In the first feature for our weekly college football #TSLThrowbackAttack series, we discuss the greatness of Florida State Seminole legend, Charlie Ward.
Before Jameis Winston was “Doin’ It Big”, leading Florida State to its third national title while also becoming the school’s third Heisman Trophy winner, there was another quarterback from FSU who “Did It Big” first. A name that will forever be synonymous with Seminole football; Charlie Ward.
Perhaps the most decorated player in the history of college football, Charlie Ward won literally every award he was eligible for as a senior quarterback on Florida State’s 1993 national championship team. In addition, he was also the starting point guard on three Seminole NCAA Tournament teams. He was transcendent; as many dual-sport athletes served as novelties on their respective squads, Charlie excelled higher than anyone, accomplishing what many college sports fans might deem as mythical.
Growing up in Thomasville, Georgia, Ward grew up playing three sports: football, basketball and baseball. He accepted a football scholarship to Florida State in 1988; however, he did not officially qualify to play until the following season. But in 1992, Ward finally got his chance to run the show for the Noles, when he was named the starting quarterback in FSU’s first year in the ACC. He threw for 2,647 yards and 22 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, with a pass completion rate of 56 percent. He would lead Florida State to an 11-1 record, losing only to rival Miami, and go on to win the Orange Bowl over Nebraska.
As good as the 1992 season was, its was Charlie’s senior year of 1993 when he exceeded all expectations. Every aspect of Ward’s game demonstrated exponential improvement. His completion percentage rate jumped to 69.5. He almost eliminated his interceptions, going from 17 to 4 and he also added more than 300 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. In total, Ward threw for 3,032 yards with 27 touchdowns and only four picks which was the best season a Florida State quarterback had ever had, until Winston broke through with his epic run in the 2013 season.
Ward won every award he was nominated for including selections to nine different All-American teams, consensus NCAA All-American honors and winning the Davey O'Brien trophy, the Maxwell award and the first Heisman trophy in Florida State history. The icing on the cake was the aforementioned national championship that he brought to Tallahassee, defeating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl once again to crown an amazing season.
While Charlie was riding high on the cusp of winning the title, he had unfinished business to attend to on the basketball court as well. As the school’s starting point guard, he was an integral part of the team’s success, providing a much needed leadership role that continued to guide his team into the post season. Ward still holds Seminole basketball records for steals both in a game (9) and career (236) ,and ranks sixth all-time in assists (396). Despite his amazing success on the gridiron, NFL teams seemed to be scared off by the notion that Ward hinted that he was uncertain as to what sport he would choose to play professionally if selected. After professing that he would not play football unless drafted in the first round, Charlie decided to play basketball and was selected by the New York Knicks in the first round of the 1993 NBA Draft. While he may have only averaged 8.1 points per game, his athletic prowess and captain-like command guided him to a productive 11-year NBA career.
Although all of Ward’s notoriety comes via the playing field, it should be acknowledged and respected that he was also a well-rounded student and individual. In addition to his football accolades being a major part of the Seminoles' run to the Final Four, Ward also served as the Student Body Vice Preseident in his senior year. It is also well documented that he played a significant role in the mentoring of future football star Warrick Dunn, who came to FSU just month’s after his mother was murdered. Ward asked for the responsibility to mentor Dunn, who would go on to become the school’s all-time leading rusher.
We will remember the great things that Charlie Ward did as a player, but it is important to highlight his total impact as a student athlete. As much as Jameis Winston is praised on the football field, he also highly criticized for his off-field activities due to recent incidents that paint the quarterback in a negative light. It is why we end our first college football #TSLThrowbackAttack feature on a positive note; Ward has not stopped his good deeds at Florida State, as it is reported that he is now mentoring Winston in an effort to get the young superstar to be more well-rounded person. Charlie Ward’s greatness is literally great, and it knows no bounds. #RESPECT