FSU Football: Notable Father-Son Legacies

FSU Football: Notable Father-Son Legacies

This piece originally was published by The Daily Nole on June 17, 2016

Florida State picked up a second legacy commitment for 2017 on Thursday as 5-star cornerback Stanford Samuels III pledged his services to the Seminoles.

Samuels’ father Stanford Samuels played cornerback for FSU from 1998-2003. Florida State has also received the commitment of linebacker Bradley Jennings Jr. His father, Bradley Jennings, was a linebacker at Florida State from 1997-2001.

Samuels and Jennings however, aren’t alone. Throughout Florida State history, there have been plenty of players who watched their sons follow in their footsteps in Tallahassee. Here’s some notable father-son legacies to play at FSU:

Mario Edwards (CB, 1995-1999) and Mario Edwards Jr. (2012-14)

Both played on the defensive side of the ball and both wore No. 15, but Mario Edwards and son Mario Edwards Jr. were very different players during their times at Florida State. Edwards the father was a solid cover corner, who recorded six interceptions as a junior in 1998, including a school-record four in a 24-7 victory over Wake Forest. A large defensive end at nearly 300 pounds, Mario Edwards Jr. was a staple for the FSU defense in 2013 and 2014. Though he finished with just eight career sacks, the younger Edwards was great at setting the edge. Both players also enjoyed perfect national championship seasons during their tenures.

Dan Footman (DE, 1990-92) and Dan Hicks (DE/LB, 2009-13)

A junior college transfer, Dan Footman recorded 8.5 sacks and 102 tackles over his final two seasons at Florida State before going on to play six years in the NFL. His son, Dan Hicks, was moved from defensive end to tight end before finally starting the 2013 season-opener against Pittsburgh as a linebacker. During the Seminoles’ 2013 national championship season, Hicks recorded 25 tackles, 5.5 for loss and an interception.

Steve Gabbard (DT, 1984-88) and Stephen Gabbard (LS, 2014-present)

Over the final years of his Florida State career, Steve Gabbard was a load for the Seminoles at defensive tackle, recording four tackles for loss as a senior in 1988 when he was named an All-America honorable mention by the Associated Press. His son, Stephen, doesn’t play either offense or defense, but has been the team’s long snapper since 2014.

Willie Jones (DE, 1975-78) and sons Willie (DE, 2001-05) and Christian Jones (LB, 2010-13)

A South Florida native, Willie Jones was one of Florida State’s best pass-rushers for Bobby Bowden’s early teams, tallying 17 total sacks over his final two seasons. As a senior in 1978, Jones was named a second-team All-American. Willie Jones would have two sons play at Florida State — Willie and Christian. Willie, the oldest son, battled injury for much of his career before finishing his playing days with four sacks. Christian Jones was a big-time contributor in each of his final three seasons with the program, including as a senior on the 2013 team that yielded the fewest points per game in the country and won the national championship. Jones finished his FSU career with 225 total tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one touchdown.

Paul Piurowski (LB, 1977-80) and Caz Piurowski (T/TE, 2006-09)

Paul Piurowski was a star for the Florida State defense during Bobby Bowden’s early years as head coach of the program. Over his final two years, Piurowski recorded 245 tackles, eight sacks, two interceptions and five forced fumbles as the Seminoles moved from football’s doormat to the national stage. At 6-7 and more than 270 pounds, son Caz Piurowski spent most of his career playing tight end, but did briefly start at tackle. Piurowski’s best season came as a senior in 2009 when he caught 13 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns.

David Ponder (DT, 1980-83) and Christian Ponder (QB, 2006-10)

David Ponder had a stellar career for Florida State, recording 131 career tackles and 14 career sacks for the Seminole defense. The highlight of his career may have been a safety sack against eventual national champion Miami in 1983. Rather than playing as a defensive lineman, Ponder’s son Christian spent his time trying to avoid them. Christian Ponder was a 3-year starter at quarterback for FSU from 2008-10. Ponder accounted for 59 total touchdowns during his career, including 24 as a senior in 2010 when he guided the Seminoles to their first 10-win season in seven years.

Bill Rhodes (T, 1966-68) and sons Billy (DL/FB, 1994-98) and Bobby Rhodes (LB, 1995-99)

A star offensive lineman on Bill Peterson’s Florida State teams, Bill Rhodes had two sons go on to play for head coach Bobby Bowden in the mid and late 1990s. Billy Rhodes spent most of his time on the defensive side of the ball with a brief stint at fullback. As a senior in 1998, Billy Rhodes recorded 34 tackles and three sacks. His brother, Bobby Rhodes, had his best season a reserve linebacker on FSU’s 1999 national championship team, recording 65 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

Billy Sexton (QB, 1972-73) and Wyatt Sexton (QB, 2002-05)

Billy Sexton was never as successful as a quarterback as he was a coach. In 1973, Sexton went just 51-for-128 passing for 754 yards, four touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Sexton returned to FSU in 1979 to be an assistant coach. Sexton served as running backs coach from 1983-2006. His son Wyatt Sexton would have a bit more success for FSU as a quarterback. Sexton started seven games for the Seminoles in 2004, highlighted by a 20-for-26, 275-yard passing effort in a 36-3 win over No. 6 Virginia. Sexton passed for nearly 1,700 yards as a redshirt sophomore that season and was projected to be the starter in 2005 before Lyme disease derailed his career.

Ernie Sims (RB/LB, 1977-81) and sons Ernie (LB, 2003-05) and Marcus Sims (FB, 2006-08)

A running back, Ernie Sims struggled to get into the mix during his time in Tallahassee, finishing with just 273 career rushing yards on 58 carries before moving to linebacker as a senior. For his two sons however, that was not a problem. Ernie Sims played linebacker for the Seminoles for three years, totaling 200 career tackles, 21 for loss, three forced fumbles and two interceptions. As a sophomore in 2004, Sims was recognized by ESPN as a first-team All-American. Like his dad, Marcus Sims wore No. 35 and played in the FSU backfield. Sims was primarily used as a blocking back for Antone Smith, but did finish with 211 career yards and two touchdowns. Sims transferred to North Alabama for his senior year of 2009.

Mike Ferguson is the lead writer for Double Fries No Slaw. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

Mike Ferguson

Mike Ferguson is the lead writer for Double Fries No Slaw and has more than 10 years of experience in online and print journalism. Mike graduated from Florida State University in 2009 and has had his work featured at numerous prominent publications such as Fox Sports, the Associated Press, Athlon Sports, Yahoo Sports and Sports Illustrated among others. Prior to joining Double Fries No Slaw, Mike was the founder and editor of The Daily Nole. He also serves as the managing editor for Fifth Quarter and is a contributor for Athlon Sports, Fish Stripes and Orlando Pinstriped Post. Mike and his wife Jennifer reside in Haines City, Fla. and have two daughters.