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Profile: Warrick Dunn - II


Warrick Dunn


Bobby Bowden and Charlie Ward


Doug Williams in Super Bowl


Sean Jackson


Derrick Brooks


Dunn vs Georgia Tech


Ward throws vs Miami


Ward tries to fend off Notre Dame tackler



Dunn scores clinching TD vs Florida


Ward Under Duress in Orange Bowl


Drenched Bowden after Orange Bowl win

When Warrick Dunn arrived at Florida State for his freshman year in 1993, the football staff assigned him to room with senior QB Charlie Ward in the athletic dorm.
  • Warrick recalled: It's amazing that a forty-minute telephone call can forge an immediate bond between two guys who had never met face to face. But that's what happened when Charlie Ward and I talked to each other for the first time on the telephone. I had signed with Florida State a few months earlier, in February, and I was headed to Tallahassee from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to take the first step of my freshman season with the Seminoles.
    A mutual acquaintance of Dunn and Ward facilitated their friendship. Doug Williams, the Grambling graduate who became the first black starting QB in a Super Bowl, had known Warrick's mother since they were teenagers growing up outside Baton Rouge. Williams had met Charlie two years earlier in an airport and struck up a friendship. When Doug learned that Warrick had signed with FSU, he called Charlie and asked him to keep an eye on Dunn. What better way to keep an eye on him than to have him as your roommate?
  • Dunn on his special relationship with Ward: We had that connection between us. I really can't explain it other than to say it was special. We were a lot alike. We were more interested in hanging around our place in Burt Reynolds Hall than going out and socializing. That first telephone call between us would have stunned people who thought we were two reserved, soft-spoken guys who didn't say peep to anyone. We had grown so close so quickly that we knew each other's thoughts and actions on and off the field.

Although recruited as a cornerback, Dunn had been promised by Coach Bobby Bowden that he would get a look at TB despite the fact that the Seminoles were loaded at that position..

  • Senior Sean Jackson from New Orleans was the returning starter, although junior Tiger McMillon had led the team in rushing in 1992 with 579y to Jackson's 489.
  • Also in the mix was Marquette Smith, a prep All-American from Winter Park FL who was named the 1990 High School Football Player of the Year by Gatorade and Offensive Player of the Year by USA Today after averaging 8.4 ypc and gaining 7,629 all-purpose yards in his high school career with 62 TDs in his last two seasons. After carrying the ball just 22 times as a freshman, Smith had redshirted his second year.
  • Joining Warrick in the freshman class was Rock Preston, who was Dunn's twin sizewise. Warrick: 5-8 172; Rock 5-8 176. Rock and I had to learn the offense as quickly as possible if we wanted to contribute. And I wanted to contribute.
  • Dunn caught a break because of his competitors' bad fortunes. Jackson and Smith were sidelined with sprained ankles while McMillon suffered a kneecap injury leaping to catch a pass in a receiving drill and was ruled out for the season. So only a week into preseason practice, Warrick ran with the first team offense. Jackson would resume that spot by the time the season started.
  • In the first scrimmage, he demonstrated he would be a weapon in the passing game when he took a screen pass and zipped into the EZ past All-American LB Derrick Brooks, who ripped off his helmet and took a knee in frustration.
  • That ended any thoughts that Bowden had of moving Dunn to the secondary even though that unit had lost two potential starters to season-ending knee injuries.
    Warrick: I wasn't intimidated on the field or by the surroundings. I just wanted to contribute.

The Seminoles began the 1993 season ranked #1 in the country.

  • They romped over Kansas 42-0 in the opener as the Baton Rouge sensation went 18y on his first collegiate carry after breaking a tackle in the backfield. He ended with 45y on seven carries.
    Dunn: It was so cool to finally be playing at Florida State. It's something that I always wanted to do, and here I was, fulfilling a dream that my mother and I shared.
  • The defending ACC champion Noles began their second year in the conference with a 45-7 pounding of Duke in rainy Durham NC. Warrick gained nothing on two runs but gathered in two passes for 66y with one a 57-yarder.
  • The home opener brought another rout, 57-0 over Clemson, the Tigers' worst loss in 62 years. Dunn scored the first TD of his college career on a 16y pass from Ward, his only reception of the day. He added 46y on seven carries.
  • The rampage through the conference continued with a 33-7 pasting of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Warrick scored on another 16y pass from his roommate and added 28 more yards on three rushes and two more catches.
  • The Seminoles had needed a Q4 rally in 1992 to defeat Georgia Tech in Atlanta but had no trouble with the Jackets the following year in Tallahassee, 51-0. Dunn's stat line read: 7 carries for 32y plus two receptions for 28 with three TDs - 14 and 4y runs and a 7y pass completion.

Next came the contest that had become the biggest game on the schedule every year, with bearing on the national championship as well as settling supremacy in the state of Florida.

  • The Miami Hurricanes came to Tallahassee ranked #3 after two straight undefeated regular seasons that included wins over Florida State decided by a made or missed FG in the last minute.
  • Before the record crowd of 77,813 settled into their seats, Jackson swept RE and race 69y to give FSU the lead just 3:43 into the game.
  • The Hurricanes answered with an 9-play, 80y drive to tie the score
  • But the Seminoles unleashed their Fast Break Offense and retook the lead in just three plays. Ward scrambled out of the pocket and lofted a pass over two UM defenders to a streaking Matt Frier, who took the ball in stride for a 72y TD.
  • Charlie put FSU 14 points ahead in Q2 when he scrambled in from the 2. The key play in the drive came on 3rd-and-7 from the FSU 43 when Dunn lined up next to Charlie in the shotgun. Instead of snapping the ball to Ward, C Clay Shiver hiked it straight to Dunn, who raced 27y through the surprised defense for the 1st down.
  • After a scoreless Q3, Miami narrowed the gap to 21-10 with a FG less than a minute into the final period.
  • After the defenses prevailed on the next three possessions, FSU SS Devin Bush, a Miami native, salted the game away with a 40y INT return.
  • The victory was just the Noles' second in the last nine tries against the Canes.

After jumping over the Miami snake, the Seminoles returned to beating up their ACC foes.

  • FSU 40 Virginia 14; Dunn: 5-30 rushing, 1-28 receiving
  • FSU 54 Wake Forest 0; Dunn's biggest game thus far- 8-162 rushing, including TDs of 63 and 5y.
  • FSU 49 Maryland 20; Dunn: 10-46 rushing, 3-14 receiving

That set the stage for the clash the nation had been waiting for since the beginning of the season: #1 Florida State @ #2 Notre Dame

  • The game lived up to its billing. Unfortunately, the Fighting Irish prevailed 31-24, ending FSU's school-record 16-game winning streak.
  • Notre Dame broke a 7-7 tie with 14 Q2 points and a FG early in Q3 to take a 24-7 lead.
  • Warrick scored on a 6y swing pass from Ward to narrow the gap to 10. Then a FG cut it to 7.
  • But the Irish scored what proved to be the winning TD with 6:53 left.
  • That allowed them to survive another Ward TD pass with 2:26 left.
  • The game ended with a defender batting down Charlie's pass into the EZ.
  • Warrick contributed only 18y to the FSU offense.
  • The AP voters reversed the places of the Irish and Noles with undefeated Nebraska lurking at #3. Writers talked about the possibility of a rematch in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship.

The Noles took out their frustration on North Carolina State.

  • Dunn, one of seven ball carriers and ten receivers who entered the stat column, gained just 31 of the Noles' 553y of offense. He did score a Q4 TD on a 10y pass from third-string QB Jon Stark.
  • But the good news of the day was Notre Dame shocking loss to Boston College at home. That opened the door for FSU to move back to #1 with undefeated Nebraska #2 and Notre Dame third..
    Dunn: We made easy work of North Carolina State ... but who would have thunk it? Boston College upset Notre Dame, which put us back in the driver's seat in the national-title race. But we knew we couldn't really celebrate, not with rival Florida up next in our regular-season finale ...

Warrick made his biggest play of the year in the annual season-ender at Florida.

  • The Noles quieted the Gainesville crowd by jumping out to a 13-0 lead and then a 27-7 margin.
  • But two straight TDs brought UF to within 27-21 with 5:58 remaining.
  • With momentum of the Gators' side and the home crowd deafening, Ward hooked up with Warrick for the play of the game.
  • Facing 3rd and 10 from his own 21, Charlie made a play action fake, then eluded a pair of defenders as he rolled to his left and lofted a soft toss toward Dunn on the left side. The freshman caught the ball in stride, picked up a key block from WR Tamarick Vanover, and raced down the sidelines for a 79y score and an insurmountable 33-21 lead.
  • Dunn finished with 140y on 8 catches and 33 more on six runs.
    Warrick remembered the big play in his autobiography. Because of our connection as friends and roommates, Charlie and I connected on that 79-yard touchdown pass that helped us quiet Florida Field and beat the Gators.

Florida tackler horse-collars Dunn.

The Orange Bowl paired Nebraska and Florida State for the national championship.

  • In the meantime, Charlie Ward won the Heisman Trophy for 1993.
  • Florida State AD announced that Charlie's number 17 jersey (the same number that Doug Williams wore for the Redskins) would be retired.

The Noles were tabbed as 17-point favorites to defeat the Cornhuskers for the second straight season in the Orange Bowl.

  • The talk beforehand was that one of the two great coaches, Bobby Bowden or Tom Osborne, would win his first national championship.
  • The Noles prevailed but it wasn't easy as the Nebraska defense did a great job of containing Bowden's high-powered O.
  • Trailing 15-7 heading into Q4, the Huskers ralled with a TD on the first play of the period. A two-point conversion run failed - an outcome that would prove fatal to the Big 12 school.
  • Then a FG with only 1:16 remaining put Nebraska in front 18-16.
  • Ward got the opportunity to prove that he deserved the Heisman. Starting at the 35 after the kickoff went out of bounds, Charlie went to work. A key play was another Ward-to-Dunn connection that gained 21y to the NU 33. As Warrick went out of bounds, a defender pushed him, drawing a 15y roughness penalty.
  • Two plays later, an interference call put the ball on the 3. After a loss of 2, Bowden decided to take no further chances and sent out K Scott Bentley, who boomed the 22y game-winner with 21 seconds left.
    Dunn: While I only rushed one time for 3 yards and had two receptions for 30 yards - Nebraska did a great job in its coverage schemes - it was an incredible feeling to win a national title. As we poured into the locker room, it was great to share the moment with your teammates.
    And, of course, I knew exactly where to look for Charlie.
    We had that connection.

Dunn's statistics for the 1993 season:
68 rushes for 511y (7.5pc) 4 TD, 25 receptions for 357y (14.3) and 6 TD.
Warrick finished second behind Jackson in rushing yards.
His 10 TDs led the Noles.

To be continued ...

References: Running for My Life: My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond,
Warrick Dunn and Don Yaeger (2008)


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Seminole Sidelines Archives – I

Birth of the Seminoles
Dedication of Doak Campbell Stadium
Bear Was Fit to be Tied
Rock Bottom in Tallahassee
First Season
"Our team cheated ... and we still couldn't beat him."
First Bowl Game
Bobby Wouldn't Quit

Seminole Sidelines Archives – II

#1 Fan
1988 Fiesta Bowl
Are You Stupid?
Birth of the Sod Cemetery
Fred Biletnikoff
Birth of the Fast Break Offense
Memorable Game: LSU 1991
First Air Trip
First SEC Win
First Peach Bowl

Seminole Sidelines Archives – III

Puntrooskie
He Coulda Been a Star
When Johnny U Came to Tallahassee
Bobby's First Gator Win
"Most Memorable Month"
A Stand for the Ages
The "Dirty Jerseys" Game
27 Fumbles in One Game

Seminole Sidelines Archives – IV

Offside? OK, Do It Again.
Florida 1960
Two Backups Beat ASU
Profile: Ron Sellers
Colossal Upset - Almost
Losing Streak Finally Ends
First - Renegade Appears
"The Most Bizarre of His Victories"
Notre Dame Comeback #1
Notre Dame Comeback #2

Seminole Sidelines Archives – V

First Victory over Miami
Birth of "Huff the Magic Dragon"
Can Anybody Here Snap the Ball?
Same Foe, Same Score
A Big Win
First Win at Auburn
Bobby's Ties (I-IV)

Seminole Sidelines Archives – VI

#1 vs #2 Miami 1991
#1 vs #2 Notre Dame 1993
#1 vs #2 Nebraska 1994 Orange Bowl
#1 vs #2 Tennessee 1998
#1 vs #2 Virginia Tech 1999

Seminole Sidelines Archives – VII

First Game against Florida
First Game at Michigan
Maybe the Video Wasn't Such a Good Idea
Live by the Rooskie, Die by the Rooskie
Profile: Jameis Winston

First Undefeated Season (I-IV)
"The Zaniest Game in Miami's History"
When Bowden Faced Saban

Seminole Sidelines Archives – VIII

Auburn Fires the Last Shot

Seminole Sidelines Archives – 1979 Bobby's First Undefeated Season

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