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81 days to FSU football: Which No. 81 was the best at Florida State?

Including some names you'll definitely recall.

Miami v Florida State
Kenny Shaw
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The countdown rolls on with today's discussion of the top players in Seminole history to wear the No. 81. As always, these pieces are primarily focused on the past, and while today's entry goes all the way back to the 1960s, it also includes the very recent history of the No. 81-- and perhaps even the future as well.

Only one No. 81 has ever garnered All-American honors, and that's tight end Ed Beckman, who earned an Honorable Mention nod from the AP in 1976, the same year that we was an All-South Independent first-teamer. He wore 81 from 1972-1976, and was FSU's leading receiver the final year, with 37 catches for 521 yards and three scores. Beckman wasn't the first 'Nole to capture All-South Independent honors, though, as, just before him, 1969 saw fellow tight end No. 81 Jim Tyson secure the same endorsement. Tyson was the Seminoles' leading pass catcher that season, with 49 grabs for 720 yards and four TDs. He wore No. 81 from 1967-1969.

The first Seminole 81 taken in the NFL Draft was WR Kevin Knox, who repped that number from 1989-1993 at FSU. Knox was a sixth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1994 after helping Florida State to its first national title the previous year.

Tight end Melvin Pearsall just missed out on that championship, having worn No. 81 from 1994-1997, but he earned All-ACC honors in two consecutive seasons under Bobby Bowden, as an Honorable Mention in 1996 and a first-team choice the following year. Fan-favorite receiver Kenny Shaw, who sported 81 from 2010-2013, also earned an Honorable Mention All-ACC acknowledgment in FSU's title season of 2013, when he posted 933 receiving yards, the 20th-highest single-season total in program history. Shaw is also 14th in career reception yards at Florida State, with 1,919. He's one half of the pair to last post triple-digit receiving yards in the same contest: Shaw and Rodney Smith accomplished that against Boston College in 2012.

And speaking of mentions, receiver De'Cody Fagg earns one here as well, as he shows up a couple times in the 'Nole record book after wearing No. 81 from 2004-2007. His career catches-per-game mark is 11th in Seminole history, at 3.3 (higher than that of Anquan Boldin, Greg Carr, and Lawrence Dawsey). He was also part of the trio that last each gained 100+ receiving yards in a game, along with Chris Davis and Carr against The Citadel in 2005.

It's also worth noting that receiver P.K. Sam wore No. 81 for his first two years at FSU in 2001 and 2002, although his true accolades came under another number, and he'll be discussed more fully when we get to that point. Furthermore, national champion defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, who's already been debated in my piece detailing the elite No. 90s to play football for FSU, wore No. 81 in his freshman year at Florida State in 2012.

And what of the current Seminole No. 81, tight end Ryan Izzo? Just a redshirt-sophomore with impeccable mechanics, athleticism, and great size, at 6-5, 243, the New Jersey native could very well be in line for all-conference votes-- and maybe more.

The other Florida State players to wear No. 81:

  • Ham Bisbee (1955-1957)
  • Bob Kavanaugh (1958)
  • Bill Tyre (1959)
  • Cecil Dupree (1960)
  • Bill Tinsley (1961)
  • Bob Speir (1961)
  • Don Floyd (1962-1964)
  • H.T. Waller (1965-1966)
  • Jarvis Coursey (1978)
  • Zeke Mowatt (1979-1982)
  • Jim Hendley (1983)
  • David Etheridge (1984)
  • Justin Owen (1984-1985)
  • Scott DiMare (1985)
  • Hoffman Brown (1986)
  • Phil Carollo (1987-1988)
  • Toredo Wall (1993)
  • Nick Franklin (1998-2000)
  • Caz Piurowski (2008-2009)

So-- who tops the list for you?