The Daily Nole

21 Days Until FSU Football: Terrell Buckley Snags 21 Career Interceptions

John Biever /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

There are 21 days left until Florida State football starts the 2018 season. As part of the offseason, we’re highlighting players, games, and specific moments from FSU football history.

On Sunday, it was former Florida State kicker Scott Bentley’s 22-yard field goal in the final minute of the 1994 Orange Bowl to lift the Seminoles to an 18-16 victory and their first national championship.

Today, it’s legendary cornerback Terrell Buckley and his school-record 21 career interceptions.

More than a quarter century after Buckley’s departure from FSU and fans will claim the university as “DBU” or defensive back university. Deion Sanders is obviously the most famous to play in the secondary, but the man they call T-Buck is a big reason for FSU’s claim to that moniker.

Recording 21 picks in a career is nothing short of outstanding at the collegiate level. Making it more impressive is the fact that Buckley did so in just three seasons.

Three of those interceptions came as a freshman in 1989 and two in a win over South Carolina. As a sophomore in 1990, Buckley started all 12 games for the Seminoles and elevated himself to second-team All-American status.

Buckley recorded six interceptions in 1990 and returned two of them for touchdowns. Buckley’s ability had become well-known across the country. Quarterbacks should have probably known better to continue throwing his direction in 1991, but their stubbornness culminated in arguably the greatest season ever for a Florida State defensive back.

In 12 games that season, Buckley recorded 12 interceptions, including two each in contests against Michigan, Virginia Tech and Florida. The most famous was Buckley’s 40-yard interception return for a score against Michigan and quarterback Elvis Grbac in a 51-31 victory at The Big House. Buckley’s 1991 season was so impressive that if all the statistics from his other two seasons were scrapped, he’d still rank in the top 5 in school history in career interceptions.

The 1991 season would culminate for Buckley with a Unanimous All-American selection and the Jim Thorpe Award, which annually goes to the nation’s top defensive back. He joined Sanders as the only FSU players ever to win the honor.

Buckley’s danger to opponents throughout his Florida State career was not only in the secondary, but with the ball in his hands. Buckley scored seven career touchdowns with three of them coming on punt returns. The most famous of those was a 69-yard return against Syracuse in 1989 in which he fooled the defense into thinking he called a fair catch before cruising to the end zone.

Buckley would go on to be selected by the Green Bay Packers with the fifth overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft. Buckley would record 50 interceptions over a prosperous 14-year NFL career and add eight career touchdowns with the Packers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, New York Jets and New York Giants.

Although he never made the Pro Bowl, Buckley ranks 35th in league history in picks. Buckley was inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame in 2003.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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