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The top 100 FSU football players: No. 63— linebacker Ernie Sims

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A hometown hero.

ACC Football Championship Game Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Tallahassee native Ernie Sims was an absolute unit:

The No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2003 according to Rivals.com, Sims chose Florida State over Florida, Miami, Georgia, Auburn, and well, everyone else.

Sims came to Florida State for one reason: to kick ass and win rings. The time that Sims gave to FSU may have later been labeled as part of the “Lost Decade”, but that didn’t stop him from excelling on the football field or delivering a tremendous amount of punishment to opposing skill players. As a true freshman Sims, wearing Ron Sellers’ #34, didn’t take long to break out. In just his fifth game against Duke he had eight tackles. A few weeks later he took 10 tackles and the ACC Rookie of the Week award on his way to 42 total tackles that season.

In 2004 Sims took a starting linebacker spot by Week 2 and terrorized ACC offenses the rest of the year on his way to 86 tackles — just two off the team lead — including 9.5 for loss and four sacks, two forced fumbles, and five passes defensed. He blocked a punt vs. Virginia and had a whopping 12 tackles just against the Florida Gators. He also had double-digit tackles against North Carolina and Duke. He was named a first-team All-American by ESPN and College Football News, but somehow just second-team All-ACC.

Sims was named a pre-season All-American by multiple outlets before the 2005 season. He opened that year by collecting seven tackles and an interception against Miami in a 10-7 win — FSU’s first against the Hurricanes since 1999.

Later that season Sims helped hold Maryland star tight end Vernon Davis to just 54 yards. Sims finished his Seminole career with 200 tackles, 95 of them solo with 21 for a loss and seven sacks, 19 quarterback hurries and 11 passes defensed. He elected to leave early for the NFL and was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 9th overall pick in the 2006 Draft. Sims finished his rookie year with 124 tackles and collected several All-Rookie Team nods by outlets such as Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers Association. He ultimately played seven productive seasons in the NFL, dishing out over 600 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson once called Sims his least favorite player to go up against, describing him as like “the Tasmanian Devil”.

After football, Sims started the Big Hits Foundation to mentor youth, and then re-enrolled at Florida State, earning his degree last year. He now believes the real reason he went to FSU was to get a degree and uses that in his mentorship. Sims has since joined FAU under Lane Kiffin as an assistant strength and conditioning coach and was recently promoted to the Owls’ Director of Football Operations.

An absolute legend: