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29 days to FSU football: Several All-Americans dominate top No. 29 debate

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An underrated, diverse number at FSU...

Tommy Polley #29
Tommy Polley

Welcome to the 20s: an illustrious set of 10 Florida State uniform numbers that are the first in our countdown to have at least one All-American in every single jersey.

The players who’ve captured those honors represent both the past and present of Seminole football. And that makes Lawrence Dawsey the perfect person to start our discussion as to the top ‘Nole to wear No. 29. Because while most know Dawsey as the current FSU receivers coach, he was a prolific pass catcher for the garnet and gold during his playing days.

Dawsey’s assault on the Florida State record books commenced in 1988, when he tallied nine touchdown catches, which is still tied for the 15th most in a Seminole season. But the accolades began pouring in a year later, in 1989, the first of two years in which Dawsey would lead FSU in receiving. That season, he secured an Honorable Mention All-American nod from The Sporting News and was a first-team All-South Independent selection.

But 1990 was Dawsey’s banner year in Tallahassee. Bolstered by his 13 catches against Miami (still knotted for the Seminoles’ fifth most in a lone game), he posted 65 grabs in ‘90, tied for ninth most in an FSU season. His 5.91 grabs per game that year (eighth most in a ‘Nole season) helped him amass 999 yards through the air, the 13th best season at Florida State. Dawsey’s performance in 1990 earned him first-team All-American honors from the AP and the FWAA, second-team selections from the UPI and The Sporting News, and a third-team nod via Football News. He repeated his first-team All-ACC performance from the previous year.

Dawsey’s mark on FSU still stands: his 128 catches are tied for 13th in a career at Florida State, his overall RPG average of 2.91 is 18th, and his 2,129 receiving yards and 20 scoring catches place him 10th in school history in each category. In 1991, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted him in the third round, and he was a consensus NFL All-Rookie selection that year.

But Dawsey isn’t the only ‘Nole 29 to wrangle first team All-American hours; he’s joined there by special teams player Michael Ray Garvin, who was a first-teamer according to The Sporting News in 2008, the same year he earned third-team mentions from Scout.com and CNNSI.com. He was also a second-team All-ACC choice. Garvin had been Florida State’s all-time leading kick return yardage leader until 2015, when he was passed by Kermit Whitfield. Still, his 1,721 return yards are a very respectable second.

Linebacker Tommy Polley adds to the varied position players to have earned honors in the FSU No. 29. A first-team All-ACC awardee in both 1999 and 2000, Polley was a third-team All-American for both The Sporting News and Football News in the latter year. In 2001, the St. Louis Rams made him a second-round draft pick. He responded by earning consensus NFL All-Rookie honors and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The FSU 29 has also been well represented by punter Sean Liss, who was a 1995 AP Honorable Mention All-American and a second-team All-ACC player. He backed that up with an All-ACC Honorable Mention in ‘96.

20 years later, the ‘Nole 29 is still going strong. Defensive back Nate Andrews, now a senior, drew his own national notoriety in just his first year as a Seminole. Andrews earned College Football News second-team Freshman All-American honors in Florida State’s 2013 title season, as well as a third-team Freshman All-American nod from Athlon Sports. He was also a third-team All-ACC player and an ACC All-Academic selection that year.

And don’t forget running back Sam Platt, whose 1980 earned him a spot on the second-team All-South Independent squad. In that season, he parlayed his 188 rushing yards against Memphis State (the 17th most in a game at FSU) into 983 on the year, the No. 12 rushing season among ‘Noles. Platt finished with six 100+ yard rushing games as a Seminole; only 13 players have more.

The other Florida State 29s:

  • Ted Martin (1948)
  • Gene Cox (1954)
  • Carmen Battaglia (1955-1957)
  • Ron Hinson (1959)
  • Tom Hillabrand (1960-1962)
  • Joe Petko (1963-1965)
  • John Hurst (1966)
  • Benny Rust (1969)
  • Dano Fiore (1970-1971)
  • Fred Miller (1973-1975)
  • Ernie Washington (1977)
  • Michael Whigham (1981)
  • Brian Harlow (1983)
  • Stan Shiver (1984)
  • Barry Ward (1984)
  • Bill Richardson (1985)
  • Phillip Riley (1991)
  • Farrell Spensor (1993)
  • Shevin Smith (1994)
  • Bill Gramatica (1996)
  • Willie Jones (2001-2003)
  • P.J. Selvidio (2002)
  • Kendall Smith (2009-2010)
  • Eric Beverly (2011)
  • Dillon Kidd (2011-2012)

Tally your vote below: