The Florida State Seminoles’ rise to a college football blueblood is almost fairytale-like. Despite the fact that the team had the likes of Burt Reynolds and Lee Corso in the 1950s, it really wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s and the arrival of one Bobby Bowden.
Back in his early days as FSU head coach, Bowden would play anybody and, eventually, it paid off. He elevated the program to one of the best in the country and, along the way, helped produce some of the best players in college football.
When it came to narrowing down the list of the best Seminoles, it was tough. However, the men on this list represented the program well throughout their college careers. From Heisman winners to All-Americans, here are the 10 best Florida State Seminoles football players of all time.
10. Jameis Winston, quarterback
Jameis Winston was the last Seminole quarterback to lead the school to a national championship under then-head coach Jimbo Fisher. Winston wasn’t initially considered a dual-threat quarterback, but he became one. He could hurt you with his legs as well as his arm. In his Heisman year of 2013, Winston threw for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. He not only won the most prestigious award in college football but was ACC Offensive Player of the Year, a unanimous All-American, won both the Davey O’Brien and Maxwell awards, and brought home a national title to Tallahassee.
9. Jalen Ramsey, cornerback
Jalen Ramsey continued the tradition of great Florida State Seminoles cornerbacks. The two-time All-American made the first-team All-ACC team twice and was part of Jimbo Fisher’s 2013 national championship squad. Like Deion Sanders before him, no one wanted to throw the ball near Ramsey. He ended his FSU career with 181 total tacks, five sacks, and three interceptions. Ramsey ended up being the first-round draft choice of the Jacksonville Jaguars and has had a strong NFL career so far.
8. Andre Wadsworth, defensive end
Coming out of high school, Andre Wadsworth was not highly recruited. In fact, the only team at the time that offered him a scholarship was Stoney Brook. He eventually walked on at FSU where he would later earn a full-time ride. Wadsworth switched from defensive tackle to defensive end and became a monster at that position. In his senior year, he registered 59 tackles and 16 quarterback sacks. Wadsworth received second-team All-ACC honors during his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons (1994–1996) as a defensive tackle. He is also an All-American and was selected ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 1997.
7. Terrell Buckley, cornerback
Terrell Buckley followed the likes of Deion Sanders at that position and left as the school’s all-time leader in interceptions (21) and interception return yards (501). His career interception yardage total of 501 is an NCAA record. Buckley also tied school records for touchdowns off interception returns (four) and punt returns (three). He was named first-team All-American and won the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s top cornerback. A three-star athlete, he also ran track and played baseball for the Noles. Buckley has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
6. Peter Warrick. wide receiver
The best wide receiver in Seminoles history is, no doubt, Peter Warrick. Warrick put up some amazing numbers at wide receiver for the Seminoles. A two-time All-American, he made first-team All-ACC team three times and is a Sugar Bowl MVP. Warrick’s best year was 1998 when he had over 1,200 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He ended his career with the Noles with 32 touchdowns and over 3,500 receiving yards.
5. Derrick Brooks, linebacker
Perhaps the most decorated linebacker in Seminoles history, other than Andre Wadsworth, is Derrick Brooks. Brooks was not only part of Bobby Bowden’s first national championship team but is a two-time All-American, Lambert Award winner, and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He finished his career with 274 tackles, five interceptions, 8.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. He would go on to have a stellar career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, helping them secure their first Super Bowl victory. Brooks has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
4. Dalvin Cook, running back
Perhaps the most prolific rusher in Seminoles history, Dalvin Cook is a national champion, two-time All-American, and made first-team All-ACC twice. In three years as a starter, Cook rushed for 1,000 yards all three seasons, with his best year coming in 2016 when he rushed for over 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also was pretty good at catching the ball, with one touchdown and nearly 500 yards receiving that same season. Cook would end his college career with nearly 4,500 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns.
3. Chris Weinke, quarterback
When you talk about Seminole greats, Chris Weinke’s name doesn’t come up enough. He was one of the best quarterbacks to play for the Seminoles, full stop. Weinke entered FSU at 25 years old, a time when most college athlete’s careers have ended. As a senior in 2000, he led the nation in passing with 4,167 yards and won the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award, and Johnny Unitas Award. Weinke was also named ACC Offensive Player of the Year and ACC Player of the Year that season. To this day, Weinke holds numerous FSU records including career passing yards and career touchdown passes.
2. Deion Sanders, cornerback
It might be shocking that Deion Sanders is not No. 1 on this list, but it’s not because he isn’t deserving. Sanders is a two-time unanimous All-American, Jim Thrope Award winner, and was a three-star athlete with the Noles who also ran track and played baseball. Sanders was arguably the face of FSU for many years and helped set the tone for the championships ahead. His play, as well as his flamboyance, attracted many future Seminoles to the program. But make no mistake, that didn’t take away from his talent on the field as well. Bobby Bowden said Sanders was the “best athlete he had ever coached.”
1. Charlie Ward, quarterback
Charlie Ward is not only the greatest Florida State Seminoles quarterback but might also be the greatest two-star athlete the school has ever produced. We put him at No. 1 because he helped lead Florida State and head coach Bobby Bowden to their first national championship in 1993. Ward won the 1993 Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Davey O’Brien Award as the best QB in the country. He threw for over 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns and he also rushed for 339 yards and four scores that season. Ward was also an All-American, ACC Offensive Player of the Year and two-time ACC Athlete of the Year. Rather than go to the NFL, Ward decided to play in the NBA where he had a long career, mostly with the New York Knicks.