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50 days to FSU football: Florida State’s top No. 50 is a clear choice

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The No. 50 was retired in 1988 for a Florida State legend.

Ron Simmons
Courtesy: Miami Herald

Today marks the halfway point of our countdown of the greatest Seminoles to wear each number as 50 days remain until Florida State’s 2016 season opener against Ole Miss in Orlando.

It’s incredibly fitting that at the halfway point of the countdown,we have a legendary Seminole who wore No. 50 for his entire career and has since had the number retired, the second retired number to this point in the countdown.

Defensive tackle Ron Simmons arrived at FSU as the first true recruiting gem of head coach Bobby Bowden’s still-young career, coming to Florida State in 1977, Bowden’s second year with the school. Simmons’ impact was felt incredibly early in his collegiate career as he accumulated 12 sacks in his freshman season, the highest total in a season of his career and tied for eighth-most in a season in Florida State history. From there, Simmons’ output only amplified further and his career accomplishments are still very evident in the FSU record books. Among other records, Simmons’ five sacks against North Texas State on October 29th of 1977 is still tied for the most sacks in a single game in school history. He also remains on Florida State’s career tackles (482, 2nd in FSU history) sacks (25, 3rd in program history) and tackles for loss (44, tied for 3rd in school history) lists. However, Simmons’ biggest aspect of his game has not yet been mentioned: his ability to force fumbles. Simmons finished his Florida State career with 17 forced fumbles, 13 of which came in his freshman campaign, both of which are still the top marks in school history to this day.

Now it’s worth noting that Simmons’ career accomplishments did not go without recognition. He was a consensus All-American in 1979 and 1980, the first two-time consensus All-American in program history, and was a three-time All-South Independents honoree. In fact, Simmons even broke into the top ten of the Heisman voting, finishing ninth in voting for the 1979 Heisman Trophy. The honors did not stop after Simmons’ playing career finished as he was inducted into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986, was the first defender to have his number retired at FSU in 1988, and was Florida State’s fifth inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. Simmons was the 160th pick in the 1981 NFL Draft but he is more well known for his professional wrestling career which he capped off when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.

Although none of their careers come close to matching up with Simmons’, there are a few more notable No. 50s. Linebacker Dale McCullers was a first-team All-South Independents honoree as well as a first-team All-American according to the Newspaper Enterprises Association and a member of the Associated Press’ third team in 1968 before he was taken in the 12th round of the 1969 NFL Draft.

Two more Seminoles earned all-conference honors while donning No. 50. Dan Whitehurst, a defensive lineman at FSU from 1969-1972, earned an honorable mention on the All-South Independents team in 1971 and offensive tackle John Brown wore No. 50 from 1986 to 1989, capping off his collegiate career with a first-team All-South Independents nod in 1989. Due to the No. 50 being retired in 1988, Brown would be the final player to wear the 50 at Florida State.

The other Seminoles to wear No. 50 are:

  • W.A. Kendrick (1948-1949)
  • Lee Boswell (1954)
  • Bob Crenshaw (1955)
  • Bo Davis (1956)
  • Paul Slaton (1957)
  • Ken Kestner (1958)
  • Bruce Darsey (1960)
  • Charlie Keneipp (1961)
  • Billy Joe Janes (1966)
  • Tom Cooper (1972)
  • Bill Sawyer (1973-1976)
  • J.D. Dowell (1981)
  • Ron Moore (1982)
  • Don Desenso (1984-1985)
  • John Sellers (1985)