The Florida State Seminoles boast a roster that features the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, but their biggest star stands on the sidelines.
Frankie Grizzle-Malgrat, better known by his nickname “Red Lightning,” is Florida State’s redheaded ball boy. The Seminoles are in the midst of one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history; Jimbo Fisher’s squad has already earned 13-0 record, a first overall ranking in the national polls, an ACC title. Yet somehow, Red Lightning has positioned himself as one of the school’s most visible figures.
The “Red Lightning” moniker didn’t originate at Florida State University. In an interview with USA Today, Grizzle-Malgrat explained that his nickname has been around since high school, where he played multiple sports. During one baseball game, he hit a triple. “I joked around after that saying, ‘I’m Red Lightning! I’m Red Lightning!’” the 5-foot-7 ball boy said. “And it just stuck.”
— Frankie Grizzle (@daonlyBigRed) December 18, 2013
Grizzle-Malgrat hustle is a large part of his persona at Florida State. The 21-year-old initially caught the attention of fans due to his propensity to sprint up and down the sidelines in celebration of a big play. In particular, Red Lightning drew national attention after he was spotted sprinting toward the end zone during the ACC championship game to celebrate a Jameis Winston touchdown.
“I couldn’t help myself,” he told USA Today. A video of his celebration went viral, amassing over one million views on YouTube.
Red Lightning is now something of a celebrity on the Florida State campus; students frequently stop him around campus to take pictures, USA Today reports. “I’m just doing what I would normally do,” Grizzle-Malgrat said. “But it’s nice to be recognized.”
Grizzle-Malgrat’s newfound celebrity status is a running joke in the Seminoles locker room. “They like it and poke fun at it all the time,” he told USA Today. “They say, ‘Oh, you’re such a celebrity, you’re such a superstar. You’re more famous than Jameis. You’re more famous than we are.’”
A junior at Florida State, Red Lightning plans to continue to work as a ball boy next year and ultimately hopes to pursue a similar position after graduation. “I’m going to do this as long as I can until the good Lord tells me I can’t do it anymore,” he told USA Today. “This is like a dream for me. It’s what I always wanted to do. I always wanted to be a part of the Florida State football team, so this is just a dream.”
Look for Red Lightning on Monday night, when the Florida State Seminoles take on the Auburn Tigers in the 2014 BCS National Championship game. The broadcast will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
[h/t For The Win]