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Florida State Mount Rushmore, Running Backs: Tomahawk Nation staff picks

Tomahawk Nation contributors offer up their picks for FSU’s top four running back

Florida State Seminoles v Clemson Tigers

To help the off-season pass a bit faster, Tomahawk Nation is introducing our new Mount Rushmore series, where we’ll be determining the top four Seminoles at each position.

Yesterday, we posted a poll for the Tomahawk Nation community to choose their top four running backs in Florida State history, and we’ll share the final poll results on Wednesday to reveal that position’s Mount Rushmore as chosen by you, Tomahawk Nation.

Today, we present to you the choices from some of our staff personalities below. These guys have delved into their considerable knowledge about Florida State football, or quite possibly just threw darts at a board with Perry’s face on it* (we may never know).

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts on their picks in the comments and if you haven’t voted yet, hop into the poll below.

*Editor’s note: this board was not created for voodoo-related activities — rather, it was this year’s staff Christmas gift.

Who are the top four running backs in FSU history?

Matt Minnick:

This might surprise some people but the easiest pick for me by far was Greg Allen. He was the first real superstar FSU had at running back and his combination of power, speed, and vision made him a true freak of nature. We are talking about a guy who as a freshman had stat lines of 31/202/1, 32/322/1, 23/109/1 in back-to-back-to-back games, with two of those opponents being LSU and Miami. The man had 6 different games of 3+ rushing TDs (Cook, by comparison, had 4 such games). Add in my perspective about “Mt. Rushmore” being tilted away from current players and it’s a no-brainer.

Warrick Dunn was the next pick for me. A true multi-faceted weapon, Dunn combined longevity and monster plays in big games to become a Seminole legend. And somehow he is an even better person than he was running back.

Next up is Larry Key. He’s sort of the “Steve Tensi” of running backs. His career stats aren’t overwhelming, but he was the first running back in school history to have a 1,000 yard season, he led the nation in all-purpose yards in 1977, and his dominance as a senior helped a young Bobby Bowden bring FSU back from the brink (seriously, there had been talk of possibly ending the program), capping it off with 20 carries for 143 yards in a 37-9 win over UF in Hogtown—the Seminoles’ first victory over the Gators in a decade.

Which brings me to the 4th guy, Dalvin Cook. One week ago I excluded Jameis Winston from my QB Mt. Rushmore because I argued these spots had a connotation of “founders.” And it’s true that Cook played even more recently than Winston did. But Cook, in my mind, had a career that simply blows away the rest. He broke Dunn’s rushing record in 11 fewer games. There have been two occasions in school history with a running back going over 1,500 yards—Cook as a sophomore and Cook as a junior. He’s got 3 of the top 5 single-game rushing records and 4 of the top 7 and his 46 rushing TDs broke Allen’s once unreachable record. Had Winston played a 3rd season, his ownership of the record book would likely look similar. But he didn’t and it doesn’t.

Does all this make me a hypocrite? Maybe. And if so, I’ll own it. But Dalvin Cook is the best running back in school history and single handily kept the program relevant during the post-divorce Jimbo era. FSU won nearly as many games (20) during Cook’s sophomore and junior seasons thanduring the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons combined (21). If that guy’s face isn’t carved into the FSU running back Mt. Rushmore, then what are we really doing here?

Guys who just missed the cut were Amp Lee (that Michigan defender is still rehabbing his ankles), Edgar Bennett, and Dexter Carter. If we had a “swag” Mt. Rushmore, Dexter would definitely make it.


Dalvin Cook, Warrick Dunn, Greg Allen, Edgar Bennett

Cook, Dunn, and Allen were all easy choices for me. Allen is one of the best players many newer Seminole fans have never heard of, which is a shame. Dunn speaks for himself as one of the most exciting players and best humans to ever represent the garnet and gold. Cook’s dominant productivity and what he meant to the program in just three years is even more incredible in retrospect.

That fourth spot, though… oof! Very tough decision. I decided to award Bennett, who transformed the fullback position at FSU with his versatility and athleticism. He became the measuring stick to whom all future Seminole fullbacks would be compared (though none could ever equal or surpass him) and he was an integral piece on some incredible teams. Bennett would also have an excellent chance at getting on the Mount Rushmore for both “best teammates” and “most unselfish players” at FSU. He gets the nod over Larry Key, Devonta Freeman, Travis Minor, and Amp Lee for me (I guess that’s my secondary Mount Rushmore).

Jon Loesche:

Warrick Dunn, Dalvin Cook, Greg Allen, Larry Key

No running back made more big plays in big time moments in FSU history than Warrick Dunn. Without Dunn taking it to the house to put the Gators away in 1993 the Noles don't win their first national championship. Dunn's touchdown pass to Omar Ellison was the difference in the 5th Quarter in the French Quarter. If instant replay was a thing in 1995 Dunn keeps the Noles ACC winning streak alive vs Virginia. Dunn broke the back of Miami in 96 to finally end the Noles losing streak in the Orange Bowl. To say nothing of Dunn's amazing charity work that makes him arguably the finest man to put on a FSU uniform.

Dalvin Cook is the best pure running back in FSU history. He owns virtually every career & single season record in FSU history. As time has gone on its become clear Cook postponed the bottom falling out for FSU as Jimbo Fisher became increasingly checked out.

Greg Allen was arguably the first real superstar offensive player of the Bowden era. The few records Dalvin Cook doesn't own and every record Cook did break were previously owned by Allen.

The fourth spot was difficult. Travis Minor, Cam Akers, and Greg Jones all crossed my mind. But I ultimately went with Key. His 1977 campaign propelled FSU to its first 10 win season and got Bobby Bowden the momentum he needed for the his first run of success in the late 70s/early 80s.

Jon Marchant:

Dalvin Cook, Warrick Dunn, Greg Allen, Travis Minor

The first three are easy. It’s deciding the fourth that I found impossible. No matter how you slice it, Dalvin Cook is the best pure rusher to ever don the Garnet and Gold. Warrick Dunn was the best; depending on what you value, he still might be. Allen’s resume speaks for itself.

But for the fourth spot, I went with national champion and all-purpose back Travis Minor. No running back for FSU has touched the ball as much as Minor, and his burst was incredible. He’s fifth among RBs in touchdowns from scrimmage. So he lands a place on my RB Mt. Rushmore.

Perry Kostidakis:

Warrick Dunn, Dalvin Cook, Greg Allen and Devonta Freeman.

I think the first three, given a look around at both the comment section and then the Tomahawk Nation staff, are obvious — Dunn, Cook and Allen each re-defined what it meant to be a Florida State running back, all in different eras. Out of the trio, I only was a concious human being during Dalvin’s run, and I mean this sincerely when I thought that every time he touched the ball, he could score. The way he ran and approached the game, to me, was the closest thing to having an NCAA Football overpowered created player cross through the threshold and enter into our reality. His impact on the program was shown when he entered the NFL and FSU instantly cratered, showcasing how much was held together by his unstoppable playmaking.

As for Devonta Freeman, this might be recency bias, but he hits every category necessary for me. Program-changing, showed up in major rivalry games, and was an essential part of a national championship squad. Racking up 1000 yards in 2013 (the first in an FSU uniform to do so since Dunn) while also splitting carries with James Wilder Jr. and Karlos Williams highlights the impact he had in making that offense so prolific.


My top 3, in any order, are obviously Greg Allen, Warrick Dunn, and Dalvin Cook.

I was fortunate to be in Tally to watch Greg Allen play for a few years, and the only thing I can say is he was a man among boys.

Warrick Dunn was instrumental in helping FSU make and win our first national championship.

Dalvin was probably the most talented and blessed of all the running backs ever to play for FSU, IMO. He second gear was almost as fast as mine when I am driving. Just a joy to watch.

Lastly, any of the FSU greats listed above would make a great 4th head on FSU’s Rushmore. I went with one of my personal favorites, Travis Minor. Travis, like Warrick, was instrumental in taking us to our 2nd national championship game and helped win it.

Minor’s 2 touchdowns against Miami as a freshman, although not highlight material, helped FSU win the most physical game I have ever witnessed, the drubbing of UM, 47-0. The trio of Davy Ford, Dee Feaster, and Minor helped keep Miami off the field, and our defense held UM to -33 yards rushing. It was the most fun I ever had at a FSU football game.

Also, he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins and I was able to watch him play in person after he left FSU for a couple of years.

Previous staff picks