Seminole fans, through the years, have been witness to a plethora of great running backs donning the Garnet and Gold. Some were speedsters who destroyed angles of pursuit, such as Dexter Carter, Chris Thompson, and Dalvin Cook. Several punished defenders with their power, like Greg Jones, Mark Lyles, and James Wilder. Others, still, broke ankles and evaded would-be tacklers with their elusiveness; names like Warrick Dunn and Lorenzo Booker.
And then there was Amp Lee.
Anthonea Wayne Lee (known by coaches, teammates, and fans alike as “Amp”) arrived at FSU in the summer of 1989, by way of Chipley, a small town in the Florida Panhandle. In high school Amp had been a two-sport star, leading the basketball team to the 2A state finals while scoring 68 touchdowns and nabbing 25 interceptions during a sterling football career. So, despite the aforementioned Carter and Edgar Bennett on the depth chart, Lee was simply too good to redshirt.
From the day he set foot on campus it became abundantly clear that Lee didn’t fit into any single running back genre. At 6’0, 190 pounds, he wasn’t going to overpower you with brute strength, though he could run through arm tackles all day. Similarly, while he possessed deceptive speed, he would never be on the 4x100 meter relay. He also wasn’t a jitter bug, instead utilizing patience and vision to set up blocks and make cuts while still moving north and south.
And yet, at times it appeared as if Lee was all of these things and more—with “the more” being remarkably reliable hands for any football player, let alone a running back (did I mention the 25 interceptions in high school?).
You want strength to run through arm tackles? Who can forget Lee making these UF defenders look silly during Florida State’s 1990 demolition:
Speed? Enough speed to run away from most of the Auburn defense during a top 10 showdown in Jordan-Hare:
How about elusiveness? Lee showcased balance, agility, and vision all in one run (good enough to be featured in our top 100 play countdown) against Michigan in the unforgettable 1991 battle in the Big House between top three teams:
But Lee wasn’t done having his way with the Wolverines. Check out these back-to-back plays that exemplify everything that made Lee one of the all-time greats:
Oh and you want hands, I’ve got your hands:
In case you couldn’t tell from the highlights above, Lee stamped his name all over the Seminole record books during his three years in Tallahassee.
Wasting little time as a freshman, Lee finished 5th on the team in all-purpose yards in 1989 and third on the team in touchdowns, with three rushing and three receiving. His freshman year also included his first start of his career when he filled in for an injured Dexter Carter against the number 11 Auburn Tigers and promptly rushed for 110 yards on 25 carries, helping the Seminoles earn a hard fought win over their Southeastern Conference foe.
Lee exploded in 1990, leading FSU with 18 rushing touchdowns (counting the bowl game against Penn State, which we should because it’s folly not to retroactively count bowl game stats) and another two via the pass, giving him 20 total TDs on the season. The 18 rushing and 20 total scores still rank 4th and tied for 2nd in school history, respectively.
1991 saw Lee named a Walter Camp 1st Team All-American, as the junior rushed for 977 yards, another 11 touchdowns, and added nearly 350 receiving yards and three more scores.
For his career, Lee is tied with Peter Warrick for 13th all time in scoring (T4 among non-kickers), 13th all time in rushing yards with 2,092, despite playing in fewer games (31) than any player in the top 15, and 4th in rushing touchdowns. Lee’s pass catching ability also helped him rank 13th all-time in all-purpose yards.
Leaving FSU after his junior season, Lee was taken in the second round of the 1992 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Playing for five different teams over a nine year career, Lee was one of the best receiving threats out of the backfield in the entire league, amassing more than 3,000 receiving yards. His best year was in 1997 when he caught 61 balls for 825 yards and three scores for the Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams, being named the Rams’ team MVP in the process. Incredibly, this meant all three running backs on FSU’s 1989 depth chart won a Super Bowl.
While Lee’s legacy at FSU is secure, his family is still contributing to Garnet and Gold success, with his nephew, Trent Forrest, leading FSU’s basketball team as its point guard. Built more like a football player than hoops star, Forrest is quiet, humble, and exhibits a selfless spirit much like his Uncle Amp.