We continue our top 100 countdown with another Seminole that wore no. 44, but on the offensive side of the ball. Checking in at no. 99, running back Larry Key.
Key was an impact player from the moment he stepped foot on campus, excelling not only as a rusher, but as a dynamic pass-catcher and kick-returner throughout his four year college career.
Beloved by fans, whenever Key would make a big play or the ’Noles needed to covert a big third down, Doak Campbell Stadium would erupt with the sound of car keys jingling. The Florida State faithful knew that good things happened when 44 had the ball.
Key played a large role in changing FSU as a program. When he arrived, FSU was not a good football team. In his first year they finished an abysmal 1-10. Key’s stats and playmaking ability grew year-by-year until his senior campaign when he helped lead the ’Noles to their first 10-win season. Not only was this a milestone of it’s own, but it proved vital to Bobby Bowden’s success in making FSU a powerhouse, helping recruit players that would make up the dominant teams of ‘79 and ‘80.
1977 would be the peak of Key’s career as the senior captain lead the country in all purpose yards and became the first player in program history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark, sprinting for 1,117 yards. This culminated in an AP All-American honorable mention for Key.
Adding to the lore of that season, FSU snapped a 9-year losing streak to the Gators, dominating them in the Swamp 37-9. Key tallied 185 all-purpose yards (143 rushing, 42 kick-return) in that game.
In his final appearance in the garnet and gold, Key went off for 314 all purpose yards (83 rushing, 100 receiving, and 131 kick-return yards, including a TD) as FSU dismantled Texas Tech 40-17 in the Tangerine Bowl. I’d say that’s the cherry on top of a fantastic college career.
Key was inducted into the FSU Football Hall of Fame in 1984 and remains FSU’s 5th leading rusher and is 7th overall in scrimmage yards.
Key is, without a doubt, one of the most electric players to come through Tallahassee and could easily be higher on the list depending on who you ask. So, what do you think? Should Key be ranked higher? Lower? Or is his ranking just right?