Class Act

Warrick Dunn's four-year career (1993-96) at FSU established him as one of the most popular players in college football and the finest running back in the history of Seminole football. Dunn, who was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame Friday, visited with TheTerritory and other media members prior to the banquet at the University Center. He chatted about a variety of subjects and was genuinely excited about being back in Tally.

Warrick Dunn and the Atlanta Falcons finished the preseason 4-0 following Thursday's victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. However that may not necessarily be an indication of things to come. The last time that happened, head coach Jerry Glanville led the team finished the regular season 5-11. Still, Dunn is happy be in Atlanta after spending his first five years in the league with Tampa Bay. Of course, Dunn also was all smiles Friday as he was inducted in the Seminoles' Hall of Fame. Dunn chatted with TheTerritory and other members of the media in the University Center prior to the banquet. Here is that conversation.

What's this award mean to you?

"Right now, it's hard to say because I've been gone for five years and you wouldn't think it would happen in five years. It's kind of shocking but I am happy. I am happy the alumni think highly enough of me to make this so soon."

What were some of the lessons that you learned and you took away from your time spent at FSU?

"Preparation. Coach Bowden preached preparation. Being dedicated. Becoming a man in the sense of taking care of your responsibilities. And over the last five years I've had to burden certain things and definitely continue to live my life and continue to move forward. I am blessed that I had an opportunity to come to Florida State. And I learned a lot. I learned a lot from the guys I played with. Actually, now I am playing against guys who went behind me or came before me, and it's a joy still because you have a lot of alumni that play the game. So, I am thankful to have the opportunity to play with a lot of guys who came through this university."

What was it like to see this team struggle last year?

"It wasn't pleasant. It wasn't fun for my pocket (laughing). All I can do is say well, out of 20 years you are going to have one bad year. Last year was our bad year. I think those guys now are hungry and hopefully they will come back and show the country that Florida State is back. It was just one bad year. Sometimes that happens. It happens every year in the National Football League. In college it's not supposed to happen but we took a hit last year."

Did you talk to any players or coaches last year?

"You talk to some guys and you wonder what was going on. But all you had to do was read the papers with freshmen and sophomores playing last year. So, that was my excuse last year. Now those guys are older and have a year of experience, I expect them to be Top Five."

Did you get a lot of grief from teammates in the Bucs' locker room?

"Last year we got a lot of grief. It wasn't a good year for me down there. It wasn't a good year for Florida State, so I guess I had a lot coming at me. Hearing guys talked about how bad we lost to North Carolina. How bad Miami was blowing us out. Florida killed us. You take that on the chin but you keep moving forward. It's going to be payback time. This year is going to be payback time."

Is it strange for you this year that you are no longer in Florida for the first time in 10 years?

"It's different but because Florida to me has a really good fan base. Atlanta actually has a lot of Florida State alumni. Everywhere I go I see somebody who went to school here. I am happy. It's probably a good move for me. I am in a system that probably suits my style a little bit more and I am getting an opportunity to play."

How are things working, especially since you have Michael Vick in his first year as a starter?

"Right now his progression is good so far. I think he's trying to take the right steps. He's studying hard. He's actually getting out there playing, trying to make the right reads. He's gonna make mistakes. But I think what they are trying to do is put enough guys around him, they will take the pressure off of him. He's doing that. I am doing my thing. We have other guys. They can't really key on one day on this football team. With the defense playing well, if we can come out early and get some wins you never know what could happen."

What are some of the memories that you took away from here?

"Well, definitely, the Miami game was my first big game my freshman year. I constantly talk about that on the next level. The Florida game, my freshman year. Had the opportunity to play in the national championship game against Nebraska. There's a couple of guys on my team that played at Notre Dame when we played against them. We talk about those games. We constantly get into an argument with Florida guys. They beat us my senior year but those guys know I guess it was just their turn. But probably what sticks with me most is actually losing that Virginia game. Because it was the first team to do that (beat FSU in the ACC) and we constantly hear that. And when you have ESPN Classic keeps playing the game and the guy says, 'Did you get in?' Of course I got in. It was a home call. But you take those and chalk them up. Those are life lessons but they are also memories. No one can ever take that away. Probably the greatest game I ever played in was my senior year here against Florida. Probably the biggest, hypest game I've ever been in. Both teams played up to their capabilities and played up to the hype and we happened to win the game."

Did you watch last week?

"We were playing at the same time. You try to listen for a score or see if the score is flashed across the screen. I knew we were up big. The preseason game got boring, so you are trying to figure out who is winning. The next thing it's 'Oh, those guys came back and almost won the game.' So, I took a little heat from that. But every national championship team, every year, has to win a close one. Everyone wins one that's controversial. So, hopefully that was the last close one of the year."

What do you remember from that 1993 game at Notre Dame?

"I just know a lot of guys were slipping. We didn't play well the first half. We brought a charge in the second half. We just couldn't make enough plays in the end. I remember. ... actually at halftime Coach Bowden called me out. He said I wasn't in high school anymore I was in college, so act like I was an upperclassmen. I guess he motivated and pushed me a little bit."

Did you think you guys had lost your opportunity for a national championship that season following the Notre Dame game?

"We had some sad faces. Actually, when Notre Dame lost that next week and we played that night game, if you guys would have been at Burt Reynolds, everybody was going crazy. I was going crazy because you had an opportunity that if you out and win, we were playing in the national championship game. Guys were excited about that."

Have you found anything in pro football that matches the excitement and passion that surrounded your career here?

"No. There's too much pressure. College is much more fun. The tradition. You have the rivalries that you look forward to every year. Professional, it's more of a business. You don't have the traditional rivalries week in and week out. You have.... you may go to a stadium where there's 40,000 people. Or you may not play well and they dog you and you have to take the criticism. But college is so much fun. The talent level is different. Running through people is much more exciting. Running up the score is much more exciting. The next level, it's a lot more competitive. You have those type games against Florida, Miami, Notre Dame every year reminded me now of the professional level because you have a lot of talented guys playing against each other."

Are you sticking around for Saturday's game?

"I can't fly into Tallahassee and just get out (laughing). I am going to try to enjoy it a little bit. Drive around. Probably go to the mall. Do things that I used to do. Try to go to eat at places that I used to eat when I was here. Just try to enjoy it. My family is actually here. My family is going to the game. Everybody I guess, in a sense, is going to relive the yesteryears."

Will you talk to the team?

"Probably not. I am still not a motivational speaker. I don't know what I could say to pump those guys up. If they don't realize what's at stake then I can't say anything that would get them excited. They should realize what's at stake and what their goals should be."

Do you guys play Washington this year. You might have been the only Seminole that coach Spurrier liked and respected. He hugged you after the 1995 game.

"He hugged me and said, 'Yeah, it's our turn now (laughing)' That was real positive. Real positive. I don't know. He has a good system. You hear raves about him. I play with Willie Jackson and Fred Weary. They rave about it, the system. But now he's playing against athletes of the same caliber. He has the same type of athletes on the others side of the ball, so it's going to be a little bit. ... I wouldn't say it's going to easy. But he's still going to be creative and make things happen. Defenses are going to attack him and try to put pressure on him. That's what we did and I think that's what other people are going to do."

Are you nervous about tonight?

"I will probably get nervous if I have to make a speech or stuff. I am still speech shy (smiling). I am excited. I am looking forward to see what the room looks that. I haven't been up there. I really haven't been to the stadium in a few years. I don't think I've been here in two or three years, so I am looking forward to it."

Script from Hall of Fame Banquet

Warrick Dunn …. one of the great names in Seminole history. When you ask someone about Warrick Dunn, they'll use words like "courageous, shy, generous, phenomenal." His story is a familiar one to most, entering the national spotlight after signing with FSU out of high school just a few months after his mother was shot and killed in the line of duty in his hometown of Baton Rouge.

He was a versatile athlete at Catholic High who played quarterback, running back and cornerback. He earned USA Today honorable mention All-America honors as a prep and was considered one of the top 10 football players in Louisiana. In his senior season, Dunn averaged 10.5 yards per carry and also threw for nearly 500 yards.

With a load of responsibility on his shoulders for five younger siblings back in Baton Rouge, Warrick managed to carve out one of the finest freshman seasons ever seen at FSU. He averaged seven and a half yards per carry and ranked second on the team in rushing. He earned second team Freshman All-American honors by Football News and who could forget that unforgettable 79-yard catch and run that sealed the win at Florida? Under the leadership of his roommate and mentor, Charlie Ward, Dunn helped lead the Seminoles to their first national title in 1993.

In Dunn's sophomore year, he became only the fifth running back in FSU history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season and was named the Sugar Bowl MVP. In 1995, Warrick became the first two-time 1,000 yard rusher in school history and was 12th in the nation with an 8.73 scoring average per game.

Fans strained to see Warrick Dunn at the spring game in Doak Campbell, but they had look over at Mike Long Track. The two-sport All American showed his versatility qualifying for the NCAA outdoor championship in both the 100 meters and the 4 x 100 meter relay. He became the first two-sport All-American at FSU since punter/decathlete Rohn Stark earned the status in 1981.

Seminole fans were on pins and needles in January of '96 as Warrick contemplated heading for the NFL. His announcement that he would remain for his senior season sent a sigh of relief throughout FSU fans abroad. Most remember is statement at the press conference, "I haven't had money for 21 years, so what's another year?"

And that year was full of great Dunn plays as well, with the most memorable coming once again against the University of Florida. It was No. 1 vs. No. 2 as the Seminoles hosted the Gators in front of 80,000 in Doak Campbell. Dunn rushed for 185 yards to lead the Florida State to a wild 24-21 victory and a berth into the national championship game.

And so Dunn's storybook college career came to an end as he left FSU with a heroic reputation and a degree in his hand. After the season, his #28 jersey was retired and joined the ranks of players Fred Biletnikoff, Ron Sellers, Ron Simmons, Deion Sanders and Charlie Ward.

He was the 12th pick overall in the 1997 NFL Draft and signed a substantial multi-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Over the last five years, the 5-9 running back had two 1000-yard rushing seasons and two Pro Bowl berths. He closed out his career with Tampa in second place on the all-time rushing list and ranks fifth on the all-time list for receptions. This season, Warrick will make his debut with the Atlanta Falcons.

In true Warrick fashion, one of the first things Dunn did when turning pro was to set up the Home for the Holidays program in which he provides hard-working single mothers with a down payment for a new furnished home. His program has provided 16 women and over 40 children in Tampa and Baton Rouge with a new home before Christmas. Home For The Holidays gained national attention after Dunn received the Florida Sustained Service Award in Tampa and the Giants Step Award in civic leadership presented by former President Clinton.

Quiet, gallant, heroic … many words describe Warrick Dunn but we like to think of him as a true Seminole.

Personal: Single. Received Giant Steps Award in civic leadership from former President Bill Clinton for his "Homes for the Holidays" program. The program has helped low-income families in Tampa and Baton Rouge, Louisiana buy homes through a down payment provided by Dunn, who also worked with area sponsors to furnish and outfit the homes. Plans to continue successful program in Atlanta. Honored with an "Oprah's Angel" by Oprah Winfrey on her show in spring of 2002 for his work on "Homes for the Holidays." Received recognition as one of The Sporting News' Top 100 most powerful sports personalities. All-America honorable mention selection by USA Today as a prep at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he played cornerback, quarterback and running back. Full name is Warrick De'Mon Dunn, born January 5, 1975, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Pro Career

Elusive, electrifying back who is a double threat as both a runner and receiver…Possesses exceptional game-breaking speed and quickness…Tough, gritty performer who played through a painful toe injury and hamstring problems last season (that would have shelved most players ) but still produced a career-best 68 receptions (fifth-best among all NFL runners) for 557 yards with three touchdowns…Finished strong at the end of 2001 campaign, averaging 112 rushing yards in the last five games…Two-time Pro Bowl selection in 2000 and 1997…Finished his career in Tampa Bay ranked second all-time with 4,200 career rushing yards and is fifth on the Bucs' all-time receptions list with 259 career catches for 2,384 yards…His 26 career touchdowns for Tampa Bay also are the sixth-best total all-time while his 17 rushing TD's is fifth…Averaging 52 receptions per season in five-year career…Reached the 1,000-yard rushing plateau two times in his career in 2000 and 1998…Has combined for more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving) in each of his first five NFL seasons…Has played in 76 career games with 65 starts…Plays prominent role off the field through his Nationally-acclaimed "Homes for the Holidays" program.

2001: Played in 13 games with 12 starts…Did not play vs. Green Bay (10/7), vs. Minnesota (10/28) and vs. Philadelphia (9/16) with foot/hamstring injuries…Played but did not start at Tennessee (10/14)…Rushed for 447 yards on 158 carries (2.8 avg.) and three TD's to rank second on the team…Ranked second on the squad with career-high 68 catches for 557 yards with three scores…Was the Buccaneers' workhorse at Dallas (9/9), rushing the ball 22 times for 56 yards (2..5 avg.) and catching four passes for 21 yards despite cramping during the second half…Carried the load at Minnesota (9/30), rushing for 65 yards on 11 carries (5.9 avg.) and catching five passes for 34 yards. Left the game with a sprained right foot after scoring on a six-yard plunge for the lone touchdown on the afternoon…Was sidelined vs. Green Bay (10/7) with a right foot sprain… Had early return from right foot sprain and turned in gutsy performance at Tennessee (10/14) with 10 carries for 16 yards with one TD and seven catches for 65 yards (9.3 avg.) and one TD. Two touchdowns were a five-yard jaunt and a 26-yard screen pass…Was declared inactive vs. Minnesota (10/28) due to right hamstring strain… Started at Green Bay (11/4), but saw limited action due to previous week's injury… Returned as the Buccaneers' featured back at Detroit (11/11), running the ball a team-high 17 times for 51 yards (3.0 avg.). Also caught five passes for 60 yards (12.0 avg.), including a 12-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown from QB Brad Johnson in the fourth quarter…Started at RB vs. Chicago (11/18) and tied for the team lead with a career-high 12 receptions for 138 yards, which was also a game-high and a career-high. The 138 receiving yards was the best single-game total for a RB in team history…Totaled 14 carries for 60 yards (4.3 avg.) at St. Louis (11/26), including a 21-yard TD run for the deciding points. Also had five receptions for 46 yards (9.2 avg.)…Posted nine receptions for 54 yards vs. Detroit (12/9)…Rushed for 32 yards on 10 carries and added five receptions for 46 yards and a 17-yard touchdown against New Orleans (12/23)…Vs. Baltimore (12/29) had 13 carries for 47 yards (3.6 avg.) and had two catches for 14 yards…Was declared inactive vs. Philadelphia (1/6)…Led the team in receiving in playoff game at Philadelphia (1/12) with eight receptions for 37 yards. Also rushed 11 times for 29 yards.

2000: Played in all 16 games with 14 starts, and also started playoff contest…Finished the season with a career-high and team-best 1,133 rushing yards on 248 attempts (4.6 avg.) and eight TD's…Finished third on the team with 44 receptions for 422 yards (9.6 avg.) and one TD…His 1,133 yards rushing marked the most since RB Errict Rhett (1,207) in 1995…Became third Buccaneer (James Wilder and Errict Rhett) to reach 1,000 rushing yards twice in a career…Became go-to-guy in the Bucs offense the second half of the season…Gained 366 yards in the first half of the season, but more than doubled that output over the last eight games (767 yards)… Averaged just under one rushing touchdown per game over that eight-game stretch after finding the end zone on the ground only one time in the first eight games…Club was 9-2 when he rushed for 50 or more yards…Opened the season at New England (9/3) with a team-leading 56 yards on 16 carries (3.5 avg.) and added one reception for five yards…Vs. Chicago (9/10), rushed for 53 yards on 14 attempts (3.8 avg.) and grabbed two passes for five yards…Had excellent all-around game at Detroit (9/17), gaining 34 yards on 10 carries with one TD and 49 yards on three catches (16.3 avg.)…Rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries (4.1 avg.) and one catch for 10 yards vs. the N.Y. Jets (9/24)…Caught four passes for 36 yards at Washington (10/1)…Netted 79 total yards in Monday Night game at Minnesota (10/9)…Led the team in rushing with 46 yards on eight attempts (5.8 avg.) vs. Detroit (10/19)… Had 89 yards rushing on 11 carries (8.1 avg.) vs. Minnesota (10/29) and posted only touchdown reception of the season on a 23-yard catch…Was instrumental in win at Atlanta (11/5), totaling 77 yards on 18 carries…Led the team in rushing with 55 yards on 14 carries vs. Green Bay (11/12)…In horrible conditions at Chicago (11/19), led team with 75 yards on 17 carries (4.4 avg.)…Picked up rushing duties with FB Mike Alstott out with injury and had 20 rushes for 106 yards (5.3 avg.) and two rushing touchdowns vs. Buffalo (11/26). Sealed the victory with a 39-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter, becoming the first Buccaneer to rush for more than 100 yards since FB Mike Alstott vs. New Orleans in 1999…Toppled the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive week vs. Dallas (12/3) with a career-high 210 yards on 22 carries (9.5 avg.) and two touchdowns. The 210 yards surpassed his previous career-best of 130 yards rushing at Detroit (9/7/97) and ranked as the second-best single-game effort in Bucs history. Performance marked the first back-to-back 100-yard games on the ground for a Buccaneer since Dunn accomplished the feat in Weeks 2 (130 yards at Detroit) and Week 3 (101 yards at Minnesota) in 1997. Exploded for a 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, marking the fourth-longest run in team history, including the second-longest TD run…Carried the load at Miami (12/10), registering 59 yards rushing on a career-high 28 attempts and also led the team in receiving with six receptions for 84 yards… Played spectacular game on Monday Night vs. St. Louis (12/18), reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career with 145 yards on 22 carries (6.6 avg.) and three touchdowns…Scored from two yards, 52 yards and one yard out to set a career-high and tie the team's single-game record for rushing TDs with three (also Reggie Cobb - 11/20/91 and Mike Alstott - 12/27/98)…Also had five receptions for 53 yards…Had 40 yards on 15 rushing attempts (2.7 avg.) and five receptions for 44 yards at Green Bay (12/24)… Picked up five receptions for 28 yards in Wild Card game at Philadelphia (12/31).

1999

Started 15 games, missing one contest (Minnesota, 12/6) with a left ankle sprain. Rushed for 616 yards on 195 carries (3.2 avg.). Caught a team-leading 64 passes for 589 yards (9.2 avg.) and two TDs. Assumed kickoff return duties during Tampa Bay's playoff push, averaging 19.5 yards on eight returns. Missed most of preseason with a hamstring injury. Opened the season with 46 yards on 15 carries against the Giants (9/12). Rushed for a season-best 82 yards on 24 carries in win at Philadelphia (9/19). Posted nine catches (four for first downs) for 82 yards in win over Denver (9/26). Totaled 101 yards from scrimmage at Minnesota (10/3). Caught six passes for 41 and one TD at Green Bay (10/10). Caught five passes for 27 yards versus Chicago (10/24). Recorded a career-high 11 catches for 77 yards at Detroit (10/31). Netted 96 total yards in win at New Orleans (11/7). Rushed for team-leading 66 yards against Kansas City (11/14). Carried 11 times for 48 yards versus Atlanta (11/21). Paced club with 57 yards on the ground in 16-3 win at Seattle (11/28). Snagged six passes for a career-high 115 yards in 23-16 win over Lions (12/12). Turned a screen pass into a career-long 68-yard jaunt, setting up Tampa Bay's first TD just before halftime. Had a team-leading five catches for 36 yards at Oakland (12/19). Paced Bucs with six receptions for 48 yards and one TD in 29-10 win over Packers (12/26). Caught 10-yard scoring toss from QB Shaun King to give Tampa Bay a 16-10 lead. Led team with 80 yards on 16 carries in division-clinching victory at Chicago (1/2). Opened fourth-quarter scoring drive with team season-long 33-yard run. Caught four passes for 32 yards and made crucial scamper in the fourth quarter of Bucs, 14-13 divisional playoff win over Washington (1/15). Scooped up a King fumble on 3rd and 3 from the Redskins 25 and raced 13 yards for a first down. Bucs scored game-winning TD seven plays later. Rushed for 35 yards and caught four passes for 37 yards in NFC Championship Game at St. Louis (1/23).

1998

Led team in rushing for second time in two pro seasons with 1,026 yards on 245 carries (4.2 avg.), becoming just the fifth runner in team history to crack the 1,000-yard mark. Finished ninth in the NFC in rushing yardage and eighth in total yards from scrimmage (1,370) after catching 44 passes for 344 yards. Scored two rushing touchdowns and posted a pair of 100-yard rushing games. Started 14 of 16 games and became the first primary rusher in team history to average over 4.0 yards per carry for two consecutive seasons. Snared a season-best seven receptions for 46 yards at Green Bay (9/13) while carrying the ball 12 times for 36 yards. Rushed 10 times for 82 yards in Bucs. Raymond James Stadium debut vs. Chicago (9/20), more than half of that total coming on a spectacular 43-yard touchdown run. Needed just 17 carries to rack up 96 rushing yards (5.6 avg.) against Carolina (10/18), netting 25 yards on a run that set up a Buccaneer field goal. Posted first 100-yard game of. 98 in win over Minnesota (11/1), rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries (6.4) to become, in conjuction with FB Mike Alstott, the first pair of backs in team history to have 100-yard outings in the same game. Also caught four passes for 49 yards to finish with 164 of the team. s 378 total net yards against the Vikings. Recorded second 100-yard rushing game in three weeks at Jacksonville (11/15), running for 107 yards on 16 carries (6.7 avg.). Did not start against Detroit (11/22) when team opened in two-TE set but still led team with 73 rushing yards on 14 carries and added 42 yards on three receptions for 115 total yards. Finished season with 89 yards on 19 carries at Cincinnati (12/27), in the process surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career.

1997

Started 10 of 16 regular-season games played and led the team in both receptions and rushing...Along with Pro Bowl honors, was named NFL Rookie of the Year by Football News, Pro Football Weekly and Sports Illustrated, and disgnated Offensive ROokie of the Year by the Associated Press, Football Digest and College and Pro Football Newsweekly...Other first-year honors included selection to Pro Football Weekly's and College and Pro Football Newsweekly...As team's primary ball carrier, gained 978 yards and four touchdowns on 224 carries (4.4 avg.). Also proved to by QB Trent Dilfer's favorite receiving target, catching at least one pass in every game and leading the team with 39 receptions for 462 yards and threee TDs. Combined yardage totals of 1,440 also stands as a Buccaneer rookie record and the fourth-highest single-season mark among all players in team history...Accounted for 100 yards onf total offense in eight games and broke off a team-high seven plays of 40 yards or more.

College Highlights

Became the first back in Florida State history to record three 1,000-yard rushing seasons...Finished as the Seminoles' career leader in rushing yards, gaining 3,959 to surpass Greg Allen's 3,769 (1981-84)...Warrick averaged 6.9 yards per carry as a collegian, a Seminole record and the top mark by an NCAA Division I-A player (minimum 300 carries) in 50 years (Army's Glenn Davis, 8.3 avg., 1943-46)...Also considered one of the nation's best pass catching backs, hauling in 132 career receptions for 1,314 yards...He scored 47 touchdowns during four seasons at FSU, breaking Allen's mark of 46...He has also completed three passes in seven attempts for 98 yards...Warrick did not miss a game during his collegiate career, appearing in 48 consecutive contests...He also broke Allen's school mark for all-purpose yards (4,996) with a total of 5,321 and his 21 100-yard rushing games are the most in school history...He graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in information studies.


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