It’s not often that you get to type these words: four-time All-American. But welcome to the latest installment in our series counting down to the beginning of 2019 Florida State football via the greatest Seminole gridders. It’s Pat Tomberlin day.
Successful football teams are built in the trenches. And in the case of today’s countdown entry, so is a dynasty that will likely never be equalled in college football history. In 1985, Pat Tomberlin enrolled at Florida State out of Middleburg, Florida. That’s a pull from Clay County, just outside of Alachua County and UF.
Tomberlin didn’t waste any time making his presence felt in Tallahassee. In his freshman season of 1985, he needed just a few games to gain a starting guard position, and he didn’t disappoint, securing AP All-America honorable-mention recognition and an All-South Independent second-team nod.
The following year, Tomberlin earned the same honor from the AP, while also garnering a Football News sophomore second-team All-America selection. He also improved his All-South Independent status to that of a first-teamer, where he remained for the rest of his Seminole career.
In 1987, Tomberlin moved outside to tackle, and improved to an AP third-team All-American. He continued to improve in his senior season, as he was named a first-team All-American by Walter Camp and a second-team choice per the AP, UPI, Football News, Kodak, and The Sporting News.
And as went Tomberlin, so went the ’Noles. In ’87 and ’88, FSU went a combined 22-2, finishing second and third in the AP Poll, respectively— the best finishes in program history to that point. And so began Florida State’s run of 14 straight top-five finishes.
Tomberlin was a fourth-round choice of the Indianapolis Colts in the 1989 NFL Draft, after running back Sammie Smith, for whom he opened holes up front, was a top-ten pick.