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The top 100 FSU football players: No. 54— wide receiver Anquan Boldin

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A former Florida Mr. Football, Pahokee’s own made his name known in Tallahassee before a lengthy, successful NFL career

Georgia v Florida State Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The kid flicked one pass completion 60 yards on the fly, and from his end zone, to top a list of spectacular individual efforts. By halftime the Blue Devils were up 20-0 and Boldin had scored a couple of touchdowns and saved a couple more. He passed for another score in the second half, fancy trimming on a 34-14 Pahokee victory that broke the Raiders’ Muck luck for the first time since 1990.

He’s the most dominating player to come out of Pahokee since NFL all-pro Rickey Jackson, and if some college coach turns him into a cornerback, there should be an NCAA violation in it.

Pahokee takes turn in muck; after a few tense moments, Boldin has the needed pluck, Palm Beach Post

Anquan Boldin, Florida’s Mr. Football in 1999, came to Tallahassee as one of the top-rated passers (and overall recruits) in the country following a senior season that saw him accumulate 2,842 yards and 36 touchdowns, along with 1,497 rushing yards, 20 rushing scores and four interceptions.

He had been promised by Bobby Bowden during his recruitment that he would be able to play quarterback, but after getting on campus and realizing his best chance at playing immediately would be by switching positions, he went to Bowden’s office and requested the change.

The move paid off: not in a huge way (with Boldin only catching 12 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns in 1999 in addition to 55 kick return yards), but enough for the true freshman to get on the field in eight games for the eventual national champions.

In his sophomore season, Boldin began to find his groove, tripling his touchdown total and putting up two 100-yard games en route to a season total 660 yards, though he only registered 33 yards in the national championship game vs. Oklahoma.

Graduations, academic ineligibility and a series of other unfortunate quarterback events led to a single quarterback, redshirt freshman Chris Rix, on FSU’s depth chart heading into the 2001 season, giving way to a legitimate path for Boldin to have been FSU’s starter.

Alas, Boldin tore his ACL before the season started, missing the entire year.

His junior season was a revenge tour, putting up 1011 yards and 13 touchdowns on 65 catches, and ended the way that his Florida State career began: under center.

After Chris Rix was suspended for missing an exam and Fabian Walker, well, didn’t do too hot (throwing two interceptions in the first half, one being a pick six), Boldin was called in to throw live-action passes for only the second time since graduating high school.

It almost paid off immediately.

Boldin, who also caught a score, would still throw a touchdown later in the game, a 40-yard bomb to Craphonso Thorpe that still meant little in a 26-13 losing effort.

He’d decide to skip his senior season and enter the draft, a move that proved to turn wise but also provided another, “what-if?”

“When he came in to talk about playing that last season (2003),” Bowden said in 2017, “I told him if he stayed I was going to move him back to quarterback. I told him I thought he could win the Heisman.”

“I thought he could be like Charlie Ward.”

Drafted in the second round by the Arizona Cardinals, Boldin would go on to win AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, a prelude to an illustrious career that saw him play in two Super Bowls and win one with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, placing him amongst the 11 Seminoles that have won championships in both college and the NFL.

“Going back through the highlights of Boldin’s four-game stretch (380 yards, four touchdowns) that [2012] postseason is the equivalent of taking his career and injecting it straight into your jugular,” wrote Robert Mays of The Ringer. “Every catch is contested, but that’s how it always was. What happened on the field around him never made a difference. With every extension, every collision, and, eventually, every reception, Boldin seemed to say, “Nah, this is mine.” And a few times, such as when he stood over Patriots safety Devin McCourty in the end zone during the 2012 AFC championship game or barked at 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver after a sideline catch in Super Bowl XLVII, he might have actually said it.”

If you asked him, though, his greatest accomplishment might have been being named Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2015, following years of community service through the Anquan Boldin Foundation, which aims to expand the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged children through summer enrichment programs, food drives, holiday shopping sprees and academic scholarships.

He’s added advocacy work to his service portfolio, helping co-found the Player’s Coalition in the aftermath of Colin Kaepernick’s protests to help spread the movement’s message.

“Just because we’re athletes doesn’t mean that we’re not affected by the laws of the land,” he said to NPR in 2018. “It doesn’t mean that our family members aren’t affected by what’s going on.

“There’s a lot of people who try to deny what’s really going on in our society...there is a specific group of people in our country that’s not treated fairly. And my heart would be for everybody to see that and for everybody to work together and come up with solutions to try to rectify that problem.”

Recently, he spoke to last year’s Florida State team to encourage the them to be active citizens, a message that resonated with sophomore Jaiden Lars-Woodbey.

“I can see myself in (Boldin’s) shoes in 15 or 20 years,” Woodbey said. “Having my own organization, having all these amazing goals that I want to achieve. And just, by my voice, I can start it off.”

Through his Florida State years, NFL career, community service and advocacy work, Anquan Boldin, a great football player and better man, created a legacy that transcends simply catching touchdowns.