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

The Tomahawk Nation community has spoken!

Florida State Seminoles Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images

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’ linebackers, 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 linebackers.

Who are the top four linebackers in FSU history?

Derrick Brooks (94.7%)

Derrick Brooks came to Florida State as one of the most heralded recruits ever and left FSU having set a new standard for his outside linebacker position.

A two-time consensus All-American and an NFL first round draft choice in 1995, Brooks was a dominating linebacker who was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year as a junior in 1994 and was a three-time All-ACC first team selection during his career. His ability to run like a receiver and make plays like a defensive back made him one of the most exciting players in all of college football.

Brooks earned four varsity letters (1991-94) and was the defensive leader on Florida State’s first national championship team in 1993. He recorded 274 career tackles and was a finalist for the Butkus, Lombardi, and Football Writer’s National Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and senior.

Brooks was also a top scholar-athlete who won an NCAA post-graduate scholarship and earned Academic All-America honors following his senior season. He was a GTE Academic All-American second team selection and named the ACC All-Academic team as a junior.

He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 28th overall pick of the 1995 NFL Draft, and eventually was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 when he again led Tampa Bay with 173 tackles, registered a career-high five interceptions (three of which were returned for TDs), 15 passes defensed, one fumble recovery, and one sack. He was a major contributor in the Bucs’ victory in Super Bowl XXXVII where he had three tackles, one pass defensed, and one interception returned 44 yards for a TD against the Oakland Raiders.

via and the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame

Marvin Jones (92.9%)

Marvin Jones was one of the finest linebackers in the history of college football. In 1992, Jones became the first Florida State player to capture two national awards in the same year when he earned both the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker and the Lombardi Award signifying the nation’s top linemen.

A stunning combination of speed, strength, and instinct, Jones terrorized FSU opponents. He was called the finest linebacker in college football history by a number of experts over his FSU career. Nicknamed “Shade Tree” after resting under one following an early FSU practice his freshmen year, Jones went on to become such an intense competitor that opposing offenses all but conceded running the ball up the middle on the Tribe.

Jones tallied 111 tackles and seven tackles for a loss as a junior in 1992, while leading the Seminoles to an 11-1 record. He made 10 or more tackles in nine games and finished fourth in the balloting for the 1991 Heisman Trophy. Jones finished his career a two-time Consensus All-American and a first team All-ACC choice in 1992.

Jones was selected with the fourth pick of the 1992 draft following his junior season by the New York Jets. At that time, it was the highest an FSU player had ever been selected in the NFL draft.


Sam Cowart (36.7)

Sam Cowart came to Florida State after a great career at Mandarin High in Jacksonville and earned a place in the Seminole Hall of Fame with his great linebacker play. Cowart was a finalist for both the Butkus and Bronko Nagurski awards as a senior in 1997 leading the Seminoles with 116 tackles. He was a Consensus All-American and was Football News’ National Defensive Player of the Year. Cowart’s spectacular senior year was even more impressive considering he overcame reconstructive knee surgery following the 1995 season. He sat out 1996 and earned the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award as a senior for overcoming hardship. Cowart led a ‘97 FSU defense that set a school record after allowing an average of just 1.5 yards per rush. His defense allowed an average of only 51.9 rushing yards a game and gave up just 571 yards on the ground all season. Cowart also led FSU in tackles as a junior in 1995 with 115 and totaled 338 tackles over his career. The Buffalo Bills selected Cowart in the second round of the 1998 Draft and he played eight years in the NFL. He earned All-Pro honors with the Bills in 2000 and also played for the NY Jets (2002-04) and Minnesota Vikings (2005).


Paul McGowan (33.7%)

Middle linebacker Paul McGowan forged a name for himself with consistent play and ferocious tackling that eventually distinguished him as Florida State’s first Butkus Award winner.

McGowan, a native of Winter Park, FL was a terror for four seasons in the Seminole defense from 1984-87. While fans cheered his ability to stop ballcarriers with bone-jarring tackles, coaches marveled at his sound fundamentals and dependability.

McGowan would mold an emerging Florida State defense into one of the country’s most feared units, leading the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons. His 14 tackle performance against Nebraska as a sophomore brought Associated Press player of the week honors to a young McGowan who proceeded to become one of the finest defenders in the nation.

When Paul McGowan accepted the Butkus Trophy signifying the nation’s top linebacker, he became the first Seminole to take home a national award. He ushered in an era that saw FSU’s defense join the offense in national stature.


The rest of the top ten:

  • Ernie Sims (31.4%)
  • Telvin Smith (18.8%)
  • Kirk Carruthers (12.3%)
  • Nigel Bradham (10.6%)
  • Daryl Bush (8.3%)

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