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Florida State Mount Rushmore: Who was voted as a top all-time cornerback?

The Tomahawk Nation community has spoken!

University of Miami vs Florida State University

So, who made the cut this week?

To help the off-season pass a bit faster, we’ve been determining 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.

On Monday, we posted a poll for the Tomahawk Nation community to choose your top four all-time Seminoles’ cornerbacks, and yesterday, presented the choices from some of our staff and contributors.

Today — the results. The Tomahawk Nation community has spoken!

Without further ado, we present to you the Mount Rushmore of FSU cornerbacks.

Who are the top four cornerbacks in FSU history?

Terrell Buckley (95.5%)

Terrell Buckley, a defensive back from Pascagoula, Miss., entered the vaunted FSU program with a confidence that he would display throughout his career. Buckley was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball and track). He was the only football player in Mississippi to earn 5A all-state honors two consecutive years. As a senior, Buckley was rated one of the top high school defensive backs in the nation. He averaged better than 30 yards per punt return and returned seven for touchdowns while nabbing a school-record 30 interceptions.

He was among a few 1989 signees to see action in his rookie season and he ranked ninth in the nation in punt returns and saw significant time at cornerback. Buckley became a consensus All-America choice and one of the nation’s top defensive players by 1991. Buckley was also named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award presented to the best defensive back in college football.

During his career, Buckley established a new NCAA record for career interception return yardage with 501 yards, a record that was set in the 1970s.

After three successful seasons at FSU, Buckley opted to enter the NFL draft early and, in 1992, became the 5th overall pick to the Green Bay Packers. He enjoyed 13 seasons in the NFL.


Deion Sanders (93.4%)

If there was a quintessential athlete, a guy everybody wants, someone who is so unique that his nearly indescribable, then that athlete would be Deion Sanders.

Deion proved from the start at Florida State he would be something special. As a freshman, Sanders started in the Seminoles’ secondary, played outfield on the baseball team which finished 5th in the nation, and led the track team to its 10th conference championship.

Sanders, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back as a senior in 1988, is considered by many to be the finest cover corner in the history of college football. Sanders’ man-to-man coverage skills and propensity to make the game changing play were so pronounced that over much of his junior and senior seasons he rarely was challenged in the passing game. Sanders finished 9th nationally with five interceptions in nine games as a senior and that does not include his dramatic final career play in which he intercepted an Auburn pass in the FSU end zone to preserve the Seminoles win over the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl.

Sanders is still tied for second on FSU’s career interception list with 14 and had three more in bowl games that did not count in career totals at the time. He had four career interception returns for a touchdown that still remains tied with Terrell Buckley for the school record. Sanders was also one of the finest punt returners in NCAA history. He led the nation in punt returns as a senior averaging 15.2.

Earning letters in track and field, baseball and football, Sanders is one of the greatest athletes in NCAA history. He earned All-America honors as a sprinter on FSU’s 4X100 relay team and played in the College World Series as an outfielder on the baseball team. Florida State retired his #2 football number in 1995 making him the fourth in Seminole history to be so honored.

Sanders signed a baseball contract with the Atlanta Braves prior to his senior year in football and eventually played in the 1992 World Series with the Braves hitting .533 despite playing with a broken bone in his foot. He played in two Super Bowls one each with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.


Corey Sawyer (33%)

Hailing from the southernmost city in the continental U.S. (that’s Key West for those of you who played paper football in geography class), Corey Sawyer arrived at FSU in 1990. Sawyer would redshirt his first year, before seeing limited action the following year, while learning from FSU legend Terrell Buckley.

By the end of the season, Sawyer totaled seven interceptions—still tied for 5th most in a single FSU campaign—and 488 yards on punt returns at nearly 15 yards per pop. But perhaps what he was becoming most known for was his propensity for making the spectacular INT look routine. In fact, he had so many diving interceptions that season that despite snatching seven, he had a grand total of zero return yards! That’s right, zero. Despite that, or perhaps because of his unique ability, Sawyer earned second team All-American status following the 1992 season.

At the conclusion of the 1993 season, Sawyer was both a national champion and a consensus first team All-American. He grabbed six more interceptions when QBs were foolish enough to throw his way, giving him 13 in his career. That puts him in 5th place at Florida State, despite playing just 26 games. During his final two seasons, Sawyer led a Seminoles secondary allowing fewer than 190 yards/game through the air, while holding opposing QBs to under 48% completion percentage.

Sawyer went on to be selected in the 4th round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he spent the next five seasons playing cornerback and returning kicks. Sawyer would play his final season with the Jets in 1999 before ending his NFL career.

Bobby Butler (29.6%)

Although Delray Beach’s Bobby Butler was just 5-10 and 163 pounds when he wore the Garnet and Gold, he was a big man in the Seminoles secondary. During his four-year career that spanned from 1977 until 1980, he literally covered Seminole territory. His 11 interceptions rank seventh on FSU’s career list despite opponents who consistently steered clear of him. In his senior year, Butler received his due recognition when the Associated Press picked him to the third team on its annual All-American squad.

During Butler’s four years at Florida State, the Seminoles were 39-8 and played in three bowl games, including the 1980 and 1981 Orange Bowls.

When Butler put his football cleats away in the fall, he donned track cleats for the spring season, running the sprinting events and helping Florida State’s track team to a third place finish nationally in 1980.

The Atlanta Falcons made him their first round draft pick in 1981.


The rest of the top ten:

  • Xavier Rhodes (27.9%)
  • JT Thomas (23.1%)
  • Lee Corso (20%)
  • Clifton Abraham (14.5%)
  • Samari Rolle (12.4%)
  • Greg Reid (11.6%)

So there you have it, folks.

What do you think about these choices? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to vote each week for your top four choices for each position group.

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

Offensive Tackles: Walter Jones, Alex Barron, Pat Tomberlin, Cam Erving

Interior Offensive Linemen: Rodney Hudson, Jamie Dukes, Bryan Stork, Clay Shiver

Defensive Ends: Peter Boulware, Andre Wadsworth, Reinard Wilson, Derrick Alexander

Defensive Tackles: Ron Simmons, Darnell Dockett, Corey Simon, Timmy Jernigan

Linebackers: Derrick Brooks, Marvin Jones, Sam Cowart, Paul McGowan