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85 days to FSU football: Elite defender leads top No. 85s in 'Nole history

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Will anyone challenge a clear frontrunner?

Andre Wadsworth
Andre Wadsworth

Most jersey numbers in the 80s are worn by pass catchers, be they receivers or tight ends. But today's installment of our countdown to the 2016 Florida State football season features a number worn by a variety of position players: 85.

Choosing where to begin the discussion about the best No. 85 in Seminole history isn't difficult. Defensive end Andre Wadsworth, who wore No. 85 at FSU from 1994-1997, was drafted higher than any other 'Nole until Jameis Winston was taken first overall in 2015. Wadsworth, however, selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the third pick in 1998, remains the highest-drafted Seminole defender of all time. He was also a consensus NFL All-Rookie selection in his first year in the desert, and a 2004 Florida State Football Hall of Fame inductee.

Wadsworth was a terror in the trenches while in Tallahassee, and a fantastic story. The former walk-on would go on to be the 1997 Lombardi Award runner-up in his senior season as a consensus All-American, while also earning his spot on the ACC All-Academic Team. He was the ACC Player of the Year in 1997, too, and, it goes without saying, a first-team All-ACC selection that year after being a second-teamer the two years prior.

In '97, Wadsworth posted the second-highest single-season sack total in Florida State history, with 16, a big reason he finished his 'Nole career with 23, tied for the sixth-most at FSU. He wound up with 19 tackles for loss that year, also a tie for sixth in one season as a Seminole.

Tight end Pat Carter had a very nice career wearing the garnet and gold 85 as well. He was a first-team All-American for The Sporting News in 1987, and a second-teamer, per the AP, that same year, after improving on an AP Honorable Mention the year before. In both '86 and '87, he earned first-team All-South Independent honors, the closest thing to an All-ACC mention an FSU player could garner before the 'Noles joined their current conference in 1992. Carter was a second-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 1998. In 2105, Carter joined the FSU Football HOF.

Several other FSU 85s have secured all-conference-level honors as well. Bill Shaw was an Honorable Mention All-South Independent choice in 1971 as a defensive lineman, while tight end Lonnie Johnson earned second-team All-ACC honors in FSU's title season of 1993 ahead of the Buffalo Bills drafting him in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft. And Ryan Sprague, another 'Nole TE to wear No. 85 and win a national championship -- this one in 1999 -- was an All-ACC Honorable Mention in 2000, a year after being an ACC All-Academic honoree.

The first Seminole to wear No. 85, end Tom Feamster, was drafted into the League as well-- twice, actually. He was a 25th-round Cleveland Browns selection in 1954, and a fourth-round pick of the Rams a year later. Another FSU player drafted twice, legendary receiver Fred Biletnikoff, actually wore No. 85 before switching to the number he'd eventually have retired. For that reason, we'll go more in-depth on him when we get to that number.

The other Florida State players to have worn 85:

  • Bob Nellums (1957)
  • Herman Brown (1958)
  • Fred Grimes (1959-1961)
  • Dale Twitchell (1963)
  • John Hosack (1964)
  • Pete Roberts (1965)
  • Floyd Ratliff (1967-1968)
  • Karl Passwaters (1972)
  • Dave Porter (1973-1976)
  • Grady King (1977-1979)
  • David Ponder (1980-1983)
  • Phillip Bryant (1984)
  • Johnny Clower (1988-1989)
  • Eric Smith (1990)
  • Talman Gardner (1998)
  • Jesse Stein (2002-2003)
  • Chauncey Stovall (2002)
  • Richard Goodman (2005-2006)
  • Josh Dobbie (2007)
  • Ja'Baris Little (2008-2011)
  • James Rhoden (2012)
  • Jeremy Kerr (2013-present)

So, regarding FSU No. 85s-- who tops your list?