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4 days to FSU football: Is Dalvin Cook already the top No. 4 in Seminole history?

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Cook has a claim but other contenders could put up a fight.

Dalvin Cook

4 days. Just over half a week. Football really is almost here again.

To tide the famished football fans over, today’s countdown piece features the offensive superstar of this year’s Florida State team: running back Dalvin Cook.

Cook, who was committed separately to Clemson and Florida before settling on FSU, arrived on campus in 2014 behind a multitude of more experienced backs highlighted by senior RB Karlos Williams. Still, Cook’s talent could not be kept off the field and, in his first season, Cook racked up 1,008 rushing yards, making him the first true freshman to surpass 1,000 yards on the ground in program history. Cook’s early accomplishments did not go unnoticed as he was named to four Freshman All-America teams, two as an honorable mention in addition to a second-team spot from Athlon and a first-team nod from Sporting News. Additionally, Cook was named a second-team All-ACC running back for his impressive freshman campaign.

However, as you all know by now, Cook did not rest on his laurels entering his second year with the team.

In a sophomore season for the ages, Cook ran for 1,691 yards, destroying Warrick Dunn’s previous single-season school rushing record by almost 450 yards, and 19 touchdowns, one short of tying Greg Allen’s school record set in 1982. For his spectacular season, Cook was honored on six All-America teams, the first teams of Sports Illustrated and the Football Writers of America Association as well as second-team nods from Walter Camp, CBS Sports, Sporting News, and the Associated Press. Cook also broke on to the All-ACC first team, finished seventh in Heisman voting, and was the first Seminole to receive the Jim Brown Award, given to the nation’s best running back by the Touchdown Club of Columbus.

Cook, who already has an argument to be the best running back in Florida State history, has the chance to cement his spot in 2016. He needs 1,260 yards to become the Florida State rushing yards leader and 18 touchdowns to take over that category. Cook also has two of the top five rushing performances in a single game in program history (266 yards against USF in 2015 is No. 2 on the list and 222 yards against Miami last year is No. 5). He additionally has the third-longest run in program history, 94 yards against Wake Forest in 2015. Although Cook has not yet been drafted into the NFL, he seems poised to be a relatively high draft pick, especially among running backs.

Although Cook’s stake to the title of FSU’s top No. 4 is a strong one, there are a few other contenders who also have arguments. Peter Tom Willis was a five-year quarterback at Florida State who sported the 4 for his entire collegiate career. Willis started only 13 games over his time as a signal caller at FSU but he made the most of his starts, throwing for 300 or more yards in 7 of those starts. To this day, he has two of the most productive games by a QB in program history, totaling 482 yards through the air against Memphis State, fifth-most in a single game in school history, before throwing for 422 yards in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl against Nebraska, 14th-most in a game in FSU history, in his final game as a Seminole.

Willis’ accomplishments resulted in honorable mentions on Sporting News and UPI’s All-America teams and a first-team nod on the All-South Independents team. After his time at Florida State, Willis was a third round selection, 63rd overall, in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Willis spent time in both the NFL and Arena Football League before returning to Tallahassee, where he served as the color commentator for FSU’s radio broadcasts from 1998, the same year he was inducted into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame, until 2008.

Another No. 4 of note is another skill position player, this time a wide receiver from the 1980s, Jessie Hester. Hester, who donned the 4 from 1981-1984 at FSU, was a two-time all-conference player, earning second-team All-South Independents honors in 1982 and cracking onto the first team in his senior season, 1984. He also notched honorable mentions from the AP and Football News’ All-America teams in his final year at Florida State. Hester, who has the 11th-most receiving yards in program history with 2,100, was then drafted 23rd overall in the first round of the 1985 NFL Draft.

The list of notable No. 4s at Florida State is far from done, however, as many other ‘Noles were honored while they wore the 4 at FSU. Wideout Anquan Boldin sported the No. 4 at FSU from 2000-2002 and was a second-team All-ACC player in his final year at Florida State before he was taken 54th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft and went on to have a successful (and still ongoing) professional career which has seen him named the 2003 Offensive Rookie of the Year and a three-time Pro Bowler. Additionally, Corey Fuller was a first-team All-ACC defensive back in 1994 and was then taken in the second round, 55th overall, of the 1995 NFL Draft and went on to play in 152 games over the course of his ten-year professional career.

Finally, a pair of Seminoles switched over to the 4 in their final years at FSU before they were drafted into the NFL. Running back Chris Thompson donned the No. 4 in 2012 when he was named a second-team All-ACC player ahead of being drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft and wide receiver P.K. Sam took over the 4 in his final season, 2003, before he was a fifth-round selection in the 2005 edition of the draft.

The other Seminoles to wear No. 4 are:

  • Chris Gerbasi (1980)
  • Chris Weinke (1990)
  • Marquette Smith (1991)
  • Robert Hammond (1994)
  • Troy Sanders (1995-1998)
  • Chris Hope (1998)
  • Kenny O’Neal (2005)
  • Mikhal Kornegay (2006)
  • Tony Carter (2007-2008)
  • Terrance Parks (2009-2011)
  • Brandon Jenkins (2012)
  • Giorgio Newberry (2013-2015)