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The top 100 FSU Football players: No. 33— linebacker Telvin Smith

The soul of FSU’s 2013 championship enters the top 100 countdown.

Florida State v Clemson

One could probably the end the article after the first thirteen seconds of this video and it’d give you a pretty good idea of everything Telvin Smith meant to FSU, but I won’t do that. He deserves more than that.

Fight for each other!

Fight for each other!

What are we?!

One Team, One Heartbeat!

What we gonna do?


And that’s what Telvin Smith did at FSU. A two-time ACC Champion, a national champion on arguably the best team of the modern era, and one of the unquestioned leaders of the Jimbo Fisher ACC dynasty. Smith spent the first few years of his career primarily as a back-up, making splash plays on special teams with his defensive back speed and providing a big spark off the bench until 2013.

But before discussing Smith’s 2013 you have to discuss his 2012, because that year he almost lost it all; for most of the 2012 off-season, Smith was academically ineligible. Instead of bulking up and possibly supplanting 2012 starter Vince Williams, Smith was sleeping on various teammates’ couches and losing weight, because he hadn’t kept his grades up.

It was that wake-up call that inspired Smith to buckle down and do what he had to do in order to remain a Seminole, and it’s that same mentality that he brought back to the football field that would go on to inspire the start of 29 straight victories for FSU and bring the ’Noles to the pinnacle of college football.

In 2013, with his grades in order and his starter status cemented after WIlliams’ departure to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Smith led FSU with 75 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, and 3 interceptions, two of which he took back for scores that would make you say “okay it makes sense that this linebacker ran a 4.48 at the combine.”

There are other LBs on our countdown list who have more impressive career stats, but Smith is No. 33 on this list because you can’t quantify the leadership he brought to FSU and the culture of hard work that he instilled once he regained his FSU scholarship in 2012.

Following the 2013 season, the senior linebacker was drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he would go on to outperform his draft slot by a landslide. In five NFL seasons Smith racked up nearly 600 tackles, as well as four defensive touchdowns, and nine interceptions: ridiculous numbers. He was named to the All-Pro team in 2017.

In an emotional post on Instagram he announced that he would be stepping away from football for 2019 for personal reasons.

Here’s to hoping Smith feels comfortable enough to return to football soon; his first five years in Jacksonville had the making of a Hall-of-Fame type career.