Where are they Now: Monk Bonasorte

Where are they Now is a feature that started on Noledigest. This week Noledigest had the pleasure to speak with former Seminole great Monk Bonasorte. Bonasorte discusses his experience at FSU as a player , his current profession, Ron Simmons & his thoughts on the program.

You are the president of the Varsity Club. Can you talk about what the Varsity Club is and what you do?


MB: The Varsity Club is an alumni group for former athletes. They are male and females who lettered in sanctioned NCAA sports. We are the only school that has skyboxes for former athletes, as we have two boxes at the stadium. We also have enough room to cater to 200 people who can come up and hang out with the former athletes and all. We raised $3.2 million as a group for the skyboxes. We do banquets for the school's Hall of Fame, we hold a BBQ before the first home game, and we have annual reunions for former players just to name a few things. Our motto is athletes helping athletes.


What else are you involved in at Florida State?


MB: I am on the athletic committee, which is like an oversight over all of the programs at Florida State. That is something I take seriously. I also do some pre-game radio, which is nice because I have been apart of the school for so long. Being a former player and all I am happy to be apart of these programs.


You are originally from Pennsylvania. How did you end up at FSU?


MB: I came to Florida State as a walk-on. I had zero offers coming out of high school. I actually played sandlot football before I got to FSU. I came from a very small Catholic school. We had no players who had a shot to play in college. I think we won 2-4 games my entire time in high school. We just didn't push it.


For a guy who was a walk-on, you sure turned out to be a great at FSU. Can you talk about your experience as a player?


MB: Back then we didn't have the exposure teams do now with ESPN and the internet and all of that. In 1980 I think our defense gave up a total of 85 points, none in the fourth quarter. We had 2 guys that had NFL ability, but we did a lot more with less. We cared about each other and played as a group. It was just a great time to be a Nole. We'd come home from away games and there would be 2,000 people at the airport waiting for us. It was a great experience. We have a lot of reunions as a team just so we can stay in contact with each other. I was able to hold the interception record at FSU for 20some years, and I was a two time All-American in 1979 and 1980. Probably my personal highlight was beating Pitt twice, one at home and one away. Being from there, it was just huge for me. I really think at that time they had one of the greatest teams ever in college football. I think 12 guys went on to play in the NFL. I intercepted one of Marino's passes, which was a highlight. For a walk-on that became an All-American and Hall of Famer at FSU, it is just one of those pinch me deals. It is a fairy tail type thing. I really credit my defensive backs coach Jacky Stanton. If it wasn't for his coaching and prodding, I wouldn't been able to achieve the things I was able to.


How was it playing for Coach Bowden?


MB: Bobby got there in 1976, and I got there in 1977. As time goes on and I look back, I can say I played for this man. It is never said what school people go to, but when you mention FSU you think Bobby Bowden. People don't realize how long he has been there. It's a great thing to tell my kids and his friends that I played for Bobby Bowden. The thing about coach is what he does for his players on a personal level. He has a big impact on kid's lives. He does so much for them and is just a great man. When former players come to the Varsity Club or by the school, he always makes sure that I bring them to his office. He will always make time to sit and talk to them, no matter how long it takes. He is a great friend and is just a sincere, loyal and father-figure to many people.


Did you make it to the NFL?


MB: When scouts came by the school for testing, I ran a 5.0 forty, so I knew I didn't have a shot. I was just happy to have been able to play college football. I didn't beat myself up about not playing in the NFL. I did a lot with the talent that I had.


Ron Simmons is one of the greatest Noles ever. Can you discuss playing with him?


MB: When he came in, again there was no ESPN or anything. Colleges were only allowed to play twice a year on national television and 5 times over a two year span, depending on if the game was a special occasion. So these games were mostly regional. We were probably one of the most dominant players to play football. Good defensive backs are good because of great defensive linemen. I always joke with him about that. Without the pressure he got on the quarterback I would have never been able to do what I did. DB's cannot cover all day, and with him the ball always came out quick and I was able to make plays. He is the quickest guy off of the ball I have ever seen. We talk every couple weeks. As a team we are just close. I often joke with him that I want to be his wrestling manager and that I want to get into the ring and talk smack with him. He was just a dominant force.


Can you talk about your feeling being inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame in 1995?


MB: When you look at all of the great DB's FSU has had, it's just a great honor. Before FSU I never played corner in my life. Being in the Hall of Fame is icing on the cake for me, and it sealed my dream. It is something that I have forever and its something I can show my kids and their friends. It's just a great, great thing.


You were a scouting coordinator for the USFL. What did that entail?


MB: I stayed at FSU and served as a Grad Assistant in 1983 and 1984, after that I moved to Jacksonville to become their scouting coordinator. I stopped doing that because the league dissolved. Mainly I just traveled around looking at players. I was at the Orange Bowl for the Boston College vs. Miami when Flutie threw that bomb. It was a tricky job because the better players were heading to the NFL, thus we had to look at the mid-range guys who weren't good enough to play in the league. I really enjoyed doing that.


What are your thoughts on the coaching changes?


MB: When you see Coach Bowden, you see that he has new bounce in his step. It was tough for him though because he had to watch his son go. The new coaches bring renewed excitement and new ideas, and they have brought new perspective from other schools. For coaches that have been at a school for a long time, they don't realize when changes need to be made, and that was the case at FSU. The new coaches have the ability to put the players in the right positions to get it done. At practices you can see the intensity level is up and the confidence of the players is there. I have seen things on the offensive side of the ball that we haven't been able to do for some time. These coaches bring an ability to call plays and a reputation to FSU. But we have to be careful to temper expectations.


What are your expectations for this year?


MB: FSU has some depth and talent concerns at a few positions, but the early recruiting has shown that FSU will be okay down the road. People need to be careful with what they expect this year. I think a 9 win regular season is a success with the brutal schedule FSU has. These coaches and players have a lot to prove, as do teams at Alabama and Virginia Tech. I do think this will be a successful year for the Noles.

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