Unconquered: The 10 Greatest Players in Florida State Seminoles Football History

Rob MaysContributor IJanuary 7, 2012

Unconquered: The 10 Greatest Players in Florida State Seminoles Football History

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    In the years since its induction, there have been some great players to come through the Florida State football program. Some have been stars at the next level, some have been role players and some have never played another down of football after leaving.

    Many have left their mark on college football, earning several accolades including national championships, Heismans, All-American honors and Hall-of-Fame honors among other awards.

    These are the 10 greatest players in Seminoles history.

Honorable Mention: Corey Simon, DT, 1996-1999 and Marvin Jones, LB, 1990-1992

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    *These two players were a part of two elite Seminole teams but I just didn't feel that they were cut out for a top ten nod.

     

    Corey Simon, DT, 1996-1999

    Corey Simon was the defensive leader of FSU's 1999 wire-to-wire national championship team and led the ACC with 21 tackles for loss that season.

    He finished with 84 tackles as a senior, ranking fourth on Bobby Bowden’s only undefeated team.

    He was a finalist for both the Outland and Lombardi Trophies as a senior.

    He was named first team All-American and went on to be drafted sixth overall in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

    The one-time Pro Bowler went to be one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL before injuries derailed his career in his prime.

    He is a member of the Florida State University Hall of Fame.

    Marvin Jones, LB, 1990-1992

    Marvin Jones was one of the greatest defensive players in college football history.

    His 1992 season was one of the best defensive seasons in college football. That season,"Shade Tree", as he was known, became only FSU's third two-time consensus All-American, an honor he earned the previous year. His 111 tackles helped lead the Noles to an 11-1 mark, and he would finish fourth in the Heisman voting. 

    He also became the first Florida State player to capture two national awards in the same year when he earned both the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and the Rotary Lombardi Award signifying the nation's top linemen or linebacker.

    Jones would finish his career with 369 tackles (seventh all-time at FSU) and 28 tackles for a loss (third all-time at FSU). He would be selected by the New York Jets with the fourth overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft.

    He is a member of the Florida State University Hall of Fame.

# 10. Terrell Buckley, CB, 1989-1991

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    Terrell Buckley was a standout cornerback at FSU as well as the NFL.

    T-Buck, as he would be known in the NFL, only played two years in Tallahassee, but was a stud nonetheless.

    During his two years he would leave his stamp on not only the Seminole record books, but the NCAA as well.

    He holds the school records for most interceptions in a season with 12. Most interceptions in a career with 21 and most interception return yards with 501-also an NCAA record. 

    In 1991, Buckley led the nation with the aforementioned 12 interceptions, which he returned for 238 yards and two TDs.

    He was also named an All-American and claimed the Jim Thorpe Award, which was the second in school history, as the nation’s best defensive back.

    Buckley was also one of the best punt returners in school history, scoring three touchdowns on punt returns.

    He would finish his career with seven touchdowns, despite never playing offense (four interception returns, three punt). 

    He was selected with the fifth overall pick in the first round on the 1992 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.

    His number 27 jersey number was retired in 2011 during halftime against Louisiana-Monroe, joining eight other players I may or may not mention.

#9. Fred Biletnikoff, WR, 1961-1964

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    Fred Biletnikoff came to a fledgling Florida State program as a wide receiver in 1961 and would become the school's first consensus All-American.

    As a senior he set school single season records for receptions with 57, receiving yards with 987 and touchdowns scored with 11.

    He had a phenomenal 1964 Gator Bowl performance against Oklahoma State in which he set an FSU single game record with 13 receptions for 192 yards and four touchdowns.

    He finished his FSU career with 87 receptions for 1,463 yards and 16 touchdowns, which were all school records at the time. He also played defensive back, including an interception return for 99-yards.

    His number 25 was retired as soon as his FSU career was completed.

    Biletnikoff was drafted in the third round of the AFL draft in 1965 by the Raiders and Detroit Lions.

    Deciding to sign with the Raiders, he went on to become one of the best receivers in the history of the NFL playing for Oakland until 1978 and earning Super Bowl MVP honors in 1977.

    In 14 seasons with the Raiders, he was selected All-Pro 4 times. He gained 100 or more yards 21 times, led the NFL in receptions with 61 in 1971 and the AFC with 58 in 1972. He was elected to the Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991.

    In 1994, the NCAA established the Fred Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's best wide receiver, which is still given today.

#8. Chris Weinke, QB, 1997-2000

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    I know, I know, Chris Weinke? The old guy? Yes, Chris Weinke was 25 years-old when he enrolled at FSU in 1997, which was due to the fact that he was a Toronto Blue Jays prospect, but he quickly established himself as a threat on the football field.

    In Weinke's sophomore season he lead the 'Noles to a 9-1 record and a #2 national record before a season-ending neck injury.

    Weinke came back with a vengeance in 1999 and lead the preseason #1 ranked 'Noles to its first undefeated season and second National Championship. His performance in the Sugar Bowl win against freshman sensation Michael Vick and the Virginia Tech Hokies helped the 'Noles become the first team to finish the season as the wire-to-wire #1 ranked team.

    In his senior year, Weinke lead the nation with 4,167 yards passing en route to winning the Heisman Trophy, as well as the Johnny Unitas Award and the Davey O'Brien Award. He also lead the 'Noles to their second straight National Championship game where they would fall to the Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl.

    Weinke, who holds the distinction of being the oldest person to ever win the Heisman, was the first three year starter for Seminoles legend Bobby Bowden and still holds the ACC and FSU record for career passing yardage with 9,839. He also holds the FSU record for passing touchdowns with 79 which is also 12th on the NCAA list.

    He would finish his college career with a record of 32-3, which is the 7th best winning percentage in NCAA history. Weinke was drafted 106th overall in the fourth round of the 2001 draft by the Carolina Panthers.

    He spent 6 years mostly as a back-up, but his college career was one of the greatest. His number is one of nine to be retired by the school and is a member of the school's Hall of Fame.

    The beginning of this video is the greatest play-action I have ever seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvvr3R7vxhQ

#7. Warrick Dunn, RB, 1993-1996

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    Warrick Dunn was one of the most elusive players in college and pro football history. 

    He was a three time All-ACC performer and the only Seminole to rush for 1,000 yards three consecutive years. He holds the FSU single season (1,242) career rushing yards (3,959) career touchdowns (49) and games over 100-yards (21). 

    Dunn was an AP Honorable Mention All-American in 1995 and was also named an AP All-American performer on FSU's 4x100m relay track team in 1996.

    Drafted in 12th overall in 1997 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dunn made an immediate impact. He would be named to the Pro Bowl as well as earn AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Dunn would spend his first 5 years as a Buc before signing as a free agent with the Alanta Falcons in 2002.

    Dunn's Atlanta years were just as productive as his Tampa years. He would go on to earn his third Pro Bowl selection in 2005. Dunn would continue to play for the Falcons up until they signed Michael Turner as free agent in 2008. He would sign a two-year deal with his former team, where he would retire in 2009.

    Dunn was the consumate pro. He would win several Man of the Year awards due to his professinalism and humanitarian efforts.

    The smallish back was also very durable and unafraid to run up the middle, only missing 10 games in his career. He would finish his career with 49 touchdowns and as one of 30 running backs to have rushed for over 10,000 yards, currently sitting at #19 on the all-time list with 10,967. He would also finish as one of only ten players under 5'11" to accomplish the feat. 

    Dunn is now a minority owner with the Atlanta Falcons (no pun intended). He is one of nine FSU players to have their number retired by the school and is also a member of the school's hall of fame.

#6. Ron Sellers, WR, 1966-1968

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    Ron Sellers set the standard for receivers at the college level. As a flanker (old school for wide receiver), Sellers held most of the NCAA receiving records from 1968 until 1987. 

    He still holds Florida State career records for receptions (240), receiving yards (3,979), and most 200-yard receiving games (7).

    He was named consensus All-American in 1967 and 1968 set the Florida State single-game record of 16 receptions, single game record of 260 yards and single game touchdown mark with 5.

    In 1967, Sellers led the nation in receiving yardage (1,228) while ranking second in receptions (70).

    His number 34 jersey was retired in 1968, the second in school history.

    Sellers remains the most prolific receiver in school history.

#5. Peter Warrick, WR, PR, 1996-1999

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    Peter Warrick was one of the most elusive and dynamic players in college football history. If not for a shoplifting scandal, Warrick, who was the Heisman favorite going into the 1999 season, might be the greatest player in Florida State history.

    Warrick was a three-time All-ACC performer and a two-time Consensus All-American. He was also a two-time finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given the nation's top receiver.

    In 1999, he was the Seminoles leading receiver and scored from five different positions despite missing two games due to his off the field issues. Warrick would go from Heisman frontrunner to finishing sixth in the voting. After not being invited to the Heisman ceremony by the Downtown Athletic Club, likely for his role in the shoplifting scandal, Warrick put on a dominant performance in his final college game.

    Warrick would stake his claim as the best player in college football in the National Championship game at the Sugar Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

    Warrick would go on to record over 200 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns, including a juggling, diving catch with a defender draped over him. His 59-yard punt return for a touchdown is still considered by many to be one of the best they have ever seen.

    He would finish his career with more touchdown receptions (32) than any Seminole in history. His 207 career receptions and 3,517 receiving yards rank second all-time to Ron Sellers.

    He would be drafted fourth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2000 NFL Draft.

    Though not as dynamic in the NFL, Warrick was one of the best to ever play at the Doak.

    He was inducted to the Seminole Hall of Fame in 2010.

#4. Derrick Brooks, LB, 1991-1994

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    This one was a hard decision for me, as I didn't know what to do with Brooks. I knew he was a top five guy but I didn't know if he was a top three guy. 

    That being said, Brooks is the the greatest linebacker in Florida State history and one of the best in NFL history. With an absolutely freakish blend of tenacity, awareness and speed, due to his former position of safety, Brooks changed the definition of an outside linebacker.

    A two-time consensus All-American, Brooks was a dominating linebacker who was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year as a junior in 1994 and a three-time All-ACC first team selection during his career.

    As a part of the 1993 National Championship team, Brooks made 77 tackles, seven for a loss, en route to ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He finished his career with 274 tackles, five interceptions, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. 

    Brooks was the 28th selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1995 NFL Draft. In the NFL he took his game to a totally different level.

    He was named to 11 Pro Bowls, including 10 straight from 1997 to 2006, he was an All-Pro nine times, named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, which was the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance and win in Super Bowl XXXVII.

    Brooks would retire in 2010 as the greatest player in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history recording 1,698 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions, and six touchdowns.

    He is one of only nine players to have their jersey retired by the university and is also a member of their hall of fame.

    Brooks came as a boy and left the Man.

#3. Ron Simmons, DL, 1977-1980

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    DAMN! That singular word is what the man who may have been the greatest defensive lineman in FSU is more known for these days.

    Yep, Ron Simmons was not only a bad-ass in the ring, he was also a monster on the football field.

    Simmons would record 81 tackles, six sacks and 17 tackles for a loss in 1979, which would lead to a ninth place finish in the Heisman voting and earn his first of two consensus All-America awards.

    His career totals of 25 sacks and 44 tackles for a loss were Seminole records that would last for 16 years.

    He would lead FSU to four top 20 finishes, into two Orange Bowls and a Tangerine Bowl and to four consecutive victories over Florida. Simmons was also the first defensive player to have his jersey retired and by the university was inducted into the Florida State University Hall of Fame in 1986.

    He would be elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

    His professional football career was brief playing for the Cleveland Browns after being the 160th pick in the 1981 NFL Draft. His last pro game would be with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL in 1985.

    He would take up pro wrestling in 1986. An accomplished professional wrestler, he also holds the distinction of being the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the World.

#2. Deion Sanders, DB, PR, 1986-1988

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    Two words sum up Deion Sanders, Prime Time. Deion Sanders is the reason why they created the term "shut down corner." He not only eliminated his half of the field, he eliminated the whole field. 

    Whether it was on offense, defense, or special teams, when he was on the field you were in for a show. During his time at Florida State, Deion was a three sport star, competing in football, track, and baseball.

    His freshman year, he was a starter in the Seminoles' secondary, played outfield for the baseball team which finished ranked fifth in the nation, and was a member of the track and field team to a conference championship.

    He was two-time Consensus All-American in 1987 and 1988, in which he won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in college football and finished eighth in the Heisman voting.

    Sanders would finish his college career with 14 interceptions which ranks in the top two in school history, not including three in bowl games and 126 punt returns for 1,429 yards (tops in school history) with three touchdowns.

    Sanders would be drafted 5th overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 1989. He would spend his first five seasons in Atlanta before signing with the San Francisco 49ers for one year. This would be his best season as he won NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a Super Bowl. He would then sign as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995 and win another Super Bowl.

    His NFL career would span 14 years and five teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins, ending in 2003.

     During his NFL career, Sanders intercepted 53 passes for 1,331 yards (a 25.1 yards per return average), recovered four fumbles for 15 yards, returned 155 kickoffs for 3,523 yards, gained 2,199 yards on 212 punt returns, and caught 60 passes for 784 yards.

    He also recorded 7,838 all-purpose yards and scored 22 touchdowns: nine interception returns, six punt returns, three kickoff returns, three receiving, and one fumble recovery. His 19 defensive and return touchdowns are an NFL record. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls in 1991-1994, 1996-1999. He was also awarded the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.

    He holds the distinction of being one of only two players to score six different ways in the NFL, scoring a rushing touchdown in 1996, as well as being the only person to ever play in the Super Bowl and the World Series.

    His jersey has been retired by the university and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame and the Florida State University Hall of Fame.

#1. Charlie Ward, QB, 1991-1994

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    Charlie Ward is considered by many to be the greatest college football player of all-time (even greater than some guy named Tebow). He is also mentioned as one of the best all-around athletes of our time.

    Though he played no college baseball he was drafted as pitcher in the 1993 MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and in 1994 by the New York Yankees. He also played tennis and basketball. He still holds FSU basketball records for career steals at 236, steals in one game at 9 and ranks sixth all-time in assists at 396.

    Though he was good at other sports, football is where he was dominant. After spending time at punter and wide receiver his first two seasons on the team, Ward finally got his opportunity to play quarterback and had a solid 1992 season in which he finished 6th in the Heisman voting. 

    1993 would be Ward's coming out party and one of the most accomplished individual seasons in college history.

    Ward would complete 69.5%, throw for 3,032 yards with 27 TDs against only 4 INTs. He also ran 339 yards rushing and 4 TDs, stats that were groundbreaking at the time. This was before everyone was using spread offenses and the sport was so pass happy.

    He would go on to win Florida State's first Heisman Trophy, as well as 23 other accolades, including the Walter Camp Award, the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, ACC Player of the Year and was named NCAA Consensus All-American.  

    His dynamic ability to throw as well as run, helped him record 6,636 yards of total offense (second in FSU history), and the highest career completion rate in school history with a 62.3% mark.

    Despite his football accomplishments, Ward would decide to play basketball professionally after he was not drafted in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft, a notion he made clear would be the determining factor in his career choice. The New York Knicks drafted him 26th overall in the first round of the 1994 NBA Draft, where he would spend most of a solid NBA career.

    His jersey has been retired by the university and he is a member of their hall of fame. He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Fin.

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