clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mount Rushmore Mondays: Which four FSU offensive tackles belong?

Determining the Mount Rushmore of FSU greats, position by position.

FSU Sports Info

Let’s keep the choosin’ going.

To help the offseason pass a bit faster Tomahawk Nation is continuing our new Mount Rushmore series, where we’ll be determining the top four Seminoles at each position by weighing everything from stats to accomplishments to historical significance.

Each Monday, we’ll post a poll for the Tomahawk Nation community to choose their top four Seminoles for that week’s position group. On Tuesday, various TN contributors will make their cases in a roundtable format and then finally, we’ll share final poll results each Wednesday to determine that position’s Mount Rushmore.

This week, we’re continuing the series by looking at the offensive tackles. Check out a brief description under each player to read more about their accomplishments (alongside selections from our previous series revolving around the top 100 players in FSU history and the top 100 plays), then vote for your top four at the bottom and let us know the reasoning behind your choices in the comments.

Let the debate begin!

Alex Barron

Alex Barron was regarded as the nation’s top pass blocker during his junior and senior seasons, and he was the only Seminole offensive lineman in school history to earn the distinction of having his locker sealed.

The Seminoles pulled Barron, a four-star prospect, from Orangeburg, South Carolina in 2000— when he promptly redshirted. And in his first two years of eligibility after that, Barron saw action in just five games, starting only one, late in the 2002 season.

So let’s just say he was rested. Or due. Or angry. Because for the rest of his career in Tallahassee, Barron was one of the best offensive linemen in the country.

Barron was a first-team All-ACC choice in both 2003 and 2004 and he became FSU’s first consensus All-American OT in 2003 when he was named a first-teamer by the AP, the FWAA, and Walter Camp, while garnering an Honorable Mention from

In 2004, Barron piled up more recognition, again being recognized as a consensus All-American. Naming him to their first teams were the AP, the FWAA, Walter Camp, The Sporting News, the American Football Coaches Association, College Football News, and ESPN.

Barron allowed just five quarterback pressures and one sack over his last 11 regular season games, and was regarded as the top-rated tackle in college football according to NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.

In earning two-time consensus All-America nods, Barron joined a very exclusive club of just six other ’Noles who can lay claim to that accomplishment: Ron Simmons, Deion Sanders, Derrick Brooks, Marvin Jones, Sebastian Janikowski, and Peter Warrick. No Seminole has done it since.

Barron opted out of the NFL draft in order to return for his senior season. Once his amateur eligibility was exhausted, Barron was drafted by the St. Louis Rams who picked him with the 19th overall pick. Barron was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame in 2016.

Andrew Datko

In 2008, as a true freshman, he started the final 12 games, playing 852 snaps and recording 21 knockdown blocks as he earned Freshman All-American honors from the FWAA, Sporting News, Rivals and Phil Steele.

In 2009, Datko started every game at left tackle, allowing just two sacks throughout the season, logging 24 knockdown blocks and received an average grade of 80 percent, earning him honorable mention All-ACC honors and as well as ACC Lineman of the Week recognition for his dominant performance in a come-from-behind win at North Carolina.

As a true junior in 2010, Datko missed three games due to a shoulder injury sustained during the Oklahoma game, ending his streak of 27 consecutive starts. He allowed just one sack in 11 games, with just three penalties and five missed assignments on 691 snaps, maintaining a season-average grade of 87.

He was drafted in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers in 2012, appearing in four preseason games.

Char-ron Dorsey

Dorsey attended Bolles School, where he was a defensive tackle and a three-time first-team Class 4A All-State selection. As a senior, he registered 70 tackles (40 solo). He also played power forward in basketball.

He accepted a football scholarship from Florida State University. As a true freshman, he played in six games at defensive tackle, registering 11 tackles and one sack.

As a sophomore, he was converted into an offensive tackle. He competed for the starting role at right tackle until suffering a season-ending neck injury.

As a junior, he was demoted to third-string after having problems maintaining his playing weight, but eventually earned his way to back up Tarlos Thomas at right tackle in a season when the team won a national championship.

As a senior, he received All-ACC honors and became a starter at right tackle ahead of sophomore Brett Williams, while helping quarterback Chris Weinke win the Heisman Trophy.

Cam Erving

Flexibility isn’t often a trait associated with linemen. But Cam Erving’s versatility helped define his championship career as a Seminole. Originally from Moultrie, Georgia, Erving was recruited to Florida State as a defensive tackle in 2010, the first year of the Jimbo Fisher era in Tallahassee.

He redshirted that first season, but flipped to the offensive side of the ball before the 2012 season. He was the starting left tackle and an All-ACC honorable mention selection in helping the ’Noles win their first ACC title since 2005— and the first of three straight conference crowns, all behind Erving.

But Erving really announced himself during FSU’s national championship season of 2013. Protecting Jameis Winston’s blindside, Erving was named a first-team All-American by The Sporting News, Football News,, USA Today, and the Football Writers Association of America and a second-teamer per the AP,, and Walter Camp. He also made the All-ACC first team, where he repeated in 2014.

That season saw Erving’s stock climb even higher. With Rod Johnson maturing, Erving made a mid-season move inside to center, bolstering the Seminoles’ interior effectiveness with his impressive athleticism. He was a first-team All-American per, he made the second team for, and named him an honorable mention. Erving won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, presented annually to the ACC’s top offensive lineman, in both 2013 and 2014.

The Cleveland Browns recognized Erving’s versatile value, making him a first-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Todd Fordham

Todd was a four-year letterman at FSU and played in 44 games. As a senior in 1996, Fordham was offensive team captain and started every game at right offensive tackle before moving to right offensive guard for the last two games.

As a junior in 1995, he started every game and did not allow a sack or pressure all year. That play garnered him honorable mention All-ACC recognition.

He surrendered just one sack and had a team-high 30 pancake blocks during his senior year, earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference second-team honors.

Mario Henderson

Henderson played for Florida State from 2003-06, developing into a consistent starter for the Seminoles his senior season where he started all 13 games.

Drafted in the third round by the then-Oakland Raiders, he played four years in the NFL, starting all 16 games of the 2009 Raiders season.

John Ionata

From 1983 to 1985, Ionata started 34 games for the Seminoles and was a three-time All-South Independents team member at offensive tackle, receiving second-team recognition in 1983 and 1984 before breaking through to the first team in his senior season, 1985.

He earned All-American Honorable Mention honors in 1985 from both the AP and Football News and was drafted in the ninth round — 242nd overall — by the Dallas Cowboys.

Joey Ionata

Brother of John, Ionata started 31 games over the course of his Seminoles career, which lasted from 1984-1988.

He earned All-American Honorable Mention honors from the AP in 1988, as well named to the All-South Independents second-team in 1988.

(His son, Joseph, is a 2024 recruit who currently is committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide.)

Roderick Johnson

Rod Johnson spent just three seasons in garnet and gold but he sure made the most of them. Arriving in 2014 from Hazelwood Central High in Florissant, Missouri, Johnson played in 8 games as a true freshman, including starting the last five at left tackle. Yes, a true freshman was starting at LT for a team that hadn’t lost in two years. Following the season, Johnson was named 1st team Freshman All-American by multiple outlets, including the USA Today.

His sophomore and junior seasons were nothing short of dominant. The pillar of consistency, Johnson started every single game in 2015 and 2016, anchoring an o-line that paved the way for Dalvin Cook to smash school rushing records. While Cook made the highlight plays, it was Johnson doing the dirty work. Impactful in both pass protection and run blocking, his ability to make powerful blocks on the move was perhaps his best attribute. Watch him here (LT, 77) completely drive his man out of the play to spring Cook for the touchdown:

His prowess did not go unnoticed. You want honors? Check these out:

  • Back-to-back All-ACC 1st team
  • Back-to-back Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner, joining FSU greats Cam Erving, Rodney Hudson, Brett Williams, and Clay Shiver to accomplish that
  • 2nd team All-American in 2015
  • 1st team All-American in 2016

Johnson was taken in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns and was most recently on the Eagles practice squad for the 2022 season.

Walter Jones

The one and only Walter Jones hails from Aliceville, Alabama. After high school Jones enrolled at Holmes Community College in Mississippi, where he played for two seasons at both offensive tackle and tight end. In his final season he was named the Mississippi Junior College Player of the Year. In his two seasons with the Bulldogs Jones only allowed one sack.

Jones of course transferred to Florida State to play under then-head coach Bobby Bowden, but he redshirted his first season in the Garnet and Gold in 1995. The following season FSU initially placed Jones at guard before injuries forced a move to tackle. Jones had bulked up to 290 pounds, a far cry from Holmes where he played at 265. But despite the weight gain, Jones didn’t lose any of his agility, quickness, or explosiveness.

Jones started every game in 1996 protecting the blindside of quarterback Thad Busby and run blocking for Warrick Dunn, and did a dadgum good job of it too. FSU went undefeated in the regular season but dropped the Sugar Bowl in a re-match with the Florida Gators. However, Jones was stellar, allowing a total of, you guessed it, just one sack.

After the season Jones was named a second team All-American by the Associated Press and second team All-ACC. Unfortunately, that’s all the time FSU got with Jones; he forfeited his final year of college eligibility to enter the 1997 NFL Draft.

But it was the right decision. Jones was drafted sixth overall by the Seattle Seahawks and went on to have one of the greatest careers in pro football history. Jones was named to a total of nine Pro Bowls, and was named first-team All-Pro four times and second-team two times. He played a total of 180 games in the NFL, along the way being named the best player in the NFL by Sporting News in 2006.

He was later named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team. Jones is widely considered one of if not the greatest offensive tackle of all time. April 30th was declared “Walter Jones Day” in the state of Washington by gubernatorial proclamation. As if that wasn’t enough, Jones was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 2014.

Derrick Kelly

While he struggled with injuries on and off throughout his career, Kelly was a key presence and occasional lone bright spot in tough years for the Florida State offensive line.

He redshirted his freshman year (2014), starting four of six games in 2015 before a season-ending injury. He started two more games in 2016, then took over as a full-time starter over the course of the next two seasons — playing both tackle and guard.

He spent two years with the New Orleans Saints after going undrafted, bouncing around to the New York Giants and Jets before returning to New Orleans for a stint on the practice squad in 2022. He currently played for the San Antonio Brahmas of the XFL.

Ken Lanier

From the second game of his freshman season in 1977 to the last seconds of the 1981 Orange Bowl, Ken Lanier started every Florida State football game on the offensive line. Over that span of time, where FSU football reached the pinnacle of success, the Seminoles were 39-8 and played in three bowl games. Lanier started 46 straight games for the Seminoles.

Lanier won All-South Independent honors both his junior and senior years, and in 1980 as a senior, was chosen to the second team of the Associated Press All-American squad. That honor is shared by only two other FSU linemen in history - the late Del Williams and former Atlanta Falcon’s lineman Jamie Dukes. Ken was elected into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1987.

The Denver Broncos made Lanier their fifth round draft pick several months after the 1981 Orange Bowl and during that time, the 6-3, 275 pounder anchored down a starting position on the Broncos’ line. He was one of three Seminoles who played in the 1987 Super Bowl.

The Columbus, Ohio native was a two-sport athlete at FSU, and his 1979 shot put record of 60-feet, 4 inches is still etched in Seminole record books today.

Rick Leonard

After starting off his Florida State career as a defensive end, Leonard made the flip to the offensive trenches and started six games at right tackle in 2016, helping pave the way for a Seminoles offense that averaged 202.3 rushing yards and 264.1 passing yards per game. One of his biggest games came against Syracuse, where he helped Dalvin Cook rush for 225 yards and four touchdowns, allowing no sacks on the day.

He started all 13 games of the 2017 season at right tackle, where once again a running back had a major game against Syracuse — this time, Cam Akers, who put up 199 yards vs. the Orange.

He was drafted in the fourth round, with the New Orleans Saints selecting him with the 127th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He bounced around the Rams, Cardinals, Commanders, Falcons, and Vikings practice squads from 2018-2021 before appearing in his first career game with the Falcons vs. the Buffalo Bills in 2022.

Bill Rhodes

Rhodes started 22 games over the course of his three-year career in Tallahassee, playing in three straight bowl appearances for the Seminoles — the 1966 Sun Bowl, the 1967 Gator Bowl, and the 1968 Peach Bowl. He was selected by the then-St. Louis Cardinals in 1969 in the fourth round, and was elected to the FSU Hall of Fame in 1992.

Rhodes, sadly, passed away just two months ago at the age of 75 in Umatilla, having worked as a beekeeper for 45 years until his retirement in 2021.

Tarlos Thomas

Tarlos was recruited out of nearby Jefferson County High School where he played center. He was a first team Class 3A selection and received the highest possible rating in Deep South Football, and the National Recruiting Advisor. Tarlos chose FSU over UCLA, South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida.

Tarlos started every game at right tackle during his sophomore and junior seasons. His junior season he was a First team All-ACC selection at offensive tackle and was often called on to block opponent’s top pass rusher due to being very athletic and experienced with 23 straight starts under his belt. His consistency was a critical component of FSU going Wire-to-Wire for a national championship.

In 2000, he missed several games and played hurt during several more during his senior season due to an anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments injury. Despite this, he won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, awarded annually to the ACC’s most outstanding blocker. At that time, Thomas was the third Seminole to earn the award.

Tra Thomas

From Deland, Tra was a four-year letterman who started after the first game his junior season, and held the spot for the next 20 games. Thomas backed up NFL standouts Todd Fordham and Walter Jones prior to his senior year. With his exceptional size and great strength, Tra earned 2nd Team All-American honors from the Associated Press his senior year.

Thomas was selected by the Eagles with the 11th overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. He played for the Eagles for 11 seasons, from 1998–2008.

Thomas was also a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers. He was a one-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection in his career.

Pat Tomberlin

It’s not often that you get to type these words: four-time All-American. Pat Tomberlin helped open holes for such Seminole greats as Sammie Smith, Dexter Carter, Victor Floyd, Keith Ross and Tony Smith.

Successful football teams are built in the trenches. 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.

Coach Bobby Bowden stands with football player, Pat Tomberlin

Barry Voltapetti

Voltapetti spent five years in Tallahassee, redshirting in 1977 after coming out of Chamiade High School in Hollywood, Florida. He made appearances in 10 games in 1980 before becoming a full-fledged starter in 1981.

Voltapetti earned first-team All-South Independent honors in 1981, as well as an honorable mention nod from the AP.

Menelik Watson

From across the pond in Manchester, England, Watson only played one season at FSU after spending a couple years in JUCO, but what a single season it was. The former basketball player flashed his immense athleticism immediately upon arrival and secured a starting spot at right tackle from nearly day one.

A violent player, Watson was known for his powerful first punch. When asked about going against him in practice, teammate and future NFL defensive lineman Tank Carradine said, “Yeah, I feel it. It hurts...if he grabs or punches you, it’s kind of impossible.”

How big of an impact did Watson have on FSU’s offense? Clearly one guy doesn’t make an o-line, but consider this: in 2011 FSU averaged 3.3 yards per rush, had 20 rushing touchdowns, and allowed 40 sacks. In the 2012, with the same QB and running backs, FSU averaged 5.6 yards per rush, doubled their rushing TDs to 40, and only allowed 26 sacks. What’s more, just one of those 26 sacks was allowed by Watson.

For his efforts, Watson All-ACC Honorable Mention, which is impressive considering offensive lineman usually take several years to generate enough name recognition to be honored by the media. The NFL, on the other hand, catches on much faster. Watson was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the 42nd overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. He’d enjoy a five year NFL tenure before a career ending injury in late 2017.

Brett Williams

Williams made his way to Tallahassee from Kissimmee in 1998, when he redshirted. But he wouldn’t remain on the sideline for long. Williams was a decorated starter for four years from 1999-2002. After watching the Seminoles drop the national title game to Tennessee to conclude the ’98 season, Williams was part of the unit that helped FSU defeat Virginia Tech to wrap up 1999’s wire-to-wire national championship. Williams led the ’Noles back to the national title game the year after the 2000 campaign as well. In his five years on the Florida State roster, the Seminoles captured four ACC crowns.

As a redshirt freshman in ’99, Williams earned second-team All-ACC honors, a feat he repeated in 2000. The next two seasons, he was a first-team honoree. Williams also bookended his FSU career with All-American recognition. In 1999, he was a first-team Freshman All-American per Football News. And in 2002, Williams was a first-team All-American according to The Sporting News, College Football News, and the American Football Coaches Association, and the AP and named him a second-teamer. He won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the ACC’s top offensive lineman, in both 2001 and 2002.

The Kansas City Chiefs selected Williams in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

Ray Willis

Hailing from Texas A&M Aggie country in Angleton, Texas, Willis arrived in Tallahassee as the Dynasty was in its late stage, arriving in the same recruiting class as Alex Barron. What a duo they would become.

Willis was a part-time starter in his redshirt freshman year before locking up the right tackle position for the next three seasons. In fact, over his FSU career he actually started more games (42) than Barron (25).

Called the “Big Intimidator” by teammates, Willis was a pure road grader in run blocking. While he may not have had Barron’s freakish athleticism, the 6’6 325 pounder played with an “I want to dominate you on every snap” attitude and when he got his big paws on you it was game over. Barron deservedly received much of the accolades during their careers, but quite often when guys like Greg Jones or Leon Washington were finding their way into the endzone, it was on the right side behind a bulldozer block by big number 77 (watch the pancake against Clemson in 2002 below).

In 2004, Willis All-ACC Honorable mention and became a 4th round draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2005 draft, where he enjoyed a 6 year career.

Who are the top four offensive tackles in FSU history?

Previous results

Quarterbacks: Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke, Jameis Winston, Jordan Travis

Running Backs: Warrick Dunn, Dalvin Cook, Greg Allen, Amp Lee

Wide Receivers: Peter Warrick, Fred Biletnikoff, Rashad Greene, Ron Sellers

Tight Ends: Nick O’Leary, Pat Carter, Lonnie Johnson, Melvin Pearsall