Marvin Jones, LB, 1990-1992
Inducted into the Florida State University Hall of Fame in 2000
Like so many other players on this list, the lone thing standing between Marvin Jones and a spot closer to the top is the fact he left college a season early.
Had it not been for his decision to leave following the 1992 season Marvin Jones likely would have returned to FSU to preside over the Seminoles' national championship winning '93 defense. He could have become a three time consensus NCAA All-American, had a shot to challenge for the school record for tackles and would likely be the unchallenged selection for the greatest Seminole linebacker (possibly defender) of all-time.
As it stands, Jones can make one heck of a case for himself to be the greatest linebacker in Florida State history without that extra year. He was that good in just three.
Born in Miami, Jones graduated from Miami Northwestern before accepting a scholarship from Florida State to play under Bobby Bowden. He wasted no time making an impact, notching 133 tackles and an interception playing as a true freshman in 1990.
But his path there had hardly seemed like an obvious one just a few years earlier in Jones' life. At the age of 11 his world was rocked when the deaths of his mother, grandmother and a sister all came within months of one another. Two men stepped up to help Marvin through it, his father Nathaniel and his older brother Fred.
With his father working to support the family, Marvin's older brother Fred (a linebacker himself at FSU in his day) set about molding the shy young man into an athlete. Slowly Marvin's attitudes about his forced early morning workouts went from begrudging to accepting to excited. He went from pretending to be asleep as his older brother would try to pull him from bed to go work out, to beating his older brother up in the morning.
And the results were rapid. By 8th grade Marvin was dunking. By 16, he was making a name for himself on the highly-competitive South Florida high school football scene. By the end of his freshman year at Florida State he was a third team All-American in the eyes of the Associated Press.
Then, over the next two seasons Jones made running the ball up the middle against the Florida State defense a nightmarish proposition. From 1991-1992 he recorded 236 tackles, including 19 for loss and five sacks.
As a sophomore in 1991 Jones finished the season as an NCAA Consensus All-American and was nominated to the All-American teams of seven different publications and media outlets. Then he had arguably the greatest season- at any position on the defensive side of the ball- in Florida State history as a junior in 1992.
How good was Jones in 1992? He was once agains selected an NCAA Consensus All-American, made 10 other All-American teams, won the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award AND he finished fourth in Heisman voting.
By the time he turned pro following the 1992 college season, he was considered the top linebacker in the whole country.
In a Sports Illustrated article titled, "Made in the Shade," written in April of 1993, Sally Jenkins summarized Jones' dominance by writing:
"By the end of the afternoon, in the face of enormous expectations, Jones, a 20-year-old junior linebacker out of Florida State, had succeeded in dazzling the scouts: He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds; he bench-pressed 225 pounds 20 times; and he ascended to 38½" in the vertical leap. "He met the eyeball test, mentally and physically," says Charley Armey, the director of player personnel for the New England Patriots, who have the first pick but seem more in need of a quarterback than a linebacker.
"But beyond his numbers, the sheer weight of his presence on the field made him the most-feared player in the college ranks. The mobility Jones demonstrated as a Seminole was such that even at the pro level he will have to be reckoned with from sideline to sideline and in all situations. "He's an every-down player," says Armey. "You don't have to take him off the field on third-and-long or fourth-and-a-foot."
Jones was as intimidating a college player as has ever played at Florida State. He hit people with malice, made momentum-changing tackles in key moments and once broke a Duke quarterback's jaw with a forearm that could've made a UFC brawler blush.
He was everything that made fans gravitate towards Florida State's defenses in that day- all wrapped perfectly into one NFL-ready package.
The Jets took Jones fourth overall in the 1993 NFL Draft and he went on to play ten seasons- all in New York- earning All-Pro honors in 2000.
Jones' 369 career tackles is still 8th best all-time at Florida State. He was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2000 and could be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in the near future. He's easily one of the greatest Seminoles of all-time.
Next on the list is the most prolific quarterback in school history...
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