Peter Boulware, OLB/DE, 1993-1996
Inducted into the Florida State University Hall of Fame in 2004
In terms of numbers and impact, Peter Boulware is the greatest pass-rusher in the history of Florida State University.
Boulware was born in Columbia, South Carolina but opted to leave the state and attend Florida State University starting in the Fall of 1993. He redshirted that first season but practiced, watched film and learned the ropes of being a college athlete on a national championship defense that year. Then he put it to work over the next three seasons.
He didn't get his first full year as a starter until he was a junior in 1996, but that didn't stop him from tallying 15 sacks- in primarily a reserve role- during his first two seasons (94-95).
As a redshirt freshman playing mostly inside on the 1994 campaign, Boulware pulled down 37 tackles and five sacks. He followed that by shifting outside and picking up another ten sacks in his sophomore season despite making just two starts the whole year.
Seemingly poised for a breakout year in 1996, Boulware did more than just break out. He shattered things like opposing quarterbacks' bones and the Florida State record books. Boulware made 68 tackles as a junior, including 20 for loss, but what made the nation sit up and take notice was his jaw-dropping 19 sacks.
Those 19 sacks were good enough to get Boulware selected to seven All-American teams, including earning him consensus NCAA All-American honors. He was also named the national Defensive Player of the Year for obliterating Ron Simmons' previously held school record of 12 sacks.
Had Boulware returned for a senior season he would have likely crushed Reinard Wilson's school record for career sacks too. He finished just a sack and a half back of Wilson (who notched 35.5 over a four year career at FSU that also spanned from 1993-1996).
Wilson never redshirted though and instead recorded two sacks in his true freshman season during 1993. Those two sacks made all the difference in terms of ensuring he got the record.
With another year of eligibility remaining, Boulware could have easily crushed that mark if he chose to come back.
But he didn't.
He turned pro, was drafted 4th overall by the Baltimore Ravens and proceeded to win Defensive Rookie of the Year his first season in the league. He pulled down 12 sacks that season after moving to outside linebacker. Chances are Reinard Wilson's record wouldn't have lasted long if Boulware had stuck around Tallahassee for another year.
Boulware played in the NFL for nine years, from 1997-2005, and spent his whole career with the Ravens. All nine of them next to future Hall of Famer, Ray Lewis.
Much like he did in Tallahassee when he arrived and walked into Derrick Brooks' lockerroom as a true freshman, Boulware found himself in a similar position in Baltimore. The year before the Ravens had spent the 26th pick of the draft on Lewis. He was already established as a starter and was entrenching himself as the leader of that unit (and later the whole defense) by the time Boulware showed up in 1997.
The two teamed up to lead one of the most dynamic defenses of the late 90-s-early 00's. He was four times named to the Pro Bowl, was an All-Pro in 1999, won a Superbowl in 2000 and lead the league in sacks in 2001. He finished his career with 403 career tackles and 70 career sacks.
Those 70 NFL sacks are the most recorded by any Seminole at the pro level. It's actually the 74th most in NFL history.
During his career at Florida State, Boulware turned in the greatest single season any pass rusher has ever had. Considering the sheer volume of NFL-caliber defensive linemen to come through FSU, that's no small feat.
Boulware is the greatest defensive lineman in Seminole history to many fans, but there can be debate about that title with several other players making solid cases themselves. But the greatest defensive line era in Florida State history was between 1994-1996. That's without a doubt.
While Boulware was tearing through offensive lines at a clip of 34 sacks in three seasons, Reinard Wilson had 33.5 over the same period. They combined for 19 in 1995 before Boulware was even a full-time starter. The year that both started in 1996 they combined for 32.5 sacks, Boulware matched the previous year's combined total by himself and both DE's broke Simmons' FSU single-season sack record.
In 1996 FSU had the greatest tandem of pass rushers in its history and held opposing offenses to just 59 rushing yards per game. There were a combined 16 NFL seasons in the duo's future, both were picked in the first round of the 1997 draft. On one end of the line was the school's all-time career sacks record holder and on the other was the school's single season sacks record holder nipping at his heels for the career lead.
Wilson entered 1996 just three sacks behind Ron Simmons' career record of 25. Boulware was ten back. By year's end only a sack and a half divided them as both were vying to set the new career mark at FSU- at the expense of opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines.
Oh, and future third overall pick Andre Wadsworth was collapsing offensive lines from his spot in the middle of that '96 defensive line.
That's a dangerous trio, but none went on to have the kind of NFL success Boulware did.
His 19 sacks in a season is a mark that may take decades to break. His 34 sacks in three years is still second all-time.
And at least as far as this list is concerned, Boulware is the greatest pass-rusher in Seminole history.
Next up, the countdown's second oldest player...
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