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Mount Rushmore Mondays: Which four FSU tight ends belong?

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

Florida State v Clemson

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 tight ends. Check out a brief description under each player or click on their names 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!

Ed Beckman

Beckman arrived at FSU during coach Larry Jones’ final year and subsequently endured two coaching changes (Darryl Mudra and Bobby Bowden) during his FSU career.

Beckman became a starter for the last three games of Mudra’s tenure. He went on to start all 11 games in 1976 during Bowden’s first year as head coach, and the move paid off when Beckman lead the team in receptions, finished second in touchdown receptions, and second in receiving yards. For his performance that year, he earned an All-American honorable mention.

Beckman played his entire eight year NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs (1977–1984) and later became the special teams coach of the Chiefs in 1987.

Pat Carter

Pat Carter, from Sarasota, Florida, was a four-year letterman for the Seminoles during an important stretch in program history, from 1984-1987, a span of time leading up to and beginning the dynasty from ’87-2001. Carter, an outstanding blocker with reliable hands, was instrumental in improving the ’Noles from seven wins in his first season to an 11-1 record in his last. 1987 saw FSU finish second in the AP Poll, its highest final ranking in school history to that point.

Carter’s individual accolades began in his junior season, when he was an honorable mention AP All-American and first team All-South Independent honoree in 1986. He followed that up by improving to a second-team AP selection in his senior year, when The Sporting News recognized him as a first-team All-American. Legendary coach Bobby Bowden took it a step further, calling Carter “the best tight end in the United States,” after Florida State’s 34-6 road drubbing of eventual SEC champion Auburn. “He is just a natural. They don’t keep statistics on his blocking,” Bowden continued, after FSU rang up 223 yards rushing on the vaunted run defense of the previously undefeated Tigers. Until Nick O’Leary captured consensus All-America honors in 2014, Carter was the only Seminole TE ever to be named a first-team All-American.

A 44-game starter who was undefeated in four bowl games, Carter finished his FSU career with 71 catches for 777 yards and seven scores, and that doesn’t even count the 15 catches for another 150 or so yards in his bowl games.

The Detroit Lions made Carter the first Seminole off the board in the 1988 NFL Draft when they chose him in the second round. He had a solid 10-year NFL career before serving as an assistant coach. In 2015, Carter was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame.

Joe Goldsmith

During Joe Goldsmith’s first three seasons at FSU, he played wide receiver, flanker, and returned 29 kickoffs for 538 yards (an 18.6 yard average).

In 1974 he switched to tight end, and the move produced immediate dividends when he led the team with 42 receptions for 525 yards and two touchdowns. He finished his FSU career with 61 catches for 958 yards receiving, and 5 touchdown receptions.

Ryan Izzo

One of the top tight ends in the ACC during his time in Tallahassee, Izzo finished his career with 54 catches for 761 yards and 6 touchdowns. He had the unenviable job of trying to fill Nick O’Leary’s shoes and proved to be a reliable target and a tremendous blocker in his own right. Seriously, Dalvin Cook loves this dude.

Izzo has a freshman all-American honorable mention and preseason Mackey Award watchlist honor to his name. In 2017, Izzo caught a two-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter of Florida State’s tremendous, season-opening comeback win over No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando, finishing with three receptions for 41 yards against the Rebels. He also scored on a career-long 60-yard catch and run from James Blackman at Clemson, tied for the longest reception of the year.

Lonnie Johnson

Taking over the tight end mantle from Reggie Johnson, Lonnie Johnson finished his career with 43 catches for 555 yards and 10 touchdowns from 1990-1993.

His breakout season came in 1991, when he caught 22 balls for 293 yards and four touchdowns. One of those scores was this beautiful catch and run against Tulane.

His final season coincided with FSU’s first National Championship, seeing Johnson haul in 13 catches for 182 yards and four touchdowns. He also blocked a punt against the Kansas Jayhawks, which Clifton Abraham recovered for a touchdown.

Reggie Johnson

Reggie Johnson tallied 52 catches for 544 yards from 1987-1990, the beginning of FSU’s Dynasty era.

I’m a team player,” Johnson said. “I just want the ball more so I can feel like I’m doing my part for the team. I’m not a ‘me’ player. I don’t think about the individual. I think about the team. They should want me to have the ball more. Not getting the ball bothers me a lot, but it’s only frustration. It’s not the kind of thing that I’ll run to the coach and complain about.

Draft analyst Mel Kiper agrees. Kiper rates Johnson No. 4 behind Chris Smith of Brigham Young, Tim Bruton of Missouri and Jerry Evans of Toledo.

“He would be rated even higher if Florida State threw him the ball more often,” Kiper said. Physically, Johnson is a lot like Keith Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s 6 feet 2, 250 pounds and runs 4.6 in the 40. But the Seminoles seldom throw to him.

Reggie was drafted in the second round by the Denver Bronco’s and enjoyed a seven-year NFL career.

Camren McDonald

A four-star recruit out of the famed Long Beach Poly High in California, McDonald arrived in Tallahassee during a time of upheaval and coaching change within the program which stunted his early success. But after just six receptions for 43 yards in his first two years combined, McDonald made a significant jump in his third year on campus, going for 23 receptions for 263 yards and two touchdowns, including six for 58 and a score against Miami.

McDonald produced another 243 yards and two scores his redshirt junior season before closing out his career with a career best 312 yards on nearly 15 yards a grab in 2022. McDonald recorded 2+ catches in eight games during both his junior and senior seasons.

For his career, McDonald started 30 games and hauled in 74 receptions for 861 yards and five touchdowns. In May of this year, the Green Bay Packers signed McDonald as an undrafted free agent.

Nick O’Leary

FSU’s first-ever Mackey Award winner? Check.

Consensus All-American honors? Check.

Grandson of Jack Nicklaus? Check.

For his career, O’Leary had 114 receptions for 1,591 yards and 17 touchdowns in 51 appearances. While he holds the career receptions, yardage, and touchdowns record for any FSU tight end, his impact on the field went far beyond his stats. He was a devastating blocker and played an important part in the Seminoles’ devastating rushing attack. A throwback player, O’Leary refused to wear gloves and was one of the hardest workers on a team full of them.

A vital part of the Seminoles’ 2013 National Championship squad, O’Leary’s junior season was crucial. He caught three touchdowns from Jameis Winston in FSU’s opening romp over the Pittsburgh Panthers, but his shining moment came when he set Florida State records for a tight end with 161 receiving yards and a 94-yard reception in the Noles’ 51-14 victory at then-No. 3 Clemson. Remember this?

The next season, O’Leary developed into a bona-fide top pass-catching threat, ranking second on the Seminoles in receptions (48), yards (618) and receiving scores (six). He had four catches for 52 yards and two second-quarter touchdowns against Florida, gutting yet another bitter rival. He also did this to a Louisville defender, and might do it to you, too, if you don’t vote for him.

Gary Parris

A product of Vero Beach High School where he earned 15 varsity letters across four sports, Parris was a three-year letterman and two-year starter for FSU from 1970-1972. A good blocker and still one of the school’s better receiving tight ends, Parris was a favorite target of legendary FSU QB Gary Huff.

His senior year was particularly noteworthy as Parris was the second-leading receiver on the team behind only the great WR Barry Smith, hauling in 49 passes for 629 yards and four touchdowns. For his efforts in 1972, Parris earned first team All-South Independent honors.

His career totals were an impressive 82 catches for 1125 yards and five touchdowns in just 29 games played. For comparison, Rod Owens finished his Seminoles career with 1,080 yards and 4 touchdowns on 91 receptions.

Parris continued his success on Sundays, playing eight years in the NFL with the Chargers, Browns, and Cardinals. In 2004, Parris was named Indian River County Athlete of the Century.

Melvin Pearsall

Melvin Pearsall earned All-ACC honors in two consecutive seasons under Bobby Bowden, as an Honorable Mention in 1996 and a first-team choice the following year.

“Pearsall is a talent,” FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. “He really can catch the ball and run with it.”

Pearsall was a significant red-zone weapon. By the time he left Tallahassee, his 11 touchdown receptions set a then-FSU record for career scores among tight ends.

Thurston Taylor

Taylor had his best season in 1966 when he finished behind star WR Ron Sellers in receiving yards while scoring three touchdowns on 28 catches for 366 yards.

After playing offensive tackle his sophomore year, Taylor moved to tight end and started the next 22 games during his junior and senior seasons. In the 30 games he played, Taylor had 53 receptions for 623 yards, with four touchdowns. Thurston also punted eight times for 327 yards, a 40.9 yard average.

Jim Tyson

Tyson was the first FSU tight end to earn All-South Independent honors in 1969 after having the best season by a Seminole tight end to that point in history.

His 49 receptions for 720 yards and four touchdowns made him the Seminoles’ leading pass catcher that season, and he also finished with the most yards from scrimmage.

During Tyson’s career at FSU, he caught 80 passes for 1204 yards and nine touchdowns. Those numbers are not too shabby for a Seminole tight end in the late 60’s.

Who are the top four tight ends 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