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1 day until FSU football means one last vote: For the best FSU No. 1

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Quite a few candidates for your final decision.

Sam Cowart
Sam Cowart

It seems like just yesterday that I sat down and typed out a piece about the best Florida State football player to wear No. 99. Well here we are, several months and tons of votes later, considering the last jersey in our countdown as we ask ourselves: which ‘Nole No. 1 tops the list?

We begin with the only Seminole to earn Consensus All-American Honors wearing No. 1: linebacker Sam Cowart, who did so in 1997 after rebounding from a knee injury that made him miss the previous season. Cowart was, of course, a first-team All-ACC selection in ’97 as well, and remains ranked 15th, with 338 career tackles as a ‘Nole. Cowart was a second-round choice of the Buffalo Bills in 1998, and made the Pro Bowl in 2000.

But he’s not the only FSU No. 1 to garner All-American honors. The first was wide receiver Andre Cooper, who in 1995 secured an Honorable-Mention All-American nod from both the AP and the Football News. Cooper’s ’95 campaign was truly one for the Seminole record books. His 15 touchdown grabs that year are tied with the 15 of Kelvin Benjamin (another ‘Nole No. 1 whom I’ll discuss later) in 2013 for the most ever at Florida State. Cooper’s 182 receiving yards against Maryland that year are still tied for the 20th most in FSU history, and, on the season, he posted 71 catches, tied for fifth in a single year as a Seminole, and 1,002 yards, 12th as a ‘Nole; he averaged 6.46 receptions per game in 1995, the fifth highest total in a Florida State season.

But Cooper was more than a one-year phenom at FSU, and his career marks hold up quite well also. His 132 catches? Tied for tenth. 1,810 receiving yards? 17th, ahead of Anquan Boldin. His 24 TD snags? Only five ‘Noles have grabbed more. And his nine games with 100+ reception yards are tied for ninth in Florida State history. Cooper was an All-ACC first-teamer in both 1995 and 1996.

The next to nab All-American status wearing the ‘Nole No. 1 was tight end Brandon Warren. Warren made his name early in his time as a Seminole, as he was designated a 2006 Freshman All-American by The Sporting News, a third-team Freshman All-American by Scripps Howard, and earned an Honorable Mention from College Football News.

I’m pretty sure you remember the most recent FSU player to secure All-American honors wearing No. 1. Prior to being a first-round pick of the Carolina Panthers, receiver Kelvin Benjamin earned those accolades in both of his first two seasons playing for the garnet and gold. In 2012, he was an Honorable-Mention Freshman All-American per College Football News.

Of course, Benjamin really made his mark in Tallahassee in 2013, when he helped lead FSU to its third national title. Already mentioned were Benjamin’s record-tying 15 TD grabs that year, but he also registered 1,011 receiving yards in ’13, tied for ninth in ‘Nole history, spearheaded by a 212-yard effort against Florida, the most damage any Florida State WR has ever inflicted upon the Gators. Across his Seminole career, Benjamin wound up with 19 scoring catches, tied for the 11th most at FSU.

Several other ‘Noles have snagged accolades wearing No. 1 as well, beginning with the first Florida State player listed as having worn that jersey. According to FSU Sports Information, kicker Frank Fontes donned No. 1 in 1970 and 1971, and landed first-team All-South Independent honors each year, the same years in which he led the Seminoles in scoring.

Dave Cappelen continued to haul in honors for FSU kickers later in the decade, when he was a second-team All-South Independent choice in both 1978 and 1979, the last two years of four in which he led the team in points produced.

In 2003, WR Craphonso Thorpe was a first-team All-ACC pick, and for good reason. His ’03 receiving yards of 217 against Notre Dame and 205 against Colorado, which rank sixth and tenth in FSU history, respectively, make him the only ‘Nole other than Ron Sellers to go over 200 yards twice in one season. Thorpe totaled 994 reception yards that year, still 14th most as a Seminole, and finished his career with 123 grabs (16th in school history) for 2,153 yards (ninth) and 18 TDs (13th). He was a fourth-round selection of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2005.

But still more FSU 1s were drafted into the NFL: WR Shannon Baker was an eighth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 1993, and DB Mike Harris, whose 89-yard interception return against UF in 2011 is the eighth-longest in program history, was chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012’s sixth round.

The other Florida State players to wear No. 1:

  • Ahmet Askin (1972-1974)
  • Keith Singletary (1975)
  • Rick Taylor (1980)
  • Eric Thomas (1981-1985)
  • Scott DiMare (1986-1988)
  • Reggie Durden (1996, 1998-1999)
  • Jeff Chaney (2000)
  • Jesse Stein (2001)
  • Fred Rouse (2005)
  • Xavier Lee (2007)
  • Corey Surrency (2008)
  • Tyler Hunter (2012-2015)
  • Ermon Lane (2014-present)
  • Levonta Taylor (present)

So which ‘Nole wore the garnet and gold uno the best?