Florida State football: 5 great players who didn’t live up to the NFL hype

Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
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Overrated Florida State football players, NFL busts
Chris Weinke #16 of the Florida State Seminoles. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport /

Florida State football has produced some undeniable NFL legends but other greats in the history of the Seminoles never found success in the pros.

Deion Sanders, Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn and even more contemporary players such as Dalvin Cook and Jalen Ramsey have all called Florida State football their home over the years. Of course, they’ve also gone on to enjoy fruitful careers at the NFL level. Whether it’s been under Bobby Bowden, Jimbo Fisher or otherwise, the Seminoles have never been short on talent.

But for as many NFL greats that the program has produced over the years, Florida State football also has its share of whiffs at the next level. No, we’re not talking about someone like Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, who chose an NBA career over an NFL career. Instead, we’re talking about players who starred in college but weren’t able to do the same as a pro.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five Florida State football greats who never made it once they got to the NFL.

The simple truth is that Chris Weinke‘s path to Florida State ultimately played a large role in why his NFL career didn’t pan out to the same level as his college career. He spent six seasons playing minor league baseball in the Toronto Blue Jays system before heading to Tallahassee after reconnecting with Bobby Bowden, who had recruited him prior to his ventures on the diamond.

He took over as the Seminoles starting quarterback in 1998 as a 26-year-old sophomore and showed some promise as he threw for 2,487 yards, 19 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He then cemented himself in Florida State football lore as he threw for 3,103 yards and 25 touchdowns while leading the Noles to a National Championship in 1999.

Further adding to his legacy, Weinke returned for another season and had the best campaign of his career. As a 28-year-old, he threw for 4,167 yards and 33 touchdowns. Though he didn’t win another title, he did lead the Noles to a top-five final ranking and 11-2 season. More importantly, he won the Heisman Trophy for his exploits.

Due to his age and despite his accolades at FSU, Weinke wasn’t selected until the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft when the Carolina Panthers took a shot on him. He won his first start as a 29-year-old rookie but subsequently lost the next 14 games of the season. He made only five more starts over the next four seasons and threw for only 3,904 yards and 15 touchdowns while throwing 26 interceptions in his NFL career.

Had he chosen football over baseball from the jump, who knows what might’ve been for Weinke?