Fred Biletnikoff was the first great player Florida State ever had. Biletnikoff was Florida State's first consensus All-American in 1964 as he capped off his outstanding career in that season with 57 receptions as a senior, which ranked fourth nationally. That year he also scored 11 touchdowns, not counting his four-TD performance that year in the Gator Bowl. Fred came along in an era where the game was still dependent on the running game. Nevertheless, Fred had 87 receptions for 1,463 yards and 16 touchdowns over his career, resulting in a second round selection of the Oakland Raiders in 1965.
Biletnikoff starred at wide receiver for the Seminoles from 1961-64 drawing national attention to FSU's sophisticated passing game. Biletnikoff became FSU's first consensus All-American, which started the ascension of FSU in the eyes of the national media. His numbers as a senior were great, but they do not reflect his spectacular performance in the Gator Bowl where he set the bowl record with four touchdowns and 192 receiving yards in 1964.
Fred Biletnikoff was one half of a dynamic duo with quarterback Steve Tensi who lit up the field with their aerial attack. Biletnikoff was a sure handed receiver who played in the 60s under Coach Bill Peterson. He set school single season records for receptions (57), receiving yards (987) and touchdowns scored (11) as a senior. After the 1964 Miami game, he was honored as the Associated Press national back of the week, the first Seminole to be so honored. He finished his FSU career with 87 receptions for 1,463 yards and 16 touchdowns, which were all school records. His number 25 was retired as soon as his FSU career was completed. He went on to become one of the finest receivers in the history of the NFL playing for the Oakland Raiders and earning Super Bowl MVP honors. Fred may not have been the most athletic receiver Florida State has ever had. But he was a big-time clutch player who did the best he could with the tools he had. Biletnikoff was known as a wily, sure-handed receiver who made clutch catches to keep crucial drives alive. He had an uncanny ability to get open, even when everyone in the stadium knew that the ball was coming his way.
Besides being FSU's first great player, maybe the biggest reason he made this list was his collegiate career help spawn the annual Fred Biletnikoff Award that goes to the best collegiate receiver each season. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc., (TQC Foundation), the creator and sponsor of the Biletnikoff Award, is an independent, charitable organization founded in 1994. A number of people established the award and many more have contributed to its development as one of the most prominent in college football. The idea of a college receiver's award was not a novel one, as a number of organizations throughout America considered establishing it. The trophy, presented to each winner, is the most beautiful individual award in college football - it has won several national awards for design excellence and aesthetic appeal. Fred's career at FSU is one that can be compared to any of the other greats the Seminoles have had. He was the first trend setter for FSU and left records that were, when he left, by far more than any other receiver FSU had ever seen. That, combined with the award named after him, puts him as the 10th best player FSU has had on NoleDigest's list. Stay tuned tomorrow to see who comes in at number 9 as we countdown our list to the best Seminole football player of all time.