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17 days to FSU football: All-time great leads top ‘Noles to wear No. 17

Another Charlie Ward blowout?

Clemson Tigers v Florida State Seminoles
Charlie Ward

Look. Bill Capece had a nice career at Florida State. In 1980, he made all 42 of his point-after attempts and hit five field goals against Pittsburgh, the latter of which being an FSU record for which he’s still tied. He was named a first-team All-South Independent selection, and was a 12th-round draftee of the Houston Oilers the following year.

But this is Charlie Ward’s party. So a bit of a process note to illustrate Ward’s prolific career as a ‘Nole: in preparing for this countdown, I put together a spreadsheet, with different columns chronicling each player’s accomplishments. There’s a column for details about winning a Heisman. Another for having one’s number retired. And so on. Charlie Ward is the only player on the entire sheet with every column checked, save one— his draft status. And of course, that’s just because Ward opted for the NBA over the NFL, where he enjoyed a lengthy and successful career.

Every other box is checked. Heisman. College Football Hall of Fame. FSU Football Hall of Fame. Retired number. Davey O’Brien Award Winner. Johnny Unitas Award Winner. Maxwell Award Winner. Consensus All-American. All-ACC. National Champion. And I’m not sure how you’d go about fact-checking this, as college football awards seem infinite, but the Florida State media guide lists Ward as "the most decorated player in college football history." I can’t corroborate that; but I’m also not denying it.

How’d he do it? Ward’s longest scoring strike was an 86-yarder to Tamarick Vanover against Virginia in the Seminoles’ title season of 1993, still tied for the ninth longest at FSU. The former still owns two of the top-20 passing yardage games in program history as well: his 395 against Maryland in 1992 ties for 19th, and his unforgettable 446 at Florida in ‘93 comes in eighth. His 38 completions in that game still register third for the ‘Noles, while his 31 at Notre Dame in ‘93 are tied for 12th.

Ward’s 1993 pops up frequently in the Florida State record book. During that magical FSU season, Ward completed 264 passes, the fourth most in ‘Nole history, for 3,032 yards (10th), and 27 TDs (fourth). He was a consensus All-American and first-team All-ACC selection.

And while Ward’s championship year of ‘93 will never fade from Seminole fans’ memories, his ‘92 was far from forgettable. 204 completions (15th at Florida State), 2,647 yards (18th), and 22 touchdown tosses (tied for 14th). And 1992 also remains the most prolific rushing season for any FSU QB, ever, as Ward posted 504 yards and six scores. In his prelude to ‘93, he was a second-team All-American for The Sporting News, a third-teamer per the AP, and earned Honorable Mentions from the UPI and Scripps Howard.

How do Ward’s career marks hold up at Florida State, all these years later? His 472 completions: eighth. 5,747 passing yards: 10th. And 49 TD passes: sixth. Six 300+ yard passing games: ninth. And let’s not shortchange Ward, either— he excelled in the classroom as well, as an ACC All-Academic honoree in both 1992 and 1993.

The other FSU players to wear No. 17:

  • Dick Whittington (1954)
  • Marty Kolbus (1965-1966)
  • Mike Page (1968)
  • Jackie Speer (1969)
  • Gary Loucks (1972)
  • Ron Coppess (1973-1974)
  • Wally Woodham (1975)
  • Bruce Shoemaker (1981-1982)
  • J.P Connelly (1983)
  • Eric Williams (1983-1987)
  • Eric Mangham (1983)
  • Ben Thompson (1984)
  • Tim Corlew (1988)

Let’s make it official: