clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

51 days to FSU football: Who is Florida State's top No. 51?

A trio of ‘Noles have viable arguments.

ACC Championship - Duke v Florida State Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Just before the halfway point of our countdown of the best Florida State players to wear each number, we reach an intriguing entry: No. 51. 51 presents itself as such because although the seemingly obvious front runners are the two ‘Noles who accrued All-American honors while sporting No. 51, one of FSU’s all-time defensive statistical leaders who went widely unrecognized throughout his career also donned the 51, creating what should be a tight decision in the poll below.

Kevin Long, a center for FSU from 1993 to 1997, was the first player to earn an All-American nod while wearing No. 51 in school history. Long’s performance in his final year at Florida State was rewarded with third-team All-America honors from Football News and the Associated Press in addition to his two honorable mentions to the All-ACC team in 1996 and 1997. Long was drafted by the Tennessee Oilers in the 7th round of the 1998 NFL Draft, putting a nice ending on his collegiate career with the Seminoles.

Younger Florida State fans may be more inclined towards Bobby Hart, who sported No. 51 from 2011-2014. Hart was an unusual case entering FSU as he didn’t turn 17 until he was nearly finished with his first fall camp in Tallahassee. However, Hart didn’t let his age stop him from contributing early as he saw snaps on the offensive line in his true freshman season and was a regular contributor on the front for his final three seasons with the ‘Noles. Hart was recognized on College Football News’ Freshman All-America second team in his first year at Florida State and later added an All-ACC honorable mention as a major player on FSU’s national championship squad in 2013 and a second-team All-ACC honor in his senior season, 2014. Hart capped off his Florida State career by being taken as the highest-drafted No. 51 in school history, going 226th overall to the New York Giants as a part of FSU’s monster 2015 draft class.

Although those two undeniably led impressive careers at Florida State that warrant consideration in the conversation, there’s a third contender who cannot be ignored: linebacker Aaron Carter. Carter’s name may not be one that you remember instantly. His career at Florida State (1974-1977) began in the pre-Bowden era, before the Seminoles were nationally relevant. His awards list from his time at FSU is brief, only containing an All-South Independents honorable mention in 1975. That being said, his stats must be acknowledged. After all, Carter is Florida State’s record holder for most career tackles (512) and for the most tackles in a single season (181) in program history. Carter was a part of FSU’s program during a developmental time which saw the ‘Noles go from 1-10 in his freshman season to 10-2 in his senior campaign, Bowden’s second year with the school, and, although his career didn’t proceed into the NFL as Long’s and Hart’s did, Carter is the sole No. 51 who has been inducted into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame.

Yet another notable No. 51 at Florida State was center Robbie Baker, who was a key cog of the FSU offensive line from 1988-1992. Baker finished his career with the Seminoles on a high note, notching a second-team All-ACC honor in Florida State’s first year as a member of the conference.

No Seminole has worn No. 51 since defensive lineman Giorgio Newberry did in 2012, his redshirt freshman season. That drought will be snapped this season, however, as freshman linebacker Josh Brown, who enrolled at FSU in January, will be sporting the 51 in the 2016 season.

The other Seminoles who have donned No. 51 are:

  • Norman Eubanks (1948-1949)
  • Don Powell (1954)
  • Hobo Ackerman (1955)
  • Melvin Pope (1956)
  • Ramon Rogers (1957)
  • Bo Davis (1958)
  • Jim Worthington (1959)
  • Larry Hood (1960-1961)
  • Y.C. McNease (1961)
  • Joe Avezzano (1963-1965)
  • John Richardson (1966)
  • Billy Hughes (1968-1969)
  • Bobby Howell (1969-1970)
  • Mitch Skinner (1972)
  • Rick Blythe (1973)
  • James Gilbert (1978-1981)
  • Richard Cullifer (1982-1984)
  • Marty Riggs (1985-1987)
  • Mike Goodman (1987)
  • David Whittington (1988)
  • Ronald Boldin (1998-2001)
  • Buster Davis (2002-2003)
  • Chris Turner (2002)
  • Lee Weaver (2002)
  • Jae Thaxton (2004-2005)
  • Aaron Gresham (2009)