Florida State Football: Ranking the Retired Jerseys of Florida State
Florida State was the team that other programs would hope to draw for homecoming games before 1976, when Bobby Bowden took the reins of a shamed program.
Now FSU consistently ranks as one of the better programs in the history of college football, and with two Heisman trophy winners and two national championships, it is easy to understand why.
The list of players who have donned the Garnet and Gold is an impressive one. Many players went on to the professional ranks, but a famous actor, professional wrestler and FSU President are also on that list of past Seminole players.
Currently, only nine players have been deemed worthy of having their jerseys retired. To the casual fan, some of the names are not immediately recognizable, but others are very well-known.
Know that this list ranks the college careers of these players with retired jerseys and that their pro careers, no matter how impressive, were not taken into consideration.
With that said, let’s see the rankings.
9. Ron Simmons (1977-1980)
Ron Simmons is one of the names that many fans won’t know off the top of their heads.
Simmons was a defensive nose guard from near the beginning of Bobby Bowden’s tenure in Tallahassee. He describes Bowden as a major influence on his life, and he had a great career as a ‘Nole.
Ironically, Simmons is ninth in the countdown while he also finished ninth in Heisman voting in ’79.
Despite his successful collegiate career, he might be better known for his professional career that wasn’t in football.
Farooq was the ring name of Simmons during his career with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He became the first ever African American world heavyweight champion of the WCW.
As a result of his successful career as a Seminole, Simmons has been elected College Football Hall of Fame.
8. Terrell Buckley (1989-1991)
Terrell Buckley was only a two-year starter in Tallahassee, but he set defensive records that have lasted for nearly two decades.
In 1991, Buckley had 12 interceptions in his senior season and had 21 interceptions in his career. Both records, as mentioned previously, are still standing.
Buckley did not go on to have the pro career of some of his contemporaries he shares this list with, but his career as a Seminole is one that has been admired for years and will continue to be so.
He currently is the strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater.
7. Fred Biletnikoff (1962–1964)
This ranking is bound to surprise some people as Biletnikoff is easily regarded as one of the best receivers in NFL history; however, this ranking is a reflection of his FSU career.
Do not mistake the fact that Biletnikoff had a marvelous career as a ‘Nole, and he has a retired jersey for a reason.
He was the first consensus All-American at FSU and ended up being a second round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders, with whom he won Super Bowl IX. He had a unique ability to make the big catch in the clutch as a player both in the collegiate and pro ranks.
He is most famous for the massive quantities of Stickum he used as a player. Despite this fact, his records are still valid in the NFL record books, and he has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
6. Derrick Brooks (1991–1994)
I feel like I am insulting a legend by ranking Derrick Brooks at sixth on this list, but it goes to show how prestigious this list really is.
Brooks had nothing short of an outstanding career at Florida State, even though it is possibly overshadowed by his accomplishments at the professional level.
While not having many records or awards to his name as a college athlete, Brooks was a major part of Bobby Bowden’s first national championship in 1993 with an Orange Bowl win over Nebraska.
As mentioned earlier, he went on to an amazing pro career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that included a Super Bowl win in 2003.
Since officially retiring in 2010, he can be seen on ESPN’s morning show FirstTake as an NFL analyst and on the debate desk with Skip Bayless.
5. Warrick Dunn (1993-1996)
Quite possibly the greatest running back in FSU history, his career as a Seminole is nothing short of historic.
The name Warrick Dunn is still at the top of nearly every rushing record in school history, including rushing yards for a season (1,242 in 1995) and career (3,959).
Dunn was the last 1,000-yard rusher for FSU and was the last ‘Nole to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons rushing.
He was just a freshman on the national championship team in 1993 but still had an impact throughout the season. He also was a part of one of the greatest fourth quarter comebacks in the “Choke at Doak.”
Dunn went on to an impressive pro career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons that included Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, three-time Pro Bowl selection and membership in the 10,000 Rushing Yards Club.
4. Ron Sellers (1966–68)
Ron Sellers' name is one that might not be as well-known in Seminole history, but definitely should be.
The reason he is so high on this list is that he holds every FSU receiving record and has since 1968, which was by far his best season in Tallahassee. Seriously—every Seminole receiving record and the scoring record for a single game with 30 points against Wake Forest in ‘68.
His records encompass receiving yards for career (3,598), season (1,496), game (260) and receptions for career (212), season (86) and game (16).
The most impressive fact of all these records is that Sellers completed all of them in only 30 games, as freshmen were then ineligible and seasons were shorter in his time.
The pro career of Sellers was not well sustained, as he only played five years, but ended up on the Dolphins’ Super Bowl VIII team.
3. Deion Sanders (1985–1988)
Prime Time comes in at No. 3 on our list, which shows the strength of the list.
Deion Sanders was nothing short of legendary in his performances as a Seminole on the defensive side of the ball, along with his skills as a return man.
His personas as Prime Time and Neon Deion were outstanding efforts at creating marketability for this future NFL star. His rap video in 1988 with his Seminole teammates set the standard for his outgoing personality.
While not holding any records at FSU, Sanders is widely considered the best defensive back of all-time and paved the way for superstar cornerbacks that were paid handsomely for their work.
Since his retirement, he has become an analyst for NFL Network and a mentor to many current players including Devin Hester, Noel Devine, Michael Crabtree and Dez Bryant.
2. Chris Weinke (1997–2000)
Before Charlie Sheen ever thought about winning, Chris Weinke mastered the art. His record as a starter only has three losses, which are accompanied by 32 wins.
Weinke was a non-traditional student-athlete as he had pursued a baseball career before enrolling at Florida State at the age of 25.
He holds the passing records for career (9,838), season (4,167) and game (536). He also won a Heisman and the national championship against a Michael Vick-led Virginia Tech team. Not too shabby.
Weinke gave Bowden his second national title and first undefeated season.
He would later be drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He had a less than stellar career as a pro, but will always be remembered for his remarkable career in the Garnet and Gold.
1. Charlie Ward (1989–93)
Legend is the only word that can describe Charlie Ward.
Ward tops the list for his great Seminole career and as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in NCAA history.
The 1993 season was the season that belonged to Charlie Ward and none other.
Despite a loss to Notre Dame in “The Game of the Century,” Ward would lead the ‘Noles to an Orange Bowl victory over Nebraska for Florida State’s first ever National Championship.
Ward walked away from the 1993 season with the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award, Maxwell Award and the National Championship.
Even though he doesn’t hold many records at FSU, Ward is remembered as a winner, leader and one of the best athletes to ever grace Tallahassee.
Ward went on to a solid career in the NBA playing for the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets.
Charlie Ward, the legend.