Simply put, Bobby Bowden is a legend and will go down as one of the greatest head coaches in college football history. He has the fourth most wins (388) of any college coach, has won 12 ACC Championships and two national titles. He also has the second best all-time record in bowl games at 21-10-1 and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Now that he has decided to retire, we felt it would be appropriate to honor one of college football’s best coaches by compiling a list of the 10 best NFL players that played under Bowden at Florida State. Enjoy.
1. Deion Sanders, CB (Year Drafted: 1989)
Whether you liked his brash attitude or not, nobody can deny how good “Neon Deion” was as a player. He brought true meaning to the phrase “shutdown corner” while instilling excitement and thrill into the pro game. Nobody has ever blanketed one side of the field like Sanders could and perhaps nobody ever will. He was so good that quarterbacks avoided throwing to his side of the field not only in fear of being picked off by Sanders, but also in concern that he would return the gift for six points. And not only was he one of the greatest cover corners to ever don a pair of cleats, but he was also a phenomenal punt returner as well. When his career finally wrapped up, Deion had accumulated 53 interceptions, eight Pro Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl victories, a 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and was named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He was also an incredibly rare two-sport athlete and to this day, young corners still try to emulate the way he played the game. (Uh, outside of his shoddy tackling that is.)
2. Derrick Brooks, LB (1995)
When the Tampa 2 defense was implemented into the NFL by former Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, they must have had Derrick Brooks in mind when they envisioned its success. No linebacker was a better fit for that scheme than Brooks, who went on to appear in 11 Pro Bowls and was named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. He finished with 1,698 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions and also helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl in 2002. Other linebackers may have been more feared, but not many covered a field like Brooks did. He was also a tremendous leader and played on some of the best defenses of the past decade.
3. Walter Jones, OT (1997)
Jones’ career is coming to an end, but he’ll be been known as the rock at the end of the Seahawks’ offensive line for years to come. Throughout his career, he was named to nine Pro Bowls, is a six-time All-NFC player, a four-time first-team All-Pro selection and a bona fide hall of famer. He and former Seattle offensive guard Steve Hutchinson formed one of the best left sides in the NFL and helped pave the way for Shaun Alexander’s great career. When he finally does retire, Jones will be mentioned with Anthony Munoz and Art Shell as one of the best offensive linemen in the history of the league.
4. Warrick Dunn, RB (1997)
When he was growing up, Dunn was always told that he would never make it as a football player because of his small size (5’9”, 190 pounds). But that didn’t stop the former Buc and Falcon from racking up 10,967 yards, a 4.1 YPC average and 49 touchdowns on his way to becoming a three-time Pro Bowl selection. One of the more remarkable things about Dunn was his longevity despite his size limitations. Despite the position he played, he rarely took a big hit and was great at using his pads to absorb contact. He was also one of the greatest NFL humanitarians, helping single mothers every Christmas through his “Home for the Holidays” program. For his gracious work with various charities, he received the 2009 Walter Payton Mann of the Year Award.
5. LeRoy Butler, S (1990)
Brett Favre and Reggie White are two names that pop into your head when reminiscing about the 1995 Packers team, but there’s no doubt that LeRoy Butler was one of the staples of that Super Bowl squad. Not only did Butler help Green Bay win a title that year, but he also was one of the more fundamentally sound safeties during his playing days. In his 12 seasons with the Packers, he recorded 953 tackles, 38 interceptions, 553 return yards, 12 fumble recoveries, three defensive touchdowns and 20.5 sacks. He led or tied for the team lead in interceptions in five different seasons and he was the first defensive back in NFL history to gain entrance into the 20 sack/20 interception club.
6. Peter Boulware, LB (1997)
Ray Lewis’s name is always mentioned first when people talk about the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, but Boulware was a key member of one of the best defenses in NFL history. Throughout his career, Boulware recorded 493 tackles, 70 sacks, 26.5 tackles for loss and 13 forced fumbles. He was a perfect fit as an edge rusher in Baltimore’s defense and went on to appear in four Pro Bowls, was named the 1997 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was also inducted into the Ravens’ Ring of Honor.
7. Brad Johnson, QB (1992)
Brad Johnson never had the strongest arm and rarely put up gaudy numbers, but he did orchestrate Jon Gruden’s offense to near perfection in 2002 when he helped guide the Buccaneers to their first ever Super Bowl title. That year, Johnson lead the NFC in passer rating at 92.9 and set new team records for touchdowns with 22, completion percentage at 62.3, consecutive passes without an interception with 187, and also had the lowest interception percentage with 1.3%. For his career, he appeared in two Pro Bowls, compiled 28,627 total passing yards and finished with 164 passing touchdowns.
8. Anquan Boldin, WR (2003)
Many people know Boldin either for his role in the Cardinals’ 2008 Super Bowl team or the receiver opposite Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona’s outstanding receiving corps. But many forget just how good Boldin was in his first year when he won the 2003 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. That year, Boldin had 101 catches and was the only rookie selected to the Pro Bowl. He also set an NFL record for most receiving yards by a rookie in his first game (217), holds the NFL record for most receptions in the first 26 games of an NFL career (157), and was the fastest to record 300 career receptions (47 games). As of this writing, Boldin has hauled in 553 receptions for 7,108 yards and 42 touchdowns. The best part is, his career is far from over and whether he stays in Arizona and excels with Fitzgerald on the opposite side, or goes elsewhere to become a No. 1 target, Boldin could put up great numbers before he’s done playing.
9. Laveranues Coles, WR (2000)
His FSU teammate Peter Warrick received more attention because he was a top 5 pick in the 2000 draft, but Coles (a third rounder in ’00) has gone on to have the better career. To date, Coles has racked up 631 catches for 8,095 yards and 44 touchdowns. He never puts up out-of-this-world numbers, but Coles has always been dependable, durable and has never shied away from going over the middle.
10. Ernie Sims, LB (2006)
In his first two years in the league, Sims led the Lions in total tackles and has since been one of the lone bright spots on one of the worst teams this decade. He’s fast, aggressive and one of the few versatile linebackers in the NFL that can play sideline to sideline. As long as he can stay healthy, Sims could one day have a career that resembles Derrick Brooks’.
Worthy of Mention:
Sebastian Janikowski, K (2000)
It’s not our style to list a kicker in any top 10 list, but Janikowski is worth mentioning considering that he’s Oakland’s franchise-leading scorer, holds the longest field goal in Raiders’ history (57 yards) and has the most career points in team history with 865. He’s also a two-time Lou Groza Award winner, has made 77.2 percent of his field goal attempts and is often the only offense the Raiders generate these days.
Honorable Mention: Alex Barron (OT), Lorenzo Booker (RB), Brodrick Bunkley (DT), Zack Crockett (FB), Antonio Cromartie (CB), Darnell Dockett (DT), Chris Hope (S), Dexter Jackson (S), Samari Rolle (CB), Corey Simon (DT), Tra Thomas (OT), Javon Walker (WR), Leon Washington (RB).
Photo from fOTOGLIF
Tags: 2009 College Football, Anquan Boldin, Anthony Stalter, Best Florida State all-time NFL players, Best Florida State NFL players, Best Florida State players, Best FSU players, Bobby Bowden, Bobby Bowden coached NFL players, Bobby Bowden Florida State, Bobby Bowden retire, Brad Johnson, Deion Sanders, Deion Sanders Florida State, Derrick Brooks, Ernie Sims, Florida State, Florida State Seminoles, FSU, Great College Football head coaches, Laveranues Coles, LeRoy Butler, Peter Boulware, Sebastian Janikowski, Walter Jones, Warrick Dunn