Douglas Terrell Buckley, CB, 1989-1991
Inducted into the Florida State University Hall of Fame in 2003
If not for a guy named Deion Sanders, the next entry on the countown would be the top defensive back to have ever come through Florida State. In fact, I'd go out on a limb and say Terrell Buckley would likely be the top DB in the history of about 110 other D1 schools around the country too.
Buckley was a stud corner who did more statistically in just three football seasons than any other player to ever play in the FSU secondary.
Born in Mississippi, by the time Buckley was fielding college offers he was one of the most decorated high school football players in the state's history. A two-time first team All-State pick, Buckley averaged 30 yards a punt return (including seven return TD's) and netted a HS-record 30 interceptions in his time at Pascagoula High School.
He chose to attend Florida State- where a dynamic player named Sanders had just electrified the country as a three-sport star athlete for the Seminoles- and proceeded to become one of the ten greatest players in the history of that program.
I mention Sanders because the two corners are forever linked. Just a season after Sanders had left, Buckley was already in the Seminole secondary making a difference. But in a lot of ways coming in right after Sanders hurt Buckley from a historical perspective.
FSU had just had a brash playmaker in their secondary intercepting passes and returning kicks. Then a year later here was this three-sport star with confidence to spare returning kicks and intercepting passes. The similarities likely overshadowed just what a once-in-a-generation sort of player Buckley was in his own right.
That Sanders and Buckley came back to back and both played alongside Leroy Butler is almost an anamoly. Programs can play 100 years and not get three defensive backs of that caliber. FSU got three within seven years.
And while Primetime became an icon and would go on to become a Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest NFL cover corner of all-time. At FSU, T-Buck blew Primetime's numbers out of the water.
In one fewer year, Buckley had 50% more picks. Buckley's 21 interceptions in three seasons stands as a school record to this day. The next closest is Monk Bonasarte with 15 in a career. Sanders sits third with 14.
Punt returns? Buckley had a better career average and they each had three touchdowns. Both played the outfield for Mike Martin on FSU's baseball team (and made it to a college world series). Both lettered in track. Buckley's only crime was he didn't do it first.
After seeing considerable playing time as a true freshman in 1989, Buckley became one of the most dominant corners in the country from 1990-1991. He was selected a 2nd team All-American by three different publications in '90, then turned in the best performance by any defensive back in Florida State history in 1991.
You just didn't throw on Terrell Buckley in '91. His 12 interceptions that seasons is still a school record at FSU. Put it this way, FSU finished second in the country in total defense last season and had one fewer interception as a unit than Buckley did on his own during the '91 season. The performance was good enough to win him a Thorpe award, consensus NCAA All-American honors and nine other All-American nominations from various outlets and media publications.
21 picks in three seasons doesn't even tell the whole story. Buckley returned four of those picks for interceptions and totaled over 500 interception return yards in his career. That yardage mark is an NCAA record.
Had Buckley opted to return for a senior season he could have put even more distance between himself and the next closest players in FSU's record books, but instead he turned pro and was selected fifth overall by the Green Bay Packers in the 1992 NFL Draft.
He had 50 interceptions over his NFL career, notching at least one in ever season he played- 13 consecutive years. He is also the youngest player in NFL history to return a punt for touchdown.
Terrell Buckley is one of the most dynamic players, not just in FSU history, but in college football history. He was a brash, ball-hawking corner who wouldn't hesitate to talk some trash and had all the tools to back it up.
There have been some great corners in the history of Florida State, but few if any had better careers in the Garnet and Gold than Buckley did. 21 picks, seven non-offensive touchdowns, 500+ yards on interception returns.
Terrell Buckley is without a doubt one of the best to ever play at Florida State University.
Next on the list is the greatest defensive lineman in school history...
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