Florida State TE Nick O’Leary, ‘lucky’ to survive motorcycle accident, looks to have breakout season

Nan O’Leary was warned that it would be difficult for her to watch the video showing her son hurtling through the air as his motorcycle broke apart.

But then her maternal instincts took over.

“We were told by the insurance guy, ‘I don’t want his mother to see this because he should be dead,’ ’’ Nan said Sunday. “I (thought), ‘OK, maybe I don’t want to see it.’ Then I wanted to see it because if any of my kids or any of my kids’ friends think they should get a motorcycle, I can say, ‘You need to watch this.’ ’’

The video, released 2 1/2 weeks ago, shows Florida State junior tight end Nick O’Leary’s May 2 accident in Tallahassee. His motorcycle slammed into a Lexus, propelling him several feet into the air and sending portions of the bike into the windshield of a city bus.

O’Leary, a former Dwyer High School standout, spoke publicly about the accident for the first time at FSU’s media day Sunday. He said he had hoped to maneuver the motorcycle between the car, which cut off O’Leary and then stopped, and the bus, which was stopped. When he realized there was no room, he made the split-second decision to hit the car and intentionally launch himself from the bike.

O’Leary landed near the bus’ rear tires and slid along the ground, his left leg swiping the bumper of a van that was stopped behind the bus.

The driver of the car was cited for causing the accident.

O’Leary’s initial reaction when he saw the video?


To say the least.

O’Leary’s family didn’t see the video until the day before it went viral online. All they had were pictures of the bike and Nick’s description, which didn’t paint the entire picture, especially since he was reluctant to talk about the accident.

“It was a lot worse than we thought,” said Bill O’Leary, Nick’s father. “Seeing Nick flying through the air was pretty shocking. … He could have been dead.”

Said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher: “The first time you see it you go, ‘Wow.’ He’s lucky. God has a plan for him. Very blessed.”

O’Leary was wearing sweat pants, a T-shirt and a helmet. He was taken to the hospital. Exams showed no broken bones, and although his left side was scraped and his left knee, shoulder and hands were raw and bloody, no stitches were needed.

“I walked off like normal,” said O’Leary, a grandson of golf legend Jack Nicklaus. “After that my leg started hurting a little bit, adrenaline started going down, then it started to kick in once I got to the side of the road.”

O’Leary’s left ankle required a walking boot for some time. He was back running routes on the practice field a month later and has no lingering effects as the Seminoles begin camp.

The tight end hopes the bond he has forged with redshirt freshman Jameis Winston and redshirt sophomore Jacob Coker, who are battling to start at quarterback, will lead to a bigger role in the passing game.

O’Leary had 21 receptions for 252 yards and three touchdowns last season but still felt like a bit of an outsider with senior quarterback EJ Manuel.

“I was an underclassman when EJ was here,” O’Leary said. “Jameis and Coker being my age and a year younger … they listen to me probably more than EJ listened.”

One publication lists O’Leary (6-foot-3, 246 pounds) as a preseason third-team All-American. Many analysts expect a breakout season.

Look for Fisher to make more use of O’Leary’s versatility, playing him also at H-back or even in the backfield.

One thing Fisher won’t have to worry about is O’Leary arriving to practice, or anywhere, on a motorcycle.

That trip on Mission Road almost 3 1/2 months ago was the last time O’Leary was on a bike.

“I’m done with them … at least until I’m done playing football,” he said.

Or as Nan O’Leary put it: “Nick is sticking to four wheels now.”