The moment has finally arrived.
This off-season, the TN community determined the top four Florida State Seminoles in school history at each position, constructing and sculpting a positional Mount Rushmore for them as voted on by the Tomahawk Nation community.
Finally, we asked you to determine the all-time Mount Rushmore of FSU players. The eight finalists were based on the results from the winners on offense and defense, but there can only be four on the final mountain.
Without further ado, we present to you the all-time Mount Rushmore of FSU Players.
Who are the top four players in FSU history?
Quarterback Charlie Ward (79.7%)
Charlie Ward originally signed with FSU in the spring of 1988. The Thomasville, Georgia native was a well known product in the south, making Super Prep Magazine’s All-Dixie team in football and second team all-state in basketball, however he wasn’t an elite national recruit. However, the recently enacted (and controversial) NCAA rule known as Proposition 48 forced Ward to spend a year taking courses at TCC before officially enrolling at FSU in the summer of 1989.
In 1992, Ward’s patience and hard work paid off and he was named the ‘Noles’ starting QB. Through six games of the 1992 season, Ward was literally averaging more turnovers per game on the football field than he did as starting point guard the previous year, tossing 13 INTs and just 10 TDs. It was against Georgia Tech, facing near certain defeat in Atlanta against a program FSU had never beaten, that the magic of “Chollie” was born.
Needing to score and score quickly, Bobby Bowden put Ward in the shot gun and let him run what would later become known as the “Fastbreak Offense.” This shift away from FSU’s classic I-Formation allowed Ward to operate more in space and make use of his basketball-honed vision, not only resulting in an epic FSU comeback but also revolutionizing college football offenses almost overnight. Florida State averaged nearly 53 points per game over its final four contests of 1992, including a 45-24 thrashing of the 6th ranked Gators. The following season would be the long awaited year for Seminole faithful and Coach Bowden, as FSU would go 12-1 and win its first ever college football national title.
A second-team All-American in 1992, the senior signal caller used his devastating dual-threat ability (rare in those days) to become one of the most decorated football players of all time in 1993. In fact, Ward won every single athletic award he was eligible for, including the Heisman, Maxwell, Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas, and Walter Camp awards. His Heisman victory is still the third largest in history and he even won the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award given to the nation’s top amateur athlete, becoming the first college football player earning that honor since Doc Blanchard and Arnold Tucker won it in 1945 and 1946 while starring at Army.
Defensive Back Deion Sanders (57.7%)
You may have thought that achieving the status of consensus All-American was about as good as it got in college football. But there’s another level: unanimous All-American. See, to attain the high honor of consensus All-American, a player has to earn first-team recognition from a certain number of specific national media outlets.
But to be a unanimous All-American? You have to sweep the recognitions, across the board. All first-team acknowledgments, no exceptions. And that brings us to the only Seminole who achieved unanimous All-America status twice. The greatest cornerback in the history of football, Deion Sanders. No exceptions.
Sanders arrived from Fort Myers at FSU in 1985, seeing the field mostly as a reserve defender during his first year while balancing football and track with life away from home. He broke up four passes, but his freshman highpoint came against Tulsa, when he returned an interception 100 yards for his first FSU touchdown. Of course, that’s still the longest pick-six in program history.
Bobby Bowden also got the ball in Sanders’ hands by making him the team’s primary punt returner. His inclusion on special teams really paid off, beginning with that Tulsa game, when he returned five punts for an average of 17.2 YPR. In the regular season finale at Florida, Sanders returned one punt 34 yards and also scored on a 58-yard blocked punt return. He averaged 19 yards per return over five tries against the Gators in that game.
1986 saw Sanders add Seminole baseball to his already busy schedule, which prompts the very important interjection that while he’d become known for the seeming ease with which he patrolled the gridiron, it wasn’t all just natural talent. Spread across three sports and school, Sanders was well known as one of the hardest working players in FSU football practices. Hour upon hour of toiling in the north Florida heat: there wouldn’t have been a Prime Time without some serious grind time.
And ’86 is when the fruits of those labors really began to show up on the national stage. He came up with 61 tackles, four interceptions, eight pass breakups, as well as two forced fumbles and one recovery. All while continuing to field punts at nearly 10 yards per return. Sanders averaged double-digit punt-return yardage against half the teams he faced, exceeding the 24-YPR mark against Miami and South Carolina.
And this illustrates just how good Sanders was for the ’Noles as a sophomore: well before he was the greatest, he was already outstanding, garnering first-team All-America honors from The Sporting News, along with earning a third-team nod from the AP and an honorable mention from the UPI. He was also a sophomore All-American per Football News, and a first-team All-South Independent selection.
By 1987, Sanders was no longer a surprise to opposing offenses— but it didn’t matter, because he just kept getting better. After FSU’s disappointing 1986 season saw the Seminoles finish 7-4-1, Sanders helped begin the ’Nole dynasty in ’87.
With quarterbacks well aware of his immense talent and staying away from his side of the field, Sanders still amassed four more picks while breaking up nine passes and forcing a fumble. He also returned a punt for a touchdown against Tulane. Remember, DB recognition is often about not having your name called, and Sanders had opponents playing scared, plain and simple. And if they went at him, well then they were just playing stupid— and with fire.
That’s why he was named a unanimous All-American after the Seminoles’ 11-1 season. While obviously repeating as an All-South Independent choice, he was voted a first-team All-American selection by the AP, the UPI, the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association, The Sporting News, Football News, Walter Camp, Kodak, and Scripps Howard.
Case in point: in the season’s third game, Sanders called his shot to the Clemson bench in Death Valley prior to returning a punt. And in Ruthian fashion, he delivered, taking it back 76 yards in front of a stunned crowd.
Maybe even dumber than punting to Sanders, teams still occasionally tried to throw at him, even though he’d firmly entrenched himself as the nation’s premier defensive back. He authored a career-high five interceptions and took two back for scores (tied for the most in the country that season), but none of his INTs were bigger than his final play in an FSU uniform, a pick against Auburn that sealed a Sugar Bowl victory for the Seminoles and capped yet another 11-1 season.
That postseason pick was hardly something new from Sanders, who earned his Prime Time nickname by performing on the biggest stages: he intercepted a pass in all four of the bowl games he played— and Florida State won them all.
Again after the 1988 campaign, Sanders was recognized as a unanimous All-American, as the AP, UPI, FWAA, AFCA, The Sporting News, Football News, Walter Camp, and Kodak again named him a first-team choice. In the most unnecessary follow-up ever, he was a first-team All-South Independent first-team honoree, too. Sanders also became FSU’s first winner of the Thorpe Award, given annually to the country’s top DB, and he led the nation with both 503 total punt-return yards and an astounding average of 15.4 yards per attempt.
Sanders remains tied for third in career INTs at Florida State with 14, and his four career pick-sixes are tied for the most in FSU history. Some might think that he’d have chilled a bit on the punt returns, given their inherent risk and the obviously lucrative future in front of him at DB. But that’s the kind of blowback Sanders always gets from those who only really tend to remember his persona and dancing.
But substance and style are far from mutually exclusive. Sanders was a dogged competitor who didn’t forego an opportunity to get an advantage over an opponent. His punt returns actually increased from his freshman to senior year at FSU— as did his average return each season. His 126 career punt returns still top the Seminole record books, as do his 1,429 punt-return yards and three punt-return TDs (tied). Some perspective: if Sanders’ career punt-return yards were a single-season rushing total, they’d be third in Florida State history, behind only Dalvin Cook’s 2016 and 2015 campaigns.
Sanders was selected almost as quickly as his 4.27 40-yard dash time at the combine in the 1989 NFL Draft, coming off the board fifth after being chosen by the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons were not disappointed. Playing football and baseball (he’d already been drafted by the New York Yankees in 1988), Sanders was a Pro-Bowl selection for Atlanta in 1992 and 1993, by which point he was also playing his pro baseball in the ATL, for the Braves.
He then moved on to play football for the San Francisco 49ers in 1994, where he again made the Pro Bowl and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl XXIX title. The next season, he headed to Dallas, and promptly won Super Bowl XXX. He was a Pro-Bowl honoree of the Cowboys from 1996-1999.
All told, Sanders made the Pro Bowl seven times. The only ’Noles with more selections are Walter Jones (9) and Derrick Brooks (11). Sanders was inducted the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011, the same year that saw him enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame as well. As you might expect, Sanders made the Florida State Hall of Fame well earlier, in 1994. His No. 2 is retired at FSU.
Linebacker Derrick Brooks (52.4%)
Derrick Brooks is greatness personified. All you need to know about his high school career is he was later named to the All-Century Team by the FHSAA.
Brooks came to Florida State as one of its most heralded recruits ever and left FSU having set a new standard for the outside linebacker position. His ability to run like a receiver and make plays like a defensive back made him one of the most exciting players in all of college football.
At Florida State he was a three-time first team All-ACC player from 1992-1994. He was a first team sophomore All-American in 1992, and an Unanimous All-American in 1993, with nine publications all naming him to the first team. He was also named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year in ‘93 and led FSU’s defense as the program claimed its first national championship. He was a consensus All-American in 1994. He was a finalist for the Vince Lombardi Award twice, and for the Butkus Award once, and Football Writer’s Defensive Player of the Year Award twice.
Last but certainly not least, he was named an ACC All-Academic second team as a junior and an Academic All-American following his senior season. He finished his collegiate career with 274 tackles, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, five interceptions, 13 pass breakups, two blocked kicks, and three touchdowns.
In 1993, Brooks had perhaps the greatest stretch by any FSU defender ever. In the opener against Kansas, he was active in one of the greatest goal line stands of all time. FSU would go on to win 42-0.
The following week against Duke he had a pick six, and FSU won 45-7. In their third game against Clemson, Brooks had a scoop n’ score and blocked a punt, and the defense had another goal line stand where Brooks destroyed Clemson running back Rodney Blunt. The ’Noles won 57-0.
In week four against No. 13 North Carolina, Brooks had yet another pick six, and FSU won 33-7. They crushed Georgia Tech in their next game 51-0. If you’re keeping score, Brooks singlehandedly outscored FSU’s first five opponents that year.
The following season Brooks capped a rematch win against the Gators in the 1995 Sugar Bowl following the Choke at Doak, intercepting Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel with less than two minutes left in the game.
A few months later Brooks would be selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 28th overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. Brooks played 14 seasons in the NFL and was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection and a nine-time All-Pro. He was the named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2000, the same year he was inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame.
He was also named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press following the 2002 season in which the Bucs won their first Super Bowl. That year Brooks set an NFL record for the most touchdowns by a linebacker with four — one scoop n’ score and three pick-sixes, including one in the Super Bowl. He would score a total of seven times in his career.
In 2014 Brooks was a first ballot inductee to the NFL Hall of Fame. He is widely considered one of the greatest linebackers of all time. Both his collegiate No. 10 and professional No. 55 numbers are retired.
Wide Receiver Peter Warrick (49%)
You know his name, a name that still makes opposing defensive coaches in the late 90’s wake up with night sweats. The first, and arguably most famous “make you miss” man in college football history, is Florida State’s Peter Warrick.
Warrick could make three defenders miss in a phone booth; hop into another phone booth and make three more kiss the ground.
As good as he was with the ball in his hands; he was equally as good without it. An excellent route runner, Warrick was almost always open by a good one to two yards. If he happened to be covered, he had no issues leaping over the top of the defender to make a catch, landing like a cat and waltzing into the end zone for a touchdown while said defender fell down in a feeble attempt to keep him from scoring.
As a senior, Warrick caught 71 passes for 934 yards and eight touchdowns, averaged 13.2 yards per reception, and also ran for 96 yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns. Warrick was a dangerous punt returner who averaged 12.6 yards on 18 returns and scored one TD. He lined up behind center several times during the season and ran for two scores while at quarterback and also threw for a touchdown. Warrick carried a school record streak of 40 straight games with at least one catch into the glorious 1999 Sugar Bowl, then dazzled by setting a then-bowl record with three touchdowns and adding a two point conversion.
He was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and while his professional career didn’t match his college years, Warrick will always be among the first names mentioned whenever the debate of “Best Seminoles of All-Time” starts up.
The next four:
- Running Back Warrick Dunn (40.3%)
- Defensive Lineman Ron Simmons (39.9%)
- Linebacker Marvin Jones (24.1%)
- Running Back Dalvin Cook (15.4%)
Tomahawk Nation, we thank you.
Your engagement in this series has been incredible. From the passionate takes in the comment section to the staggering number of votes in the polls, you have proven once again why you make up the best community across the SBNation platform.