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Brendan Bures | | August 29, 2014

Pillars of the Program: Florida State

Pillars of the Program: Florida State football

The top three pillars of the program are in the video above -- now check out who just missed the cut ...

Florida State built its name in the 1990s. Two national championships, two Heisman winners and a stretch between 1987-2000 where FSU finished ranked in the AP top five each season. The program, for better or worse, characterizes itself by those years. And those years couldn’t happen without these players.

Charlie Ward
Quarterback | 1989-93
♦ 1993 Heisman Trophy
♦ Career: 5,747 pass yds., 49 TDs
Deion Sanders
Defensive Back | 1985-88
♦ 1988 Thorpe Award winner
♦ Two-time All-American (1987-88)
Fred Biletnikoff
Receiver | 1962-64
♦ All-American (1964)
♦ Career: 100 rec., 1,655 yds., 20 TDs
Derrick Brooks
Linebacker | 1991-94
♦ Two-time All-American (1993-94)
♦ Career: 274 tackles, 8.5 sacks
Terrell Buckley
Defensive Back | 1989-91
♦ 1991 Thorpe Award
♦ All-American (1991)
Warrick Dunn
Running Back | 1993-96
♦ Career: school-record 3,959 rush yds., 1,314 rec. yds., 49 total TDs
Peter Warrick
Receiver | 1995-99
♦ All-American (1998-99)
♦ Career: 207 rec., 3,517 yds., 32 TDs
Chris Weinke
Quarterback | 1997-2000
♦ 2000 Heisman Trophy
♦ Career: 9,839 pass yds., 79 TDs

Derrick Brooks
Brooks might be the most properly rated player in FSU history. Fans remember him as one of the greats, but not greatest to play with the Seminoles. Brooks doesn’t quite pop like other players on this list, but he had speed like a rusher, could hit with the best of linebackers and could cover close like a corner when needed. He was consistent; the defensive rock to FSU’s 1993 national championship team and also winning the ACC defensive player of the year award that same year.

Brooks is remembered in his college career as the reliable man at linebacker, simultaneously guiding and eliminating traffic. He established such a reputation, that he commanded near half the field while on it. Because of this, his numbers and lack of “moments” let down his story a little, but he was a constant threat to attack and as a result, his presence was always felt on the field.

Terrell Buckley
Before we explain the Buckley pick, let's admire his closing then breakaway speed against Michigan in 1991.

Consider Buckley the critics’ choice to Deion Sanders’ "Prime Time" act; the Mad Men to his Modern Family if you will. To be clear, the pair never played together, but are inextricably linked because Buckley entered FSU as Sanders exited.

Here’s the thing: Buckley had more interceptions (21) than Sanders (14) and holds the NCAA record for interception return yards (501). They are tied for INT touchdown returns (4) and punt returns for TD (3). Whatever shine Sanders started for FSU, Buckley solidified it. After Sanders’ bricks were laid, Buckley’s mortar established Florida State as a premiere home for elite defensive backs.

Warrick Dunn
With that back flap of his shoulder pads usually flopping out, it was almost like Dunn wanted defenders to try to grab him, to arm-tackle him. Dunn wasn’t a trash-talker like other Seminoles, but that flap out was his aesthetic flaunt, his dare, because Dunn knew few could pull him down; tackling Dunn required the full force and body of a defender.

Dunn undoubtedly is the best running back in Seminoles history, with a rare mix of assertive acceleration and toughness. Dunn is the only Nole to exceed a 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons and holds the record for season and career rushing totals. Dunn's numbers unwittingly cast a shadow over future FSU backs, as no Nole passed a 1,000 yards until 2013, when Devonta Freeman totaled 1,016 yards, effectively ending the “curse.”

Peter Warrick
Weinke’s second greatest secret wasn’t really a secret; it was Warrick. (Although we would like to point out that secrets are quiet by definition and Warrick was very loud in more ways than one.)

Warrick was physically intelligent, like he had some innate knowledge of how to exactly contort his body to evade tacklers. He was in full control of his limbs like few college football players are, and he knew it. He got in opponents’ faces and, as a result, in their heads. Both of those qualities resulted in plays like this.

Warrick continued Deion Sanders’ legacy of establishing FSU’s attitude, its swagger, but Warrick took it to a place not seen since.

Chris Weinke
True story: Weinke and Charlie Ward initially were recruited for the same class. Because Weinke decided to detour and spent seven years playing minor league baseball before enrolling in Florida State, Weinke and Ward were never teammates.

But his time away was Weinke’s great secret: He was poised, mature, never consumed by the moment. He defined the games he played, not the other way around. Weinke led FSU to its first undefeated season and second national championship, defeating Virginia Tech, led by Michael Vick, 46-29 in 1999. Weinke is the oldest player to win the Heisman at 28 years old and holds most of FSU’s passing records. Although Ward was more memorable and a better athlete, Weinke set a different standard as a passer that all future Noles must follow.

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