Ron Simmons. That name set fear into Florida State opponents in the late 1970s. The former Seminole nose guard is considered to be one of the best, if not the best, defensive player ever to don the Garnet and Gold. Simmons is the guy who helped usher in a new era of FSU football while he absolutely dominated his opponent. When he signed out of Warner Robins High School in Georgia, he was one of Florida State's greatest recruiting victories. Midway through his freshman season, Coach Bowden said, "Simmons is turning the program around." Simmons went on to play for the Cleveland Browns and the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits and later became the first mainstream African American wrestling champion.
Any list of Seminole greats must include Ron Simmons. The Seminoles have a long, rich history of great defensive linemen, but none come close to Simmons as a player. He is without a doubt the most dominating defensive lineman in Seminole history. Simmons garnered all sorts of honors at FSU as he became the first FSU defensive player to be named twice a consensus All-American (1979 and 1980).
Simmons potential showed early as he made an instant impact his first game as a Nole. In a win against North Texas State Simmons was named national lineman of the week. Simmons stat line as a freshman is eye popping: 128 tackles, 12 sacks, 13 TFLs, 13 forced fumbles and I fumble recovery. That standout season led to him being named to every Freshman All-American team and a spot as an honorable mention AP All-American.
Ron followed up his freshman season with another strong year as a sophomore, but it was his junior and senior seasons that established him as a great player. He finished ninth in Heisman Trophy balloting as a junior in 1979 after recording 81 tackles, six sacks and 17 tackles for loss. As a senior he had 46 tackles, five for loss, and two sacks in 1980. Over this two year run Simmons was named to every important All-American team as he led Florida State to a pair of Orange Bowl appearances and FSU's highest-ever national rankings at that time when FSU finished 5th in the final AP poll.
The greatest defender in FSU history, Simmons' number 50 was retired in 1988, making him the first defensive player in FSU history to have his number retired. He was FSU's first two-time consensus All-American and was a finalist for the Lombardi Trophy in 1980.
He also led FSU to a Tangerine Bowl and to four consecutive victories over Florida. Simmons, a three-time All-South pick (1978-80), set school records for quarterback sacks in a career (25) and season (12) in 1979, a mark that held top ranking at FSU for 23 years and now ranks among the top five. He ranks second on Florida State's all- time tackles list (483) and career tackles for loss (44). In 1986, he was inducted into the Florida State Athletics Hall of Fame and in 2008 was chosen to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Ron was a transcendent player for FSU and would have been a star in any era for the Noles. Ron is the first player named to NoleDigest.com's top 3 and is a guy who can be argued as the best overall player to ever play at FSU. He was a defensive stalwart who left his opponents dejected but left the Seminole fan base happy. Simmons' impact on the program earns him a spot on this list as he is one of the greatest collegiate players of all-time.