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FSU's All-Time Defensive Team By Position

A BEST-OF-SERIES OF PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED STORIES FROM THE TOMAHAWK NATION ARCHIVES

A collaboration by Fsued, Rich from GarnetandGreat.com, and FrankDNole.

During this somewhat slow football news period, and as we prepare for the start of fall practice next week in what we anticipate will be a season of progression, especially on the defensive side of the ball, I thought it might be fun to revisit a story we published last year which takes a look at the former great Seminole players whose contributions made FSU football one of the most respected and recognizable names in college football history. For those members who read this last year, we apologize for the redundancy. For all the newer members who joined TN after last July and have not read this, we hope you enjoy and we look forward to your opinions.

This is the first installment of our 2-part collaboration where we have selected FSU's All-Time #1 Players by position. Today in part one, we will name our All-Time #1 Defensive Players, and tomorrow in part 2, we will list our FSU All-Time #1 Offensive Players. These are the players we feel were the best at their position, had the most productive FSU careers, and whose contributions helped earn the FSU Seminoles the #9 most prestigious ever college football team ranking, according to the ESPN Research’s countdown of the most prestigious teams from 1936-2008.

As always, we here at TN appreciate and encourage your comments, thoughts, and opinions, whether you agree or disagree with our selections. These selections took some serious debating on our part before we finally agreed on these players. Please feel free to tell us who we missed or where we went wrong. 

Please keep in mind this compilation is based strictly on the performances that these fine athletes had only during their time here while attending FSU, and does not include their professional careers.

Here are our FSU All-Time #1 Defensive Players By Position, and what a line-up it is.

True Nose Guard=Ron Simmons

Defensive Tackles/Nose Guard Combo-Corey Simon

Defensive Tackle=Alphonso Carreker

Defensive End=Peter Boulware

Defensive End=Reinard Wilson

Inside Linebacker=Marvin Jones

Inside Linebacker=Paul McGowan

Outside Linebacker=Derrick Brooks

Outside Linebacker-Reggie Herring

Cornerback=Deion Sanders

Cornerback=Terrell Buckley

Safety=Leroy Butler

Safety=Monk Bonasorte

Punter=Rohn Stark

Punt Blocker=Bobby Butler

FG Blocker=B.J. Ward

Punt Returner=Willie Reid

All-Time Special Team Player=Joe Wessel

Please hit the jump to read more about these special players and to see our Honorable Mention list of players by position.

Our FSU All-Time #1 Defensive Players By Position are:

True Nose Guard

Ron Simmons-NG (1977-80) Latest of the 4 FSU players to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.  FSU's first 2-time consensus All-American and too many other honors to mention here. 483=CT, 25=Sck, 44=TFL,19=FF, 8=FR, 4=BK

When Ron Simmons was signed out of Warner Robins, Georgia, he was one of Florida State's greatest recruiting victories. He made an immediate impact as a freshman and he was the difference in his first game at FSU earning national lineman of the week honors. He would finish his first year as The Football News freshman lineman of the year. He earned consensus All-America honors in 1979 and 1980, and was a finalist for the Lombardi Trophy in 1980. The powerful middle guard led FSU to the top of the polls, into two Orange Bowls and a Tangerine Bowl and to four consecutive victories over Florida. He was the first defensive player in FSU history to have his number retired.

 

Defensive Tackles/Nose Guards Combo

Corey Simon-DT to NG (1996-99) Consensus All-American,  36=GP, 44=TFL, 193=CT, 11=Sck, 1=Int, 9=PBU, 3=FF, 3=FR

The photo of Corey Simon embracing the 1999 National Championship trophy after the Seminoles had defeated Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl is one of the iconic images of college football. A consensus All-America defensive lineman as a senior in 1999, Simon takes his rightful place as one of the finest players in FSU's storied football history.

Simon was the defensive leader of FSU's 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 battled injuries during the early part of his career before his break-out season as a junior when he earned first team AP All-America honors and won the ACC's Brian Piccolo Award.

Simon was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the sixth overall pick of the 2000 NFL Draft and had an outstanding professional career before being forced to retire in his prime for medical reasons while he was with the Tennessee Titans.

Alphonso Carreker-DT (1980-83) 19=TFL, 21=Sck, 252=CT, 1=Int, 4=PBU,  2=FF, 4=FR, 4=BK

"Not only may he be as good as there is in America, but he may be the best tackle to have ever played at Florida State." Behind those words of assistant head coach Chuck Amato, Alphonso "Chub" Carreker led the Seminole defensive line for practically his entire tenure at FSU from 1980-83. Following the likes of Hall of Famer Ron Simmons, Carreker became well known to opposing offenses, often being double or even triple-teamed. One of the hardest working players ever to play at Doak Campbell Stadium, he was a team leader who provided the Seminoles with inspiration and the drive to endure. He was drafted in the first round by the Packers in 1984 and started for both Green Bay and Denver over a 10 year NFL career.

 

Defensive Ends

Peter Boulware-DE (1993-96) 3 year starter (94-96), Consensus All-American, National Defensive Player of the Year, All-ACC, broke Ron Simmons season sack record of 12 sacks with 19 sacks and finished with 34 career sck, 33=GP, 151=CT,  28=TFL, 7=FF, 3=FR, 3=PBU, 1=BK

Peter Boulware was a lightning quick pass rusher who earned a place among the 50 best football players in ACC history as well as becoming a perennial all-pro in the NFL. Boulware led the nation and set an FSU single season record with 19 quarterback sacks as a junior in 1996 while earning consensus All-America honors. He was named the Football News National Defensive Player of the Year and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 1996. An outstanding student, Boulware graduated early from Florida State and chose to enter the NFL draft. He would almost certainly have set the school record for career quarterback sacks had he stayed, since he finished with 34 over three seasons, which was just 1.5 short of the record.

 

Reinard Wilson-DE (1993-96) Consensus All-American, FSU's all time career sack leader with 35.5 sck, 33=GP, 234=CT,  27=TFL, 2=Int, 7=PBU, 7=FF, 2= FR,1 safety

No position in all of college football was more feared during the 1990s than that of defensive end at Florida State and Reinard Wilson was one of the stars who earned that respect. He combined a tireless work ethic that followed him from his rural upbringing in nearby Lake City, FL with the upper body strength of a down lineman and the quickness of a linebacker to become the prototype college end of the decade. He could overpower an offensive lineman or beat him with his speed.

Wilson led the ACC in quarterback sacks in 1994 and was selected All-ACC in 1995 and 1996. As a senior in 1996, Wilson earned First-Team All-American honors from four organizations and he joined teammate Peter Boulware to give FSU the rare feat of having both consensus All-American defensive ends coming from the same team. Wilson led the 1996 team with 105 total tackles and 13.5 quarterback sacks. Over his four-year career he accumulated a school record 35.5 sacks, playing on some of the finest defenses in college football history including the 1993 team that won the school's first national championship.

In 1997, Wilson was one of four Seminoles selected in the first round of the NFL Draft when he was chosen 14th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played seven years in the NFL for Cincinnati and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Reinard Wilson's relentless effort and accomplishments make him one of the greatest defensive linemen in FSU history.

 

Linebackers

Marvin Jones-ILB (1990-92) 2-time Consensus All-American, First FSU player to win 2 awards in the same year by winning the Butkus and the Lombardi Awards in 1992, and too many other awards to list here.   27=TFL, 369=CT,  5.5=Scks, 3=Int, 1=FF

Marvin Jones was one of the finest linebackers in the history of college football. In 1992, Jones 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 Lombardi Award signifying the nation's top linemen.

A stunning combination of speed, strength, and instinct, Jones terrorized FSU opponents. He was called the finest linebacker in college football history by a number of experts over his FSU career. Nicknamed "Shade Tree" after resting under one following an early FSU practice his freshmen year, Jones went on to become such an intense competitor that opposing offenses all but conceded running the ball up the middle on the Seminoles.

Jones tallied 111 tackles and seven tackles for a loss as a junior in 1992, while leading the Seminoles to an 11-1 record. He made 10 or more tackles in nine games and finished fourth in the balloting for the 1991 Heisman Trophy. Jones finished his career a two-time consensus All-American and a first team All-ACC choice in 1992.

Jones was selected with the fourth pick of the 1992 draft following his junior season by the New York Jets. At that time, it was the highest an FSU player had ever been selected in the NFL draft.

 

Derrick Brooks-OLB (1991-94 OLB) 2-time Consensus All-American, Football Writer's National Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and senior, finalist for the Butkus and Lombardi, and too many other football and academic awards to list here.   30=GP, 274=CT,  8.5=Sck, 18=TFL, 5=Int, 4=FF, 2=FR, and 3 career TD's

Derrick Brooks came to Florida State as one of the most heralded recruits ever and left FSU having set a new standard for the outside linebacker position.

A two-time consensus All-American and an NFL first-round draft choice in 1995, 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. His ability to run like a receiver and make plays like a defensive back made him one of the most exciting players in all of college football.

Brooks earned four varsity letters (1991-94) and was the defensive leader on Florida State's first national championship team in 1993. He recorded 274 career tackles and was a finalist for the Butkus, Lombardi, and Football Writer's National Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and senior. Brooks was also a top scholar-athlete who won an NCAA post-graduate scholarship and earned Academic All-America honors following his senior season. He was a GTE Academic All-America second team selection and named the ACC All-Academic team as a junior.

 

Paul McGowan-ILB (1984-87) FSU's first player to win a national award by winning the Butkus Award, 456=CT, 32=TFL,  3=Sck, 3=Int, 1=TD, 6=FF, 6=FR

Middle linebacker Paul McGowan forged a name for himself with consistent play and ferocious tackling that eventually distinguished him as Florida State's first Butkus Award winner. In fact, when McGowan won the 1987 he became the very first Seminole football player ever to win a major individual award. McGowan played from 1984-87 leading the Seminoles in tackles as a sophomore, junior and senior. His 14 tackle performance against Nebraska as a sophomore brought Associated Press Player of the Week honors and he took off from there to become one of the finest defenders in the nation.

 

Reggie Herring-LB (1977-80) 452=CT, 7=Sck, 13=TFL, 2=Int, 3=FF, 4=FR

Reggie Herring was one of the most talented linebackers to play at Florida State. The leading tackler in each of his final three seasons, Herring combined with fellow linebacker Paul Piurowski for more than 200 stops in 1979 and 1980. The Seminoles posted a perfect 11-0 regular season record his junior year and were 10-1 over his senior year behind the pair, and made consecutive trips to the Orange Bowl. His senior campaign included an incredible 170 tackles and six sacks. He went on to a successful career as a college coach.

 

Corner Backs

Deion Sanders-CB (1985-88) 2-Time Consensus All-American, Jim Thorpe winner,  and too many other awards to list here,  Perhaps FSU's All Time Greatest Athlete (3 yrs Baseball and 3 yrs T&F), 4 year football starter, 43 GP, 14 Int, 4 TD's on Int's including one for 100 yards, 186=CT, 2=TFL, 2=QBH, 27=PBU, 4=FF, 1=FR, 3 TD's on punt rets (126 punts for 1429 yards or 11.3 avg, with long of 76 yds)

Widely considered one of the finest athletes in professional sports history, Deion Sanders proved from the start at Florida State he would be something special. As a freshman, "Prime Time" started at cornerback, played outfield on the baseball team which finished fifth in the nation, and led the track team to its tenth conference championship. A two-time consensus All-American in football, Sanders was the 1988 Thorpe Award winner as the nation's finest defensive back. His 14 career interceptions ranked among the top two in school history and he was the top punt returner at FSU. He was drafted as by both the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Yankees and played both sports earning All-Pro honors with the Falcons, 49ers and Cowboys and becoming a superstar in centerfield for the Braves, Reds and Giants.

 

Terrell Buckley-CB (1989-91) Consensus All-American, Jim Thorpe winner, plus many other awards. Was also a 3 sport athlete, set NCAA career record for  interception yardage with 501, 21=Int, 4 TD's on Int's, 103=CT, 3=TFL,  15=PBU,  2=FF, 1=FR, 3 TD's on punt returns on 82 punts for 1000 yds with a 12.2 avg, and longs of 69 and 67

Cornerback Terrell Buckley owned most of FSU's interception records following his terrific three-year career from 1989-91. Buckley earned consensus All-America honors as a junior after setting a Seminole record with 12 interceptions in 1991. He became FSU's second Jim Thorpe winner following his junior campaign. He held the FSU career record for pass interceptions with 21 when he was inducted and was also one of the Seminoles' all-time great punt returners. He scored seven career touchdowns, four on interceptions and three on punts. His interception return for a touchdown on the second play of the 1991 game at Michigan was quintessential FSU football. He was the fifth pick in the 1992 NFL draft after his junior year and played over 15 years in the NFL.


Safeties

Leroy Butler-FS to CB (1986-89) Consensus All-American, Punt-Rooskie guy against Clemson in 1988,  194=CT, 1=Sck, 3=TFL, 9=Int including one for 87 yards, 2=TD, 14=PBU, 3=FF, 2=FR

He wasn't a typical child growing up in the Blodgett Homes projects in Jacksonville, Fla. LeRoy Butler struggled with extremely weak bones in his feet causing a misalignment that prevented him from running. Several years in his youth were spent in braces, casts or even a wheelchair for a time. By the seventh grade, LeRoy's feet had healed and the doors would soon open to a whole new world.

By 1986, LeRoy had become one of the most honored football players in the history on Lee High School. He was named to the Bally and Adidas All-America teams and ranked in Football News' top 100 recruits.

Bulter became a household name for his role in the punt-rooskie play against Clemson in 1988. His senior season he moved from free safety to cornerback to replace teammate Deion Sanders. That season he had key interceptions in wins over Miami, Syracuse and Virginia Tech, finishing the year with seven interceptions, which to this day still lists him 4th on the Seminoles' single season record. He was a consensus All-American at defensive back and in the summer, Bulter was named MVP of the Japan Bowl after an interception and 67 yard punt return. In 1990, Butler was selected in the NFL's second round and 48th pick overall by the Green Bay Packers.

LeRoy Butler played his entire NFL career for the Packers. He was a six time NFL Pro-Bowler became the first NFL player in history to record 40 career interceptions and 20 career sacks. Butler is also known as the originator of the Lambeau Leap, where the players soar into the stands after scoring a touchdown on their home turf. In 1999, #36 was voted "NFL Man of the Year" for his extensive off-field community service.

 

Monk Bonasorte-S (1977-80) Arrived as 5th string walk on who then started 43 games, 15 career INT's, 201=CT, 3=TFL, 5=FF, 4=FR, 1=BK

Monk Bonasorte was a fifth-string walk-on with virtually no shot at playing time when he began at FSU in 1977 and by the time he left he had etched his name in FSU football history. After a solid sophomore campaign in 1978 with 72 tackles and three interceptions, Bonasorte stepped into the spotlight and starred on one of the toughest defenses in FSU history. He led the nation in interceptions for the majority of his junior season in 1979, finishing with eight, which ranked fourth in the nation and set a new Florida State record. Four interceptions over his senior season gave him the FSU career mark with fifteen at the time. He enjoyed a brief pro career and served as an assistant coach in the USFL before settling in Tallahassee.

 

Punter

Rohn Stark-P (1978-81) aka "Thunderfoot", many 1st team All-American honors, NCAA Decathlon finalist,  244 punts for 10,418 yards or 42.7 avg.  Also had a 16 year NFL career with 1,134 punts for almost 50,000 yards and a career avg of 43.6.

One of the greatest all-around athletes ever to wear the garnet and gold, Rohn Stark starred as a punter and decathlete for the Seminoles. After his four-year career as FSU's punter was over, Stark had virtually every record including most career punts, highest season average (46.0) and highest career average (42.7). He earned first team All-America honors in 1980 and 1981 and was a team captain as a senior. The spring of his senior year, he cemented his spot as one of FSU's all-time greats, winning All-America honors as a decathlete as well. He went on to become one of the finest punters in NFL history.

 

Punt Blocker

Bobby Butler-DB (1977-1980) Another 2 sport athlete (T&F) who blocked 5 punts, 11 Int, 101=CT. 4=TFL, 2=FR, 1=TD, 6=BK.  Also had a 12 year NFL Career.

Bobby Butler starred on some of the finest defensive teams in Florida State history. His reputation as a cover cornerback was so strong that teams steered clear of him for most of his junior and senior seasons yet he still managed 11 career interceptions which ranked among FSU's Top 10. Butler, who consistently started from 1977-80, finally received recognition by the national media as a senior when he was named third team AP All-American. He led an FSU defense that helped the Seminoles finish 39-8 over his career with berths in two Orange and one Tangerine Bowl. No Seminole fan was surprised to watch him excel for 11 seasons for Atlanta who picked him in the first round.

 

FG Blocker

B.J. Ward-FS (2001-04) Another 2 sport athlete (T&F) who blocked 7 FG's. On defense had 138=CT, 3=TFL, 1=Int, 8=PBU,  2=FF, 2=FR, and also caught 6 passes as a WR.


Punt Returner

Willie Reid-WR (2002-05)-3 TD's on 69 punts for 1,063 yards or 15.4 avg, including a 87 and 83 yard return in 45 games.  Offensive stats=91=rec, 1046=yds for a 11.5 Avg, 3 TD, and  63 rushes for 309 yds or a 4.9 avg also with 3 Td's. Also had 16 Kick rets for 304 yards


All-Time Special Team Player

Joe Wessel-DB (1982-84)-5 career blocked kicks total including 4 blocked punts, 3 TD's scored off blocked punts, 3 TD's scored on punt returns

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Odell Haggins-NG (1985-89) 278=CT, 16.5=Scks, 12=TFL, 1=Int, 1=TD, 9=PBU, 3=FF, 3=FR, 1=QBH

Darnell Dockett-DT (1999-03) FSU career leader in TFL with 65, 52=GP, 248=CT, 10.5=Sck, 51=QBH, 19=PBU, 4=FF, 1=FR

Andre Wadsworth-DE (1994-97) Consensus All-American, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Outland Trophy Finalist, 42=GP, 233=CT,  23=Sck,  33=TFL,  4=PBU, 5=FF, 4=FR 

Andre Wadsworth moved to Miami from St. Croix when he was five years old. He played basketball and started football in the 8th grade. By his senior season, he was named MVP in both sports and honored as All-Dade County. He did not receive and Division I scholarship offers, so Coach Chuck Amato invited Wadsworth to walk on to the Seminole squad.

After a redshirt season, #85 went on to have four successful years wearing the garnet and gold and became on of the greatest pass rushers in FSU and college football history. As a senior in 1997, he was named a first-team All-American by five organizations and was an NCAA Consensus All-American. He was one of the four finalists for the Lombardi Award, ACC Player of the Year, ACC Defensive Player of the year and All-ACC first-team. He was the recipient of the $10,000 Burger King College Football Scholarship in 1997 and led the ACC with 16 sacks. He was also named the CBS SportsLine Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Lineman of the Year from the Touchdown Club of Columbus, an Outland Trophy finalist and named one of the 30 Greatest ACC Players by College Football News.

Andre received his degree in business after his junior season and began his graduate work in Sports Administration while playing his last year at FSU. In the spring of 1998, the Arizona Cardinals selected Andre with the No. 3 pick, making him the highest FSU player to go in the NFL draft.

Wadsworth spent three seasons with Arizona and enjoyed a successful, but injury plagued career. He had four knee surgeries in just 15 months between November 1999 and January 2001. He totaled 119 tackles, 65 solo, and 8 quarterback sacks. He made three fumble recoveries and one interception in 36 appearances, 30 of which he started.

Jamal Reynolds-DE (1997-2000) Consensus All-American, 42=GP, 170=CT, 23.5=Sck, 33=TFL, 11=QBH,  3=PBU, 4=FF, 3=FR, 1=TD, 3=Safeties

Willie Jones-DE (1975-78) 20 TFL, 20 Sck, 183=CT, 6 FF, 8 FR, 1TD

Head coach Bobby Bowden called Willie Jones "the best player in the country at his position" during his career as a defensive end from 1975-78 that included 20 sacks. Jones was one of the main building blocks in Bowden's move to mold Florida State into a national powerhouse. Three times he was named to the All-South Independent team and as a senior, he was named to three All-America teams, including AP and UPI. He was the 1977 Tangerine Bowl MVP and finished his career by taking MVP honors in the 1978 Senior Bowl. A second round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1979, Jones led the club in quarterback sacks (10) in his rookie season. He played five years for the Raiders and was a member of the 1981 Super Bowl squad.

 

Sam Cowart-OLB (1993-97) Consensus All-American, 33=GP, 338=CT, 9=Sck, 20=TFL, 1=Int, 5=FR, 3=TD

Linebacker from Jacksonville...after suffering a severe knee injury in 1996, came back and became an NCAA Consensus All-American...played eight years in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.

Paul Piurowski-LB (1977-80) 340=CT,  8=Sck, 7=TFL, 2=Int,1=TD, 8=FF

Paul Piurowski, one of the best linebackers to ever play in the garnet and gold, carved his way into Seminole history with an outstanding career. He was the fourth leading tackler on the team in 1978, despite missing several games and he ranked second as both a junior and senior. He combined with fellow linebacker Reggie Herring for more than 200 stops each year, the pair led the Seminoles to back to back Orange Bowl Classics. Piurowski's best season came in 1979 when he made 123 tackles, had six sacks, and scored a touchdown off an interception while helping Florida State to a perfect 11-0 regular season mark. During his final two seasons FSU posted 21 wins against just three losses.

 

Corey Sawyer-CB (1991-93)  Consensus All-American, 13=Ints, 82=CT,  20=PBU, 2=FR

Bobby Butler-DB (1977-80)-11=Int, 101=CT. 4=TFL, 2=FR, 1=TD, 6=BK

JT Thomas-DB (1970-72) 140=CT, 10=Int, 1=TD, 1=FR, 6=BK

One of Florida State's most brilliant defenders, James "J.T." Thomas began his Seminole career with a sensational performance and ended as an All-American. FSU's first black football player, Thomas blocked two field goals in his first game in 1970. His second preserved a 9-7 victory over Louisville. That same year, the Macon, GA, native tied the FSU record for single game interceptions with three. He was a brilliant open field tackler, great playmaker in the secondary and brought FSU fans to their feet with exciting rushes at punts and field goals. Thomas, who began as a cornerback and ended as a safety, was a first team All-American pick by Pro Football Weekly and Time Magazine as a senior in 1972. He went on to a great professional career with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning four Super Bowl rings as a member of the famed "steel curtain" defense.

Chris Hope-FS (1998-2001) 46=GP, 234=CT, 8=TFL, 11=Int, 21=PBU,  4=FF, 2=FR, 1=TD

PR-Deion Sanders (1985-88) 3 TD's on 126 punts for 1,429 yards or 11.3 avg.

Key:  GP=games played, CT=career tackles, Sck=sacks, TFL=tackles for loss, FF=fumbles forced, FR=fumble recoveries, PBU=passes broken up, BK=blocked kicks, QBH=qb hurries,

Note:  Stats do not include Bowl games played before 2002.  Some stats not available for earlier years.

OK, now it’s your turn.  Which players do you agree with and which do you disagree with, what changes would you make, and why?

Also, please visit http://garnetandgreat.com/ to learn more about the Heroes, Highlights & History of FSU Football.

Finally, Today's Trivia Question Is (No cheating please):

Who is FSU's all time leading tackler?