Anytime you have the opportunity to pluck a player out of your rivals’ backyard, you jump at it. Having that player turn into an all-time great for your program? It doesn’t get much sweeter. That’s exactly what the Seminoles got when Aaron Carter headed to Tallahassee by way of Gainesville in 1974.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows at first. FSU won just four games over the course of Carter’s first two seasons, but the rising star was a bright spot on the defense, playing everything from safety to defensive end.
Things changed during Carter’s junior year when first-year head coach Bobby Bowden inserted Carter as a starting linebacker. At barely 5’9” 185 pounds, Carter was undersized for the position, but the experiment paid off and so began the turnaround of FSU’s program.
After winning just four games in his first two years, the ’Noles would go 5-6 in Carter’s third year, gaining momentum for the historic, 10-win, 1977 season.
Carter’s senior year would go down as one of the greatest individual seasons in program history, leading a defense that forced nine teams into scoring 17 or fewer points and smothering opposing offenses with a record-setting 181 tackles, a record that stands to this day.
Carter would finish his career in garnet and gold as the programs all-time leading tackler with 512 tackles, another record that still stands. Elected into the FSU Hall of Fame in 2014, he has etched his story into Florida State history and his spot on this list is well-deserved.