Full disclosure: This was the first fantasy draft of any kind I have ever done. Secretly, I was dreading it. What’s the best strategy? Who to pick first? It didn’t take long to get hooked. Within minutes, I was ready to plant a spear in David Hale’s lineup. Game on. This. Was. Fun.
Chris Weinke. Mine.
Greg Allen. Mine.
Charlie Ward, gone. Marvin Jones, gone. Deion Sanders, gone. Expletive, expletive, expletive.
My best pick, the one I will continue to brag about, came in the second round. With the first pick of Round 2, I chose center Clay Shiver. BOOM. Grown men wilted. Shiver was a three-time all-conference center who earned All-America status in 1995. Bobby Bowden called Shiver the best center he coached during his career at Florida State. I had one strategy entering this draft and only one -- get my quarterback and Shiver. Not only was he the best, but who else are you going to pick? Tom McCormick was my only other option.
The one player I really wanted to draft was Ward, (who doesn’t want a Heisman winner?) but with the third overall pick, he was gone already (Hale!).
Heading into the draft, I had a roster of about three-deep at each position to choose from, and if given the chance to do it again, I would have gone after more defensive linemen earlier. Defensively, I wound up with a lot of my second-team guys, but when you’re talking about the greatest players in FSU history, you can go three-deep at some positions and still snag an All-American (Tay Cody). Of those second- and third-string players I had listed, I’m going to call safety Chris Hope my best sleeper pick. He’s one of the smart guys (Academic All-ACC first-team), and he finished his career with 234 tackles, seven stops behind the line of scrimmage, 18 passes defensed, nine interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Oh, and he played in a Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl. Go Steelers.
Hope better be good, because I only landed one of my first choices in the front seven -- linebacker Paul McGowan. Peter Boulware, Ron Simmons, Corey Simon and Reinard Wilson were all gone. My most disappointing miss -- aside from Ward, of course -- was Simmons. He anchored the center of the defense that took FSU to the Orange Bowl in 1979 and 1980. He had an FSU record 25 sacks, and 44 tackles for loss. He was the first player on Florida State’s defense to have his number retired. Big miss. Huge.
But hey, I got Clay Shiver.
Overall, I’d match my team up against any in the ACC right now (or the SEC for that matter). I still got a Heisman Trophy winner. I got a Butkus Award winner. I got a two-time Lou Groza winner. A College Football Hall of Fame receiver. A Lombardi Award runner-up.
I also got a lesson in fantasy football: With a tradition as rich in history as FSU, this is one draft you can’t lose.