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 interior offensive linemen — guards and centers. 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!
By the time his career ended in Tallahassee, Robbie Baker may have been held together by chicken wire and duct tape. The Fort Myers native was undoubtedly one of the toughest, grittiest linemen ever to don the garnet and gold.
Following a redshirt season in 1988, Baker saw time in 12 games in the 1989 campaign. He moved into the starting center role the following season, starting all 12 games and playing nearly every snap in 1990 despite numerous nagging injuries. Baker was a consistent presence along the line for a Seminoles squad that finished 10-2 and ranked 4th in the nation.
In 1991, Baker began to struggle with the consistency that made him such a dependable presence the prior season. Injuries continued to take a toll on Baker, though he still started 12 of the 13 games in which he played that season. He was among six Seminoles to miss at least one series due to injury in the nightmarish LSU slugfest victory. Baker helped protect QB Casey Weldon, who finished as runner-up in the Heisman race, and anchored the line for a FSU squad that again finished 4th in the nation.
Baker started seven of the nine games he played in during an injury-riddled 1992 senior campaign. When he saw the field, he helped lead the Seminoles to a #2 finish and 11-1 record, setting the stage for a young OL unit to take steps forward for the next season’s national championship run.
Hailing from Palm Beach Gardens, David Castillo’s Seminole playing career lasted for over half a decade from 2000-2005. Following a redshirt season during the momentous 2000 campaign, Castillo saw action in one game in 2001 and did not log any action in 2002. From 2003-2005, however, Castillo started at center in all 37 games in which he played. He soon became known for playing through injuries and gritting out gutsy performances.
Castillo had nine surgeries during his career and almost decided against playing the 2005 season. He ultimately returned to the field and served as a captain that season, helping lead FSU to a cathartic victory against the hated Miami Hurricanes, snapping a six-game losing streak, and an ACC Title victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies. Castillo’s final game came in the Orange Bowl Classic in January 2006, where the Seminoles fell to Penn State in triple overtime.
Earning All-America honors in four straight years is an incredible feat no matter where or what position you play. Jamie Dukes? Yeah, he did that.
A product of Orlando, Dukes took very little time to acclimate to Tallahassee, starting immediately as a true freshman— one of just four Seminole offensive linemen to start every game as a true frosh. He’d never relinquish those duties, remaining a starter throughout his four-year career at Florida State.
That career began in 1982, when FSU was working toward its dynasty by earning respect on the road. Behind the offensive line led by Dukes, the Seminoles won at Southern Miss, Ohio State, Miami, and South Carolina. Dukes was named a first-team freshman All-American by Football News.
The following year, Florida State won at LSU and Arizona State, and Football News again acknowledged Dukes by conferring upon him an All-America honorable mention. He was also recognized as a second-team All-South Independent honoree.
Dukes’ junior year of 1984 saw FSU collect wins at Miami, Arizona State, and South Carolina, as the Seminoles continued to build their reputation as kings of the road. Dukes further solidified himself as a reliable road-grader, improving to a second-team All-American for Football News and garnering an honorable mention from the AP. He was also a first-team All-South Independent choice.
Dukes cemented his Florida State legacy in 1985, when, as a senior, he was a consensus All-American after being named a first-teamer by Walter Camp and the Football Writers Association of America, a second-team selection by the AP and UPI, and a third-teamer per Football News. Oh yeah, he was a first-team All-South Independent choice, too.
Inexplicably, Dukes wasn’t drafted, but he proved doubters wrong by enjoying an 11-year NFL career, mostly with the Atlanta Falcons. He was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame in 1991 and in 2013, Dukes was named an ACC Legend.
Once Montrae Holland took over at right guard in the fifth game of his sophomore season (2000), he would not relinquish the position for the rest of his career. He became a three-year starter, registered a streak of 31 consecutive starts at offensive guard, and received progressively higher ACC honors every year he played at FSU. In 2000, he received ACC All-Conference Honorable Mention, All-ACC Second Team in 2001, and all-ACC First Team in 2002.
Holland, a Bowden pull from Jefferson, Texas, was born with a defect in his right leg, which he had corrected in seventh grade. Doctors had to break his right leg and fuse his growth plates together on both legs. That did not stop Holland from starring at Jefferson HS, where he played guard in football and was on the track team.
Once on campus, Holland was a backup at right guard his redshirt freshman year. During his sophomore campaign, he did not allow a sack and contributed to the team leading the nation in passing (384 yards per game) and scoring offense (42.4 points per game). Then as junior, he only allowed 2 sacks while starting every game at right guard.
In 2002 he earned 2nd-Team All-American honors from Sports Illustrated, 2nd-Team from the Associated Press, and 3rd-Team by the Sporting News.
Holland was selected in the 4th round by the New Orleans Saints where he spent the next 3 years, and then went on to play for the Broncos and Cowboys, playing a total of 99 NFL games.
The most decorated offensive lineman in Florida State football history, Rodney Hudson held things together along the FSU offensive line during its toughest stretch in modern history. Hudson came to Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles in 2007 from Mobile, Alabama, and immediately contributed on the left side of the line. Perhaps the greatest feather in OL coach Rick Trickett’s cap, he started 10 of 13 games that season and earned Freshman All-American and Second Team All-ACC honors.
From 2008-2010, Hudson was a First Team All-ACC performer. He won the Jacobs Trophy in 2009 and 2010, which is given to the conference’s best blocker. Hudson was also a First Team All-American in both of those years and was a Unanimous All-American during his senior season. Though he arrived at FSU during the height of the “Lost Decade” and the ‘Noles went just 33-20 during his four seasons in Tallahassee, fans can only imagine how much worse this stretch could have been without his presence as an absolute anchor on the left side of the offensive line.
Although slightly undersized at 6’2” and 285 pounds, Hudson constantly impressed his coaches and fellow players with his work ethic and natural ability. As Christian Ponder once said during Hudson’s senior year, “He’s definitely the best player on the team . . . Hardly says a word but goes out and takes care of business. A guy that never makes mistakes.” Jimbo Fisher added that Hudson was one of the best he had ever coached. Hudson graded out at an absurd 87% during his senior year and was only penalized once in over 800 snaps. Once! In fact, he was not penalized until 20 games into his college career.
Hudson was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He played center for the Chiefs for four seasons before signing with the Oakland Raiders in 2016. Hudson made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2016 and 2017 and another in 2019. Pro Football Focus called him the best pass-blocking center in the NFL and in 2019 he signed a contract making him the highest-paid center in the NFL. He was later traded to the Arizona Cardinals and is currently a free agent and debating retirement.
An unheralded recruit from Jesup, Georgia by way of Wayne County High School, Jackson chose FSU after decommitting from Georgia Tech right before National Signing Day 2011. He was on track to redshirt because freshman offensive lineman typically are not physically ready for high-level college football, but terrible injury luck had other plans. A ridiculous amount of injuries to FSU’s offensive line necessitated Jackson to burn his redshirt. He ended up on spot duty throughout 2011 until the Champs Sports Bowl, where he started every single snap in a victory over Notre Dame… and the rest is history.
Tre Jackson would proceed to start his next 42 games at Florida State helping to pave the way for three straight ACC titles, a national championship, and the highest scoring team in college football history. He did the dirty work up front for multiple star players, including FSU’s all-time leading rusher, a future pro-bowler for the Atlanta Falcons, a Heisman trophy winner, and FSU’s all-time leading wide receiver. Jackson got it done for all of them and while most offensive lineman never get the public recognition they deserve, the media took notice of what Tre Jackson accomplished.
In 2014, he was arguably the top guard in America and became one of only 35 players in FSU history to be named a consensus All-American. Take a look at this list of his 2014 accolades:
- Unanimous All-American
- All-ACC First Team (Media/Coaches)
- AFCA All-America First Team
- Associated Press All-America First Team
- Sporting News All-America First Team
- Walter Camp All-America First Team
- Sports Illustrated All-America First Team
- CBSSports.com All-America First Team
- USA Today All-America First Team
- SBNation.com All-America First Team
- Scout.com All-America First Team
After 2014 he was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He spent two years with the Patriots before being released in 2016 because of a knee injury that never got quite back to 100 percent.
To put it simply, Tre Jackson’s 2014 season was one of the best seasons an offensive lineman has ever had in Florida State history. Not bad for a three-star recruit from Georgia that many thought would be a better defensive tackle than guard.
Hailing from Winter Haven, Jason Kuipers suited up for the Seminoles between 1984 and 1988. After taking a redshirt season, he saw action in 12 games as a RS-FR during the 1985 season. Still a reserve to start the 1986 campaign, Kuipers found himself in the starting lineup against UNC and never looked back. He earned a Football News’ 3rd Team Sophomore All-American designation for his efforts.
Kuipers started every game in the 1987 and 1988 seasons, primarily at guard but also filling in at center for the first five games in 1988. His versatility was crucial for the Seminoles at the start of the Dynasty years, and it showed during award seasons. 1987 brought Kuipers a 2nd team All-South Independent and an AP All-American Honorable Mention. His senior season landed him a 1st team All-South Independent to go with another AP All-American Honorable Mention.
Kevin Long was a four-year letterman and two-year starter at FSU at the center position. He was responsible for calling all blocking schemes, was the team captain, and the only FSU lineman to start all 11 games as a senior in 1997.
Long played in all 11 games as freshman, primarily with second unit at C, RT and G positions. He saw action in 10 contests as sophomore and earned his first career start in the win over Notre Dame in the last game played in the old Orange Bowl Dump. During his junior year, Long earned honorable mention All-ACC selection, after starting 10 games and grading out at 80 percent.
As a senior in 1997 he earned First-Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference, 1st Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, 3rd team All-American by the Associated Press and Third Team All-American by the Football News. Long was also on the All-ACC Academic Team as a senior.
During his FSU career, Long was a 2-time Sugar Bowl champion in 1995 and 1998, and an Orange Bowl champion in 1996. Long went on to play in 63 NFL games with the Tennessee Titans during his four years in the NFL.
Signed as part of the 2011 recruiting class that would play a crucial role in FSU’s championship campaign two years later, Josue Matias proved to be a valuable piece of what would become one of the strongest offensive line units in Seminole history.
Born in the Dominican Republic and coming to Tallahassee by way of Union City, New Jersey, the 6’5”, 320 pound Matias saw action in six games during his freshman campaign. He was thrust into the starting lineup against Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl, in which the previously-referenced vaunted FSU offensive line was born.
Over the next three seasons, Matias would not relinquish his role at left guard. He started in all 42 games and quickly became known as a straight-up mauler, particularly devastating in the run game. He was intelligent, nasty, and steadfast in helping the FSU offense set records during his time in Tallahassee. He was named two-time 2nd team All-ACC in 2013 and 2014.
He was surprisingly undrafted but was signed by the Tennessee Titans, becoming the first Dominican-born player in NFL history. He played two seasons there and one year in the CFL, retiring from football in 2019 and pivoting to coaching. He is currently the Assistant Director of Sports Performance for football for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Tom McCormick originally came to Tallahassee without a scholarship in the fall of 1980 and his only duty as a walk-on was with scout and junior varsity teams. His scout team efforts drew the attention of the coaching staff and he was named defensive scout team MVP. The coaching staff elected to try him at center in 1981 and McCormick worked his way into the starting role after making improvements each day in spring and summer drills, impressing Bobby Bowden enough to receive a scholarship heading into the 1981 campaign.
That move was rewarded. Between 1981 and 1983, Tom McCormick was a stalwart on the Seminoles offensive line, starting all 35 games in which he played at center. Playing for Bay High in Panama City prior to his time in Tallahassee, McCormick provided consistency and tenacity for Bobby Bowden’s early 80’s squads. He was named a three-time All-South Independent 1st team performer and also earned Associated Press All-American honorable mentions in all three of his scholarship seasons.
The high point of McCormick’s FSU career was his junior season, in which the Seminoles finished with a 9-3 record and #13 final ranking. McCormick was vital opening lanes for the RB duo of Greg Allen and Ricky Williams. McCormick never weighed more than 242 pounds as a starter but was used his quickness and intelligence to win most of his battles.
After pursuing a professional football career for approximately two years, Tom returned to Florida State and worked as a student coach while completing his civil engineering degree. He later established an endowed scholarship fund for student athletes within the engineering program who do not have athletic scholarships.
Arguably amongst the greatest guards in Florida State history, Pat McNeil took the field from 1990-1994. He started 44 of the 51 games in which he played on some of the most talented teams during the Dynasty years, including all 13 games in FSU’s first championship season. Big #69 helped clear the way for Charlie Ward, Warrick Dunn, William Floyd, and the rest of the Seminole rushing attack with great technique and bruising efficiency.
In 1991 and 1992, McNeil was named to the first team Freshman and Sophomore All-American teams with a spot on the third team All-American following his junior year in 1993. In 1994, he was an All-American honorable mention by the United Press. He also earned All-ACC 2nd team as a sophomore and junior, and All-ACC 1st team as a senior. During his time at FSU, the ‘Noles went a perfect 5-0 in postseason bowl games.
Mike Morris Sr, from Miami Beach High, was an offensive lineman at FSU from 1987-91. Following a redshirt season to start off his time in garnet and gold, he was a starter at guard in 34 of the 36 games in which he played, providing tenacity and consistency on some extremely talented Seminole squads in the beginning of the Dynasty years.
In his junior season in 1990, Morris earned 1st Team All-South Independent honors. In 1991, he again earned 1st Team All-South Independent during his senior season, when he was also a team captain and considered one of the best interior linemen in the nation. During Morris’ five seasons in Tallahassee, the Seminoles won 53 games and never finished a season ranked lower than 4th in the nation.
After his playing career, he helped recruit kids to Tallahassee. Sadly, he could not convince his son to honor his commitment to FSU and the younger Morris wound up playing at Michigan.
Rarely does a long snapper receive any recognition for their performance when they do their job correctly. However, if a long snapper hikes the ball over the punter’s head or has a bad snap to the holder on a field goal attempt, everyone will know his name. Garrison Sanborn, thankfully, is remembered for his consistency as a Seminole.
Sanborn played his high school football at Jesuit in Tampa, where he excelled at long snapping starting with his freshman year. With some encouragement from kicker and fellow Jesuit alum Xavier Beitia, who was playing at Florida State at the time, Sanborn decided on FSU and arrived in Tallahassee in 2004, However, it was not smooth sailing at first.
Prior to the 2004 season, in which I would be a redshirt freshman, I was competing for the long snapper starting spot with a junior. I did very well and expected to be the No. 1 guy. However, the job was given to the junior. I was so upset about it that I talked with Coach Bowden. He said that I was a better individual player than the other guy, but because he was a junior, he would be the starter.
I was always under the impression that if you played the best, you’d be rewarded by having a starting position, but this experience ran contrary to that belief. It didn’t make sense to me, but, obviously, Coach Bowden knew how to run a football program.
Sanborn went on to log plenty of snaps as a Seminole and became one of FSU’s more stable performers during a difficult stretch for the program. After wrapping his career in Tallahassee, Sanborn went undrafted in 2008 despite being the number one draft-eligible snapper. He was signed by the Buffalo Bills in 2009 and did not miss a game in his his eight NFL seasons with the Bills, playing in all 128 straight games. He later went on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars for a couple of seasons.
The younger brother of former Seminole Stan Shiver arrived at FSU in 1991 from Tifton, Georgia. Clay Shiver stood 6’3” and weighed in at just 255 pounds. He’d redshirt, of course. As a greenhorn redshirt freshman in 1992, Shiver would start five games, sharing center duties with senior Robbie Baker. The team went 11-1 and earned a trip to the Orange Bowl.
By the time 1993 rolled around, Shiver weighed a very determined and yet somehow still lightweight 265 pounds. But he could snap the ball into the shotgun and a certain quarterback by the name of Charlie Ward was very good operating from the ‘gun. Over the span of 13 games and more than 700 offensive snaps that season, Shiver allowed just half a sack. Yes, you read that correctly. One-half. That’s .0007 sacks per snap.
The Seminole offense would score 40 or more points eight times that year, going 12-1 — dropping just a one-score game to Notre Dame — and winning a National Championship after outlasting Nebraska 18-16 in the Orange Bowl. Shiver was named a first team sophomore All-American by Football News, an Honorable Mention All-American by the United Press International, and to the All-ACC team. But here’s the thing — Shiver wasn’t done, and over the next two seasons he would rightfully become known for far more than just snapping to Ward.
Constant, grueling 5:00 am workouts paid dividends for the rising junior, and Shiver entered the 1994 campaign at a noticeably heftier 275 pounds. This time, he blocked for quarterback Danny Kanell. FSU would finish 10-1-1 as Shiver helped the Florida Gators choke on the turf in Tallahassee. He would be named a consensus All-American; four publications named him a first team All-American and the Associated Press would name him second team. He was again named to the All-ACC team, and he won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocker in the entire ACC Conference.
Then, as a 280-pound senior in 1995 and one of the best blockers on one of the best offenses in the country, he did it all again. FSU went 10-2 with the third best offense in the country, beat Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, and set a then-single season school record for offensive points in a season. Shiver was again named a consensus All-American — making him a two-time All-American — with multiple first and second team honors, All-ACC for the 3rd time, and back-to-back winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
FSU went 31-1 vs ACC opponents during Shiver’s collegiate career. He never lost at home in Doak Campbell Stadium. Former head coach Bobby Bowden described Shiver as “the best center that I’ve coached in 20 years at Florida State.” He was drafted 67th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1996 NFL Draft, the first Seminole off the board that year. He’d play in 44 games in three seasons, starting 25 of them before injuries derailed his career.
In 2001 Shiver was inducted into FSU’s Athletics Hall of Fame. He is currently the high school head coach of Boca Christian and teaches government and economics.
In 2013, Florida State’s undefeated national championship team scored an incredible 723 points on the season. Naturally, skill-position stars like Jameis Winston, Devonta Freeman, and Kelvin Benjamin dominated the headlines but the extravagant scoring began up front with the Seminoles’ offensive line, and its highest graded player: center Bryan Stork.
A tight end in high school at Vero Beach, Stork enrolled at FSU in 2009 at just 240 pounds. Many viewed him as an afterthought in an otherwise strong recruiting class. He redshirted and began adding mass, while earning some starts at each guard position in 2010 and early 2011 before claiming his spot in the middle. In 2012, Stork was recognized as a second-team All-ACC honoree.
A 40-game starter for the ’Noles, Stork was an important and often unheralded leader, keeping order in the huddle and helping QB E.J. Manuel with calls. In his redshirt-senior campaign of 2013, he put the rest of the country on notice as well. That year, he was a consensus All-American, a first-team All-ACC choice, and the winner of the Rimington Trophy, becoming the only ’Nole ever to capture the award given to the nation’s top center. He was also a finalist for the Outland Trophy, presented to the best interior lineman in college football.
The New England Patriots selected Stork in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and he capped his rookie season as a Super Bowl XLIX champion. He retired from playing in 2017 at age 26 and served as the tight ends coach at East Tennessee State University for several years. He then spent a year as the offensive line coach at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky.
Jason Whitaker made his way to Tallahassee from tiny Lynn Haven near Panama City Beach, rated as the fourth-best offensive tackle in Florida high school athletics. That ranking was well-earned, as Whitaker possessed a big long frame and quick feet. However, Florida State offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins moved Whitaker to offensive guard and he redshirted his freshman year in 1995.
Heggins knew what he was doing. Cutting an imposing figure at 6’5 and 300 pounds, Whitaker soon became known for his hard-nosed style and for playing through multiple injuries in his time in the Garnet and Gold. That’s what makes his ascent in the college football world so impressive. Despite playing right in the middle of FSU’s dynasty with some of the most talented teams in school history, it didn’t take Whitaker long to earn a starting spot, securing it just halfway through his redshirt freshman season in 1996. As a sophomore in ‘97 Whitaker built upon that early success and made the All-ACC second team.
It was as a junior and senior that Whitaker solidified his legacy as one of the greatest Seminole offensive linemen. He was named a first team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in 1998 as a junior and a third team All-American by the Associated Press. He was also named a member of the All-ACC Academic team, and a first-team All-ACC selection.
As a senior leader on FSU’s loaded 1999 team, opening running lanes for Travis Minor and blocking for quarterback Chris Weinke, Whitaker was named a consensus All-American by no less than six publications. They include the American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press, and the FWAA again. If it wasn’t for The Sporting News listing him as a second team All-American, Whitaker would have been a unanimous All-American. Of course, in 1999 FSU made history as the first team in NCAA history to go wire-to-wire No. 1, winning a national championship in an undefeated season. It was FSU’s 13th season finishing in the top five of the AP and Coaches Poll.
Despite the consensus All-American status, one of just 45 in school history, Whitaker went undrafted by the NFL. He later pursued a career in coaching.
Del Williams helped clear paths for Seminole running backs for three years, from 1964 to 1966. Williams was the only sophomore to start every game during Florida State’s celebrated 1964 season that saw the Seminoles beat Florida for the first time. Among the coaches to whom Williams became closest that year? A young offensive assistant named Bobby Bowden.
For his first two years the Live Oak native played tackle, but achieved his biggest notoriety upon switching to guard in 1966. Williams played in the Gator and Sun Bowls and following his final season, played in the Coaches’ All-American game. He also became the first Seminole picked to play in the East-West Shrine game.
In 1966, Del Williams was awarded the Tallahassee Quarterback Club’s trophy as most valuable Seminole player. That season he was also named 2nd team All-American by NEA, UPI, and AP. In his senior year, Miami Herald sports editor Edwin Pope wrote of Del, “He is one of the best pulling guards I have ever seen.”
After graduation, Williams started at guard, tackle, and center from 1967 to 1973 for the New Orleans Saints. He sadly passed away in 1984 from Lou Gehrig’s disease, but was able to endow a scholarship at FSU prior to his death. Said Bowden prior to Williams’ funeral, “He probably had as much courage as anybody I ever saw on the football field. He was tenderhearted off the field, but out on that field he would work you over, wear you out and bury you. He was afraid of nothing.”
Who are the top four interior offensive linemen in FSU history?
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
Offensive Tackles: Walter Jones, Alex Barron, Pat Tomberlin, Cam Erving