Date: October 3rd, 1992
Location: Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, FL
Opponent: Miami Hurricanes
You’re probably thinking, “We’re going to revisit Wide Right II for the second time in 3 weeks? I thought this was supposed to be a celebratory series”. Understandable, as we already dove into this painful rivalry game in great detail. Please take solace in knowing this article represents the final play from an FSU loss, and then find beauty among the chaos.
Marvin “Shade Tree” Jones gave Florida State a prolific, unforgettable 3 seasons from 1990 to 1992. The 6’2” 220-lb linebacker from Miami Northwestern arrived in Tallahassee ready to make a difference day 1, and as a true freshman lead the team in tackles with an eye-popping 133 stops. His storied career ended with a Lombardi & Butkus Award parlay in his junior season, and a 4th place finish in Heisman balloting. Jones was drafted 4th overall by the Jets in 1993.
Marvin’s college Youtube highlights are a sight to behold. He played with otherworldly instincts and was around the football seemingly every play. Jones carved through blockers like a hot knife and met the ball carrier like a wrecking ball. In these times bloated with hyperbole, it’s safe to say #55 was the most fearsome FSU linebacker to don the garnet & gold. There’s a couple guys named Brooks and Cowart that may even agree.
Shade Tree’s era(‘90-’92) represents somewhat of a missed opportunity for FSU, as his teams never reached the pinnacle of college football on New Year’s Day. The shortcomings have nothing to do with Jones’ performances, as he played lights out in both Wide Right losses. Early 90’s FSU wasn’t quite ready to match Marvin’s excellence in all 3 phases of the game.
Which brings us to the main event. In a violent game where Miami and Florida State traded haymakers from the opening kickoff to the final drive, Marvin Jones made a timeless tackle that would prove equal parts spectacular and photogenic. Leading 10-7 with 1:24 in the 2nd quarter, Miami QB Gino Torretta(and 1992 Heisman winner) found his tailback Larry Jones slipping over the middle on 2nd and 11. He knew his running back would get hit, but he had no way of knowing how gorgeous that hit would be.
Jones’ tackle was something to be dreamed about in a special effects lab, upending the ball carrier parallel to earth while simultaneously stripping the ball away. The still imagery appears more like a Michelangelo sculpture in Florence rather than a football play in Coral Cables. The image was immortalized on posters and artwork throughout Seminole Nation. Hurricanes head coach Dennis Erickson was quoted in 1992, “Marvin Jones is the best linebacker I’ve ever seen playing college. He’s all over the place. When he was a freshman, he was incredible.”
Marvin recalled the play 23 years later in 2015:
“Well, basically, it was already hot outside, so I was already [mad,]” Jones said of the hit. “But you know what, I always prided myself on reading the offenses and reacting to the ball. When I played, there is no such thing as an ordinary tackle. Every time I tackle, I want it to be the perfect tackle. It didn’t matter, that’s just how I played the game. Don’t put me out there if you don’t want me going 1000 miles an hour. That’s how I played the game. - Orlando Sentinel
The Top 100 list was not manipulated to make #55 Marvin Jones the 55th play. Things just work out beautifully sometimes.
Now it’s time to enjoy 54 straight victories before the opening kickoff on September 3rd.