones looked on, laughing. (Jones had demonstrated a 225-pound power clean lift, so Edwards was teasing Wilder and Freeman to show some of their skills.)

“I learned about the pencil rolls right before we did our live shot,” Edwards said. “I was talking with FSU Strength Coach Vic Viloria and asked him what the players’ least favorite drill or exercise was. He said ‘Well, no one likes to do pencil rolls.'”

Devonta Freeman finishes his “pencil rolls” in the FSU weight room.

Viloria said they are used as “reminders” when a player is late, slacks off, misses a workout or otherwise messes up. Note: Proper pencil rolls are done across the field, not in the weight room.

“I didn’t prepare the players ahead of time that a pencil roll request – or ‘demand’, however you want to look at it – would be coming,” said Edwards. “I did not know pencil rolls are used as a discipline thing in college football, but afterwards I asked my husband, [Oklahoma State assistant coach Glenn Spencer] if he had heard of them and he said, ‘Yes, I’ve used those before’.”

“Our ‘All Access’ series is meant to bring fans into places they don’t normally get to go,” said SportsCenter Senior Coordinating Producer Michael Shiffman. “Having Jeannine in the FSU weight room with players is an example of that. She hadn’t planned on asking for ‘pencil rolls’ but when she did and [Freeman] volunteered, it made for a cool TV moment. . . And now a song and a video!”

“Pencil rolls must be the football equivalent of ‘time outs’ or sitting in the corner,” Edwards said. “I have never purposely pencil rolled, however a couple of my spills off of racehorses in my former career [as an exercise rider, apprentice jockey, and trainer] may have resulted in an inadvertent one.”

As for the lasting power of the song and video, Edwards said she thinks it’s hilarious but, “Devonta may not think so, though. Poor guy is the Seminoles’ leading rusher, but he may be more famous right now for having a rap song about his pencil-rolling live on SportsCenter.”

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