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Florida State Mount Rushmore: Staff picks for top four FSU linebackers

Tomahawk Nation contributors give their versions of the Mount Rushmore of FSU greats, position by position.

University of North Carolina vs Florida State University Set Number: X44952 TK3 R3 F18

Who are the top four all-time Florida State linebackers?

Yesterday, we posted a poll for the Tomahawk Nation community to kick off the debate, with the final poll results coming Wednesday to reveal the Mount Rushmore of FSU linebackers.

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 Seminoles 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 linebackers in FSU history?


Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Paul McGowan, Sam Cowart

If you asked Victor Frankenstein to create the ideal college football linebacker of the early 90’s, the result would still be inferior to Marvin Jones.

Derrick Brooks has a spot on my Mount Rushmore for linebackers as well as for humanitarians. And probably for commercials:

Paul McGowan was a trailblazer with outstanding production, leadership, and reliability in a pivotal era for the FSU program.

I really had a tough time with that fourth spot. Major props to so many of these guys, but it came down to Herring and Cowart. I gave it to Cowart due to his remarkable injury comeback and because I loved seeing a LB rock the #1 jersey.


My four LB’s for the FSU Mount Rushmore would be:

A) Paul McGowan because he had 446 career tackles and 32 tackles for loss, three consecutive first-team All-South Independent honors, and a first-team All-American according to the AP, The Sporting News, and Football News.

2) Kirk Carruthers because by the time he left Tallahassee, he had racked up 435 total tackles, 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles and four interceptions. Not bad for an undersized linebacker.

D) Derrick Brooks, because among other reasons, in the game following the moral victory known as the Choke at Doak, he sealed the victory over the Gators in the Sugar Bowl by intercepting a Wuerffel pass in the final minute, giving FSU another Top Five ranking for an unprecedented eighth consecutive year.

Shade Tree) Since I have to pick a fourth player, I went with Marvin Jones because he is the brother of Fred Jones and the uncle of Fredrick Jones.

Matt Minnick:

Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Paul McGowan, Reggie Herring

For the first time since running backs, there were three guys who were no doubters. Shade Tree, Brooks, and McGowan were all violent, intelligent, and fearless leaders who brought bad intentions when they arrived at the ball carrier. In short, they were Mickey Andrews’ defenses personified.

For the 4th slot I was down to Cowart, Carruthers, and Herring. Any of the three are worthy selections (in fact, you could make a solid argument for about 5 other guys too). And don’t get me wrong, for a moment I thought about going with Carruthers just for his friendly welcome to Gino Torretta to open the 1989 Miami game. Stick around for the replay of this one:

But in the end I went with Herring. Statistically speaking, Herring is one of the best we’ve ever had, racking up 450 tackles in his final three years including an eye-popping 170 in 1980. And speaking of 1980, that defense is arguably FSU’s best ever and Herring was in the middle of all of it. Perhaps his best performance was the 14 tackles (11 solo) he had against third ranked Nebraska in a program changing game that Bobby Bowden himself called the best road win during his legendary career. Haven’t seen that game and hungry for some football here on the precipice of the new season? Check out this 39 minute “no huddle” version:

Perry K:

Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Sam Cowart, Paul McGowan

Somebow making this week’s connections was both easy and hard — perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

Jones was an absolute terror on the football field, unmatched in his era, while Brooks has every single accolade you could ask for and then some.

The last two spots for me are earned by Cowart and McGowan, each who have the stats and legacy-defining accolades and moments to solidify their spot.

But man, you could have thrown any number of players from an era in that slot and you’d be justified in doing so. And the results right now (yes, I am bragging about gatekeeping knowledge) indicate that it’s gonna be a tight finish.

My honorable mention, for nothing other than vibes? Reggie Northrup, robot king:


Jon Loesche:
Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Sam Cowart, Paul McGowan

Marvin Jones the free bingo square for this article and is the arguement to be put on the entire FSU Mount Rushmore.

Much like prior entrant Warrick Dunn, Derrick Brooks’ playing career has been equaled by his many fantastic off the field accomplishments.

Sam Cowart’s career accolades alone would earn him a spot on this list but his return in 1997 after the horrific injury he sustained in the 1996 Orange Bowl is the stuff legends are made of.

Paul McGowan is a player that gets lost in the shuffle of FSU history but had a very worthy career as a Seminole.

Juan Montalvo:

Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Sam Cowart, and Tommy Polley

Prior to waxing poetic about some of my personal favorite Noles, I want to remind our readers of some FSU LB history that is more outside the lines than it is about listing four names on the shirt. Mickey Andrews and Bobby Bowden both talked, as did many pundits and football historians, about how Florida State brought in athletes with defensive back speed and put them at linebacker. It was, much like the Fast Break offense, a game changer for college football.

There’s no coincidence that less than a decade later saw the Mumme/Leach tree spread into the major ranks at Oklahoma (and stop the dynasty). FSU, as it did with passing offense in the Bill Peterson days, was a home of football revolution in the 80’s and 90’s. Mickey moved away from 3-4 with huge outside linebackers to a shifted 4-3. Brad Scott and Mark Richt moved to a shotgun offense with tempo. It became a basis for the next 2-3 decades of the game. We as Seminole fans have much to be proud of.

Who are the top four linebackers in FSU history?

Previous staff picks


Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Tackles

Interior Offensive Linemen

Defensive Ends

Defensive Tackles

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