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'Noles make mark as ACC honors its best

FSU places eight players on list of league's luminaries.

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 24, 2002

PINEHURST, N.C. -- Not that long ago, folks told Joe Hamilton he lacked the size to be a major college quarterback, at least one who threw the ball and didn't primarily run it.

He didn't listen, and today he stands taller than his 5-foot-10 frame indicates.

The former Georgia Tech standout and injured Bucs backup was named to the ACC's 50th Anniversary Football Team.

"This is it," said Hamilton, who will be out for the season after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament during a game for Frankfurt in NFL Europe. "I don't rub it in anybody's face, but it's more gratifying to me and Georgia Tech, for allowing me to play. And here we are. The names that were called. Come on."

It is a lofty collection of some of the sport's greatest players, including Maryland defensive lineman Randy White, North Carolina linebacker Lawrence Taylor, N.C. State quarterback Roman Gabriel, Clemson defensive back Terry Kinard, Wake Forest quarterback Norm Snead, Clemson defensive linemen William Perry and Michael Dean Perry, N.C. State running back Ted Brown, Wake Forest running back Brian Piccolo, Maryland quarterback Boomer Esiason, Duke offensive lineman Mike McGee and Virginia offensive lineman Jim Dombrowski.

Oh yeah, Florida State also had a little representation.

Although only in the ACC since 1992, the school placed eight players among the group of 50 selected by a 120-member committee: Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke; linebackers Derrick Brooks and Marvin Jones; running back Warrick Dunn; receiver Peter Warrick; defensive end Peter Boulware; and placekicker Sebastian Janikowski.

"Isn't that something; we've been blessed, haven't we?" FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.

Weinke, starting his second year with the Carolina Panthers, said in a statement how special the honor is, especially given the tradition of the league.

"Each Sunday during the NFL season you are reminded of the talent in the ACC because you are going against the same guys in the NFL that you did in college," he said. "To have my name listed along with names like Randy White, Roman Gabriel, Lawrence Taylor and guys from FSU like Charlie Ward, Peter Warrick and Derrick Brooks is really something special.

"I'll never forget the four years I spent at Florida State playing in the ACC, and I'll always remember those as some of the best times in my life."

The ACC, which will unveil a top 50 for all 29 of its men's and women's sports during its year-long celebration culminating with the MayT8 anniversary, didn't attempt to rank the players. It will release a ranked Top 10 male and female athletes list in March.

"We want to celebrate the individuals who've made the league what it is today," ACC commissioner John Swofford said. "With the 50 years and the different eras, it would almost be impossible to rank the players 1-50."

For instance, former Duke quarterback Ben Bennett compiled eye-popping statistics -- 820 of 1,375 for 9,614 yards and 55 touchdowns -- thanks to the tutelage and play-calling of Steve Spurrier.

Not on the list.

Three decades earlier, Gabriel attempted 506 passes in his career, completing 285 for 2,951 yards and 19 touchdowns.

On the list.

"In those days, it was run the football first and pass on third down," said Gabriel, 62, who just finished a seven-year run on the Carolina Panthers' radio team and now promotes golf in North Carolina. "You maybe threw 13 times a game and seven were on third down when everybody expected you to pass. And receivers, it was hard to find guys who were quick and fast. We had a lot of guys who were 6-2, 6-3, but if you told them to run the 100, they'd probably run it in 11.2. They could catch the football, though."

So to make a tough job a bit easier, even if it did diminish some of the water-cooler debates sure to ensue with any such compilation, the league listed the players alphabetically.

That left arguably the best player -- Randy White -- at the bottom.

"I'm always last," quipped White, 49, the league's player of the year in 1974 who went on to a stellar career with the Dallas Cowboys and has been inducted into both the college and pro football halls of fame. "I'm used to it."

But he agreed that ranking players would have been a daunting task, and he was excited to be included.

"When I was a player, I never took the time to think about any honors because I knew you couldn't slow down for two seconds or you wouldn't get where you wanted to go," he said. "Now, at this point in my life, you look back and it makes you feel good."

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