Tommy Polley did it all. Regarded as one of the best high school athletes in the country out of Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland, Polley won multiple state championships in both football and basketball. Six total, in fact. He was also Baltimore’s back-to-back defensive player of the year for football in his junior and senior seasons. He topped it all off with being the state of Maryland’s Player of the Year his senior season and a top-60 basketball prospect.
So where does a top two-sport prep star choose to play college ball? Well, when your role model is Derrick Brooks and you are uber-talented at 6’5 and 230 lbs, Florida State, of course.
Polley enrolled in 1996 and redshirted, walking on to the basketball team. Polley’s basketball career at FSU never took off as he left the program after his freshman season to focus on football, feeling it gave him the best chance to go pro. He got his first start in football against Georgia Tech halfway through the season in 1998 and never looked back. He broke out in 1999, leading FSU to an undefeated season and its first national title in the Sugar Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies. He was named first-team all-ACC, finishing with a team-leading 76 tackles, ten for a loss, along with three sacks, two fumble recoveries, three pass breakups, and three blocked kicks. The last of those blocked kicks cemented Polley’s legacy at FSU. He squeezed through the Virginia Tech line and gave Beamer Ball a taste of its own medicine, blocking a punt that fellow ’Nole Jeff Chaney scooped ’n scored, giving FSU a 14-0 lead in the first quarter of a game FSU would later run away with.
In his senior season Polley again racked up tackles and accolades. He was a finalist for the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award for his injury comeback - Polley started every game in 2000 - and a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award, awarded to the nation’s top linebacker. He also added third-team Football News All-American and another first-team all-ACC nod to his resume. Most importantly, he was also a team captain and again led Florida State back to the national title game, this time against the Oklahoma Sooners. Florida State ultimately lost, 13-2, but Polley left it all on the field, with eleven tackles.
Polley finished his FSU career from 1997 to 2000 with 289 tackles, 170 of them solo, 19 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, two interceptions, 14 pass breakups, and all those blocked kicks. FSU went an unbelievable 45-5 during that span.
Polley was drafted with the 42nd overall pick in the second round of the 2001 NFL draft by the then St. Louis Rams. He finished his rookie season with 86 total tackles and a spot on the All-Rookie team. Polley played a total of six seasons in the NFL, finishing his career with the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints. He narrowly missed out on a Super Bowl championship as well, losing 17-20 in 2002 to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI while with the Rams. He retired from the league in 2007 after suffering a shoulder injury, hanging up his cleats with 386 total career tackles, over 300 of those solo, with six sacks and five interceptions. Polley coaches high school football now, and is a Hall of Fame member of both Dunbar High School and the state of Maryland.
(4) Florida State Seminoles (55-10) fell to the (13) Oklahoma State Cowgirls (44-15) 3-2 today in Tallahassee to end the season.
For the third straight game Samantha Show started for Oklahoma State in the circle and Meghan King started for Florida State. King started out strong setting the Cowgirls down in order including a pair of strikeouts. Cali Harrod started the game for FSU with an infield single. After a Carsyn Gordon popout, Harrod stole second. However, Show ended the threat with a strikeout and a ground out.
King hit Michaela Richbourg with a pitch to start the second inning. However, Leslie Farris was able to execute a nice double play after Taylor Lynch hit a sharp grounder to her at second base. Kiley Naomi flied out to end the inning. Dani Morgan worked a walk to start the inning for the Seminoles. After an Anna Shelnutt strikeout, Morgan stole second. However, she was stranded after a strikeout and a popup.
Chyenne Factor wasted no time putting the first run on the board with a solo shot to left. Sydney Pennington reached when King misplayed her grounder. Chelsea Alexander followed with bunt down the third base line that was fielded by Sydney Sherrill. Sherrill turned and fired to second but the ball sailed over Farris’ head into the outfield. Pennington raced to third. Alexander (perhaps intentionally) got caught in a rundown between first and second. Farris forced her back to first before throwing to Carsyn Gordon. Gordon fired to Shelnutt at home to try to get Pennington who was trying to sneak home. The ball hit off the top of Shelnutt’s glove and Pennington was safe at home for the second run of the inning. Alexander took second on the overthrow. King settled down from there and got three straight outs to end the inning. Show allowed a walk to Harrod but induced a ground ball double play from Gordon to end the inning.
Lonni Alameda inserted Kathryn Sandercock into the circle to begin the fourth inning. Sandercock started off well setting the Cowgirls down 1-2-3. Show continued to cruise retiring the Noles in order.
Factor continued her hot hitting in the fifth singling to center. However, Sandercock managed to get three straight outs to end the inning with no further damage. Shelnutt started the inning for FSU with a single. Deja Bush pinch ran for Shelnutt. After a Zoe Casas flyout, Makinzy Herzog singled to advance Bush to second. Farris followed with a single that scored Bush after some aggressive base running. OSU coach Kenny Gajewski responded by inserting Logan Simunek into the circle. Show moved to first base. Simunek uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Farris to move to second and Herzog to move to third. Simunek responded with a strikeout for the second out of the inning. Gordon came up and laced a screamer to short but Kiley Naomi made an excellent grab to save a couple of runs and end the inning.
Sandercock started the sixth by hitting Show on the knee with a pitch. Shalee Brantley came in to run for her. Brantley stole second and took third when Shelnutt’s throw ended up in center field. Madi Sue Montgomery delivered a sacrifice fly to score Brantley. Sandercock got two straight ground outs to end the inning. Simunek retired the Noles in order in the bottom of the sixth.
Sandercock induced three straight popups to keep the score at 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh. “Postseason Anna” Shelnutt started the inning for FSU in fine fashion by depositing a ball over the left centerfield fence to close the gap to 3-2. However, Simunek was not rattled and she ended the game with a strikeout and two ground outs.
Meghan King took the loss pitching three innings giving up two runs (one unearned) with two hits, two strikeouts and no walks. Kathryn Sandercock pitched four innings giving up one hit and one run (unearned) along with a strikeout and no walks. King had 52 pitches while Sandercock had 45.
Anna Shelnutt went 2-3 with a HR. Leslie Farris was 1-2 and recorded the other RBI for FSU.
Florida State had four errors in the game which resulted in two of OSU’s runs being unearned. Coaches, in all sports, often say that the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins in the postseason. That was certainly true today. OSU made the Noles earn all of their runs but FSU can’t say the same.
While the errors were certainly huge they weren’t the only factor. For the whole series (with the exception of the third inning yesterday) Show and Simunek were able to keep the Seminole hitters off balance. For the series, FSU’s top three hitters were 2-26 with eight strikeouts. Those same three hitters were hitting .390 entering the NCAA tournament. This trend continued today as those hitters were 1-8 today. Slumps happen in softball. It is just unfortunate that it happened to three of FSU’s best hitters at the same time.
This one will sting for a while. The Seminoles will feel like they let a winnable game (and series) slip through their fingers.
The focus will soon turn to next season. The Noles must say goodbye to four very important seniors (Zoe Casas, Cali Harrod, Carsyn Gordon, and Meghan King) however FSU will welcome a top 10 recruiting class. The foundation of the program is strong and the future is bright despite today’s disappointment.
(4) Florida State Seminoles (55-9) will face the (13) Oklahoma State Cowgirls (43-15) today at high noon in Tallahassee for the right to advance to the Women’s College World Series to be played in Oklahoma City. FSU dropped the first game on Thursday against the Cowgirls 3-1 in nine innings. The Seminoles bounced back last night to take the second game of the series 4-1.
The previous two games of the super regional have been started by Meghan King (30-6, 1.42 ERA) for FSU and Samantha Show (20-8, 2.39 ERA) for OSU. These two seniors are the probable starters for this game as well.
Today’s game, like all games of the Tallahassee super regional, will be played at JoAnne Graf Field at the Seminole Softball Complex and will be broadcast on ESPN.
The winner of the super regional will advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City where they will meet the winner of the Gainesville super regional in the first round of the Women’s College World Series.
In 1976, Bobby Bowden took over at the helm for Florida State football. Inheriting a team that had gone a combined 4-29 over the previous three seasons, Bowden authored a 5-6 campaign in ’76. Over the next 33 years that he ran the FSU program, he never again had a losing season.
And a big reason for the quick turnaround was another B.B.: Bobby Butler. A defensive back from Delray Beach, Florida, Butler was a four-year contributor for the Seminoles, playing in at least 9 games per season from 1977-1980. FSU improved immediately upon Butler’s arrival, going 10-2 in ’77 and finishing ranked in the AP Poll (14th) for the first time in program history.
Butler helped the ’Noles shutout Cincinnati, Syracuse, LSU, and Louisville (twice) while patrolling the defensive backfield, and his 11 career interceptions are still tied for 11th all-time at FSU. Butler was also an important special teams piece: his five blocked punts remain the most in ’Noles history.
Butler’s biggest year was 1979, a huge breakthrough year for Florida State. His six picks led the Seminoles to an undefeated regular season. Their only blemish came in a bowl loss to Oklahoma, but a No. 6 final AP ranking was the highest in program history to that point. Butler was an All-South Independent second-team choice in ’79, and improved to the first team the following year. He also earned an AP All-American honorable mention in ’79, and climbed to a third-teamer in 1980, when he was a first-team All-American for the Newspaper Enterprises Association.
Back to that quick turnaround accomplished by Bowden: during Butler’s tenure in Tallahassee, the ’Noles were 39-8 and appeared in two Orange Bowls. In 1981, the Atlanta Falcons selected Butler in the first round of the NFL Draft. He had a 12-year pro career, the entirety of it spent in ATL.
The Seminoles blew out the Wolfpack, now await their regional destination.
Florida State (36-21) was in control early and cruised to a win against North Carolina State (42-16) by a 11-0 final score in 7 innings due to the run rule. The win should be enough to convince the committee that the Seminoles belong in the field of 64, now it is just a waiting game to see where the ’Noles will travel to next weekend.
J.C. Flowers had himself a night as he singled in his two first two at bats driving in a run with each. His hot hitting continued in the 5th inning as he led off the inning with an opposite field homerun that lit up the Durham Bull. He would have three hits on the night, driving in 3 runs, scoring once and pitching a perfect inning in the 7th inning.
C.J. Van Eyk was once again dominant, just as he has been in the last month of the season. The sophomore was on cruise control most of the night as he tossed six shutout innings allowing only one hit. The right-hander now has 48 strikeouts in his last 25 innings and should be considered the best option to start game one of next week’s regional.
CJ joins Drew Parrish with his K of the year! 1️⃣2️⃣3️⃣ 3rd inning.
There were plenty of hits on the night as the Seminoles finished with 16 in total, 7 of them going for extra bases. Drew Mendoza recorded 3 hits, a sac fly and a walk as he drove in 3 runs and scored once. Six different starters had a multi-hit game and Florida State batters finished 9-19 with runners in scoring position.
It didn’t impact the outcome of the game but with runners on 1st and 2nd in the 2nd inning Mike Martin, Jr. gambled and tried to score Mendoza from second on a single to left field. It was a fantastic throw to gun him down but with 0 outs and J.C. Flowers on deck it probably was not worth rolling the dice.
In what you could argue was a “must win” game for Florida State they started Tim Becker in the outfield. Becker is a first year player for the ’Noles who spent the last 3 season playing club baseball and had just 6 hits in 28 at-bats coming into tonight’s game. Martin said he played because his normal outfielder was not 100% healthy and he liked how Becker had looked lately. But him being on the roster let alone starting is inexcusable. It just goes to show how much Martin quitting his responsibilities a decade ago has hurt the program.
It was not a great night for Nander De Sedas as he struck out three times and was the only ’Nole in the starting lineup to not get a hit. Include a misplayed pop fly in the field and the freshman had a night he would like to forget.
(4) Florida State (55-9) defeated (13) Oklahoma State (43-15) 4-1 tonight in Tallahassee.
The same two pitchers from last night entered the circle for both teams as Meghan King returned for FSU and Oklahoma State again tapped Samantha Show. They were on their game early as both pitchers retired the side in order with two strikeouts.
Show kept it going in the second inning as she got the Noles 1-2-3. King matched her pitch for pitch as she set the Cowgirls down in order.
Cassidy Davis started it off for FSU in the third by getting hit by a pitch. Davis was FSU’s first base runner since the fourth inning last night. Show had retired 24 straight Seminoles. That is an amazing feat against a line up of this quality. Zoe Casas beat out an infield single moving Davis to second. After Rock Benavides popped up a bunt, Cali Harrod walked the bases loaded. Carsyn Gordon worked another walk that scored Davis for the game’s first run. Sydney Sherrill delivered a sacrifice fly to right scoring Casas. Elizabeth Mason delivered a clutch single up the middle scoring Gordon and Harrod to give the Seminoles a 4-0 lead. Dani Morgan grounded out to end the inning. Sydney Pennington started the bottom half of the third with a single. Taylor Lynch moved Pennington to second with a single. After a Chelsea Alexander strike out, Rylee Bayless reached on a throwing error by Sherrill. Pinch runner Mady Lohman was out at second but Pennington scored on the error. King bounced back to strike out Show to end the inning.
OSU coach Kenny Gajewski replaced Show in the circle with Logan Simunek. Anna Shelnutt greeted her with a single. However, Simunek settled down and got three straight outs to retire Florida State. Madi Sue Montgomery started the inning with a bunt single. King then beared down to get three straight outs to end the inning.
Simunek continued to look sharp retiring the Seminoles 1-2-3 in the fifth. King did the same for the Noles with the help of a leaping snag at first by Gordon for the second out of the inning.
Mason started the sixth with a double in the gap that reached the wall. However, the Seminoles couldn’t capitalize as Simunek ended the inning with three straight outs. King sandwiched a single from Show between three outs to retire the Cowgirls with no damage.
Casas started the seventh with a walk. Deja Bush pinch ran for her but was caught stealing. After a Leslie Farris pop out, Cali Harrod walked. Gordon ended the inning with a ground out. King ended the game by retiring OSU in order via two strikeouts and a pop up.
Meghan King pitched seven strong innings scattering four hits giving up one run (unearned) with nine strikeouts and zero walks. King did this with an economical 84 pitches. It was King’s 30th win of the season and she now has 108 for her career which is one short of Lacey Waldrop’s school record of 109 wins.
Elizabeth Mason was 2-3 with two RBI including that clutch single in the third inning.
The Noles won this game with great pitching and clutch hitting. They are still having trouble with Oklahoma State pitching as evidenced by the fact that they only managed four hits for the game. However, if they can continue to perform in the clutch it won’t matter.
This team continues to impress in pressure situations. Remember that the nickname of last year’s team was the “Cardiac Kids”. Most of the players from that team returned for this year. It is clear that all of the magic from last year hasn’t left Tallahassee just yet.
The same two teams will play a winner take all third game tomorrow at noon. The game will be played at JoAnne Graf Field at the Seminole Softball Complex and will be broadcast on ESPN.
Can the ’Noles secure a postseason bid with a win?
The Seminoles dropped the opening game of pool play on Tuesday against Wake Forest thanks in part to terrible defense and an abysmal performance from their bullpen. Another loss tonight could end Florida State’s season unless they get some help from a year where the bubble is extremely soft and some love from the committee based on past accolades. NC State scored 4 runs in the ninth inning last night to comeback and defeat Wake Forest giving them plenty incentive to play today as they look to move on to the next round of the tournament.
No. 6 Seed Florida State will complete pool play against No. 3 Seed North Carolina State. The ’Noles faced the Wolfpack in Raleigh back in mid March and lost the first two games by a score of 0-16 and 8-9, before winning in the series finale by a 9-5 score. C.J. Van Eyk, who will start today, allowed 5 runs over 6 innings on 5 hits and 3 walks when he faced against the Pack earlier this year. NC State will turn Jason Parker, pitched 7 shutout innings when he started against FSU in game one of the series. He struck out 10, walked only 2 and scattered 5 hits — all singles.
FSU Overall: 35-21 // ACC: 17-13 // Home: 28-9 // Away: 7-10 // Neutral: 0-2 // Last 10: 5-5
NCST Overall: 42-15 // ACC: 18-12 // Home: 23-8 // Away: 15-6 Neutral: 4-1 // Last 10: 8-2
(4) Florida State Seminoles (54-9) will attempt to even their super regional matchup against the (13) Oklahoma State Cowgirls (43-14) in Tallahassee. FSU dropped the first game last night against the Cowgirls 3-1 in nine innings. The super regionals are a best of three series that will be played from May 23-25. Tonight’s game will be played at 7pm while Saturday’s game (if necessary) will be played at noon. All games of the Tallahassee super regional will be played at JoAnne Graf Field at the Seminole Softball Complex and will be broadcast on ESPN.
The winner of the super regional will advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City where they will meet the winner of the Gainesville super regional in the first round of the Women’s World Series.
Key was an impact player from the moment he stepped foot on campus, excelling not only as a rusher, but as a dynamic pass-catcher and kick-returner throughout his four year college career.
Beloved by fans, whenever Key would make a big play or the ’Noles needed to covert a big third down, Doak Campbell Stadium would erupt with the sound of car keys jingling. The Florida State faithful knew that good things happened when 44 had the ball.
Key played a large role in changing FSU as a program. When he arrived, FSU was not a good football team. In his first year they finished an abysmal 1-10. Key’s stats and playmaking ability grew year-by-year until his senior campaign when he helped lead the ’Noles to their first 10-win season. Not only was this a milestone of it’s own, but it proved vital to Bobby Bowden’s success in making FSU a powerhouse, helping recruit players that would make up the dominant teams of ‘79 and ‘80.
1977 would be the peak of Key’s career as the senior captain lead the country in all purpose yards and became the first player in program history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark, sprinting for 1,117 yards. This culminated in an AP All-American honorable mention for Key.
Adding to the lore of that season, FSU snapped a 9-year losing streak to the Gators, dominating them in the Swamp 37-9. Key tallied 185 all-purpose yards (143 rushing, 42 kick-return) in that game.
In his final appearance in the garnet and gold, Key went off for 314 all purpose yards (83 rushing, 100 receiving, and 131 kick-return yards, including a TD) as FSU dismantled Texas Tech 40-17 in the Tangerine Bowl. I’d say that’s the cherry on top of a fantastic college career.
Key was inducted into the FSU Football Hall of Fame in 1984 and remains FSU’s 5th leading rusher and is 7th overall in scrimmage yards.
Key is, without a doubt, one of the most electric players to come through Tallahassee and could easily be higher on the list depending on who you ask. So, what do you think? Should Key be ranked higher? Lower? Or is his ranking just right?
“I think you’ve got to recruit where you’re at. Chances of getting kids there and kids staying there are a lot higher when you get them from somewhere in the vicinity, where they live. Again, when you have a place like Florida State, a national brand, I think you can go out and recruit some of the best.” “You’ve got to do a great job of evaluating and making sure you get the right kind of kid to be able to leave far away from home, because I think it takes a special kid to leave somewhere far and go somewhere else and go to school. There are a lot of special kids out there that are able to do it and have a lot of success.”