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The top 100 FSU football players: No. 91— safety Keith Jones

A cornerstone of Bobby Bowden’s legendary 1977 recruiting class

FSU Sports Information

Bobby Bowden’s return to Tallahassee in 1976 produced immediate improvement on the field, with the Seminoles winning more games in his first season (five) than they had in the previous three seasons combined. However, his prowess on the recruiting trail didn’t begin to shine until the early months of 1977. With his southern charm and obvious coaching acumen, Bowden’s 1977 class has become known as the one that laid the foundation for FSU’s rise to the mountain top of college football.

One member, Bobby Butler, of the 1977 class has already made an appearance (lower than many long-time Seminole supporters could believe) on this top 100 countdown, and you can best believe there will be quite a few more players from that class still to come. Today, it’s time for one of Butler’s mates in the defensive backfield, Keith Jones to get his due.

Jones was a two-way star at Wildwood High School, in central Florida, and carried scholarship offers from Alabama, Georgia Tech, and the University of Florida. Each of those schools wanted him to play quarterback—after all, he was a two-time first team all-state signal caller. But Jones had other ideas. Preferring to be the one delivering blows instead of taking them, Jones wanted to play defensive back in college. That was just fine with Coach Bowden and one of his legendary assistants, Jim Gladden.

After not seeing action in FSU’s breakout 1977 campaign, Jones debuted as the starter at strong safety at the open of the 1978 season. Opponents going across the middle would feel his wrath for the next three years. As our own “K-Man” eloquently stated last year during Tomahawk Nation’s countdown of the top 100 plays in FSU history, “Jones arrived at the football with cruel intentions to knock you out cold.” (In case you were looking for a summer refresher, Jones’ 4th quarter interception against UF in 1980 checked in at number 59).

Over his three years roaming the Seminole secondary, Jones racked up 12 interceptions, one more than his recruiting classmate Butler. During those three seasons, FSU had a remarkable 29-6 record, including 5-1 against UF and Miami. And while they lost both games, Jones’ teams also became the first ‘Noles to play in a major bowl game when they faced off against the mighty Oklahoma Sooners after the 1979 and 1980 seasons. Listen to Jones talk about those games and what it meant for the program here:

Jones was—and remains—every bit as successful off the field as he was on, earning Academic All-American distinctions in 1979 and 1980 before graduating magna cum laude. Of course, most Seminole fans still recognize Jones’ voice today from his work as the color commentator for FSU football and basketball games. In fact, Jones won an Emmy for college football broadcasting in 2002.

Keith Jones, a true Seminole legend.