Now that FSU football's 2016 opener against Ole Miss is just 99 days away, we're officially into countdown season. Social media accounts will be rife with pictures of Seminoles' jerseys in descending order, as we near the September 5 showdown in Orlando.
But here at Tomahawk Nation, we thought we'd take our countdown a step further, going beyond mere jersey images to instead take a look at the top players behind those numbers, thereby incorporating varying epochs of FSU history while also providing a platform for some intergenerational conversation and debate.
In considering the best 'Noles to don the No. 99, two names really lead the list: defensive tackle Travis Johnson, who wore 99 from 2001-2004, and the player who wore that number after him, defensive end Everette Brown (2006-2008). Both defenders are among the top five of FSU's all-time leaders in career tackles for loss, with Brown second (46.5) and Johnson fifth (42.5). Brown is tied for the third-highest single-season TFL record at Florida State, with 21.5 in 2008, while Johnson's 2004 total of 18 has him knotted with two others for tenth. Brown's 13.5 sacks in 2008 is also tied for the third-highest single-season sack total, and his career total of 23 is tied for sixth in program history.
Johnson and Brown each gathered a slew of All-American honors during their time in Tallahassee, as both built on promise shown early in their careers. Johnson was a first-teamer on the Sporting News' 2001 Freshman All-American Team, and by his senior year had worked his way to first-team All-American honors from ESPN and CBS, a second-team nod from College Football News, and a third-team AP selection.
Two years later, in 2006, Brown was a second-team Freshman All-American for College Football News and Scripps Howard, while garnering second-team All-American awards in 2008 from the AP, Walter Camp, The Sporting News, Scout.com, Phil Steele, and Rivals.com, with third-team honors from CNNSI.com. In that season, Brown had three separate games with three or more sacks-- the last 'Nole who can make that claim. To put that into perspective, the last time a Seminole had one game in a season with three or more QB takedowns was when Bjoern Werner did so against Florida in 2012.
And while he's primarily remembered for playing the majority of his career wearing No. 55, it's interesting to note that DT Jacobbi McDaniel wore No. 99 for the first two years of his time at FSU; he was a second-team Freshman All-American in 2009, per Scout.com.
Both Johnson and Brown were first-team All-ACC picks in their final collegiate seasons, and defensive linemen and fellow-99s David Warren and Nile Lawrence-Stample added second-team affirmations in 2000 and 2015, respectively. Warren would catch on with the Indianapolis Colts in 2001, and NLS is presently attempting to make the Cleveland Browns' roster. The first FSU No. 99 taken in the NFL Draft was linebacker Anthony Moss, who was a fifth-round pick of the New York Giants in 1991, although he lasted just one year in the League. However, he's tied for tenth on FSU's all-time sacks list, with 21.5, after posting 10.5 in his final season of 1990 (the 13th-highest single-season total in Florida State history). The Houston Texans grabbed Johnson in 2005's first round, while Brown was the lone 'Nole selected in 2009-- the Carolina Panthers nabbed him in the second round.
The other Florida State football players to have sported No. 99:
- Ron Moore (1981)
- Brian Slack (1982)
- Tommy Wilkins (1982)
- Bruce Heggie (1983-1986)
- Dulack Guerrier (1991-1994)
We'll have to see if any of the freshmen will wear No. 99, as the number is currently unspoken for. But what do you say, Seminole fans? Which 99 reigns supreme in FSU history?