Casey Weldon was a homegrown product, playing high school right in Tallahassee’s backyard at North Florida Christian. He committed to the hometown ’Noles and redshirted his freshman season in 1987.
Despite being destined to do big things, Weldon bided his time, playing only sparingly in mop-up duty in 1988 and ‘89 behind Chip Ferguson and Peter Tom Willis.
But as a redshirt junior in 1990, Weldon finally got his chance late in a mid-season loss to the Miami Hurricanes. After starting quarterback Brad Johnson fumbled a snap late in the fourth quarter with FSU trailing 31-16, head coach Bobby Bowden called Weldon’s number. Weldon promptly went six for eleven for 67 yards and a touchdown. The following week the Seminoles faced off against an undefeated Auburn team. Johnson again got the start, but after an early first-quarter interception Bowden again called on Weldon. Weldon would go 20 for 30 for 244 yards and a touchdown, but FSU fell just short to the Tigers, 20-17.
However, Bowden had liked what he had seen from the young quarterback, and Weldon started every game the rest of the season over the future Super Bowl winning Johnson. And FSU didn’t lose another game, finishing the regular season on a five-game winning streak, including thrashing the Florida Gators with 325 yards passing. Weldon got that started with a haymaker that made our top 100 plays countdown last season:
Then for good measure Weldon helped cap that with a 24-17 win in the bowl game against Penn State, finishing the season with 1,600 yards passing and twelve touchdowns.
When the 1991 season rolled around Weldon was firmly entrenched as the starter, and he did not disappoint. FSU was the No. 1 ranked team in the country, and they started a red hot 10-0. Weldon was often brilliant during that stretch, throwing for 250 or more yards five times and throwing three touchdowns four times. Weldon was right in the thick of the Heisman Trophy race.
Unfortunately, not even Weldon was able to overcome the forces of fate. Injuries piled up, and Florida State lost to the rival Hurricanes 16-17 in what is now colloquially known as Wide Right I. The ’Noles dropped their next game too, the regular season finale against the hated rival Gators. Those were the only games Weldon lost as a starting quarterback. Still, Weldon had some fireworks up his sleeves, with a little help from his friends.
Weldon and company rebounded, beating Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day and securing another top-five finish. Despite the heartbreaking losses, the 1991 season is remembered as one of the best in school history, with some arguing it held one of the best performances by any Florida State team.
Weldon finished his 1991 season with 2,527 passing yards and 22 touchdowns. For his efforts, Weldon was bestowed with the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the nation’s best quarterback. He came up just short in the Heisman race, placing as the runner up behind Desmond Howard of Michigan. He was also named a first team All-American by Walter Camp and Football News, and a second team All-American by the Associated Press and Sporting News.
He finished his Seminole career with 4,628 yards on 545 attempts, and his 41 touchdown passes were the second-most in school history. His 4,643 career yards of total offense were also at the time the second-most in school history. He also ranked in the top four in several other statistical categories. He is remembered not only for the quality of his play, but for leading thrilling wins against Florida, Penn State, LSU, and Michigan.
Weldon was drafted with the 102nd overall pick in the fourth round of the 1992 NFL Draft. He had a long career in the NFL, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Washington Redskins. He was inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1999 while playing for Washington. He also briefly played in the World League in Europe for the Barcelona Dragons. He finished his career in 2001 with the XFL Birmingham Thunderbolts. Weldon returned to Tallahassee to coach high school football.