Aug. 30, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Florida State’s Sports Hall of Fame will grow by six members the night before the first home football game when Wanda Burns, Rhett Dawson, Jonathan Johnson, Herb Wills, Skip Young and Billy Smith are inducted as the 2006 class. A limited number of tickets are available for purchase by the general public for the September 8th ceremony that begins at 6:30 p.m. at the University Center Club
The tickets are on sale now for $75 and can be purchased by calling 850-893-6108 or via e-mail by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
FSU to induct: Wanda Burns (women’s basketball), Rhett Dawson (football), Jonathan Johnson (baseball), Herb Wills (track and field, cross country), Skip Young (men’s basketball), Billy Smith (Moore-Stone Award)
2006 FSU Hall of Fame Class
Wanda Burns was a highly-touted guard from Macon, Georgia when new FSU head coach Marynell Meadors signed her at Florida State in 1987.
Though she carried a 3.0 GPA in high school, she had to sit out her freshman season by NCAA rule. Burns used the year to hit the books and get acclimated to campus life. She took the court in 1988-89 with something to prove. She averaged 11 points per game and led the team with 92 assists, helping FSU to its first winning season since 1983. She electrified the team as a junior in 1989-90 setting an FSU record for free throw percentage and leading the team in scoring, three pointers and steals. She sparked FSU to a 21-9 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
In 1990-91, her final season, Burns led the Metro Conference in scoring with an average of 18.5 points per game on her way to being named the 1991 Metro Conference Player of the Year. She set an FSU single game record with 10 steals in a game, led the team in three-point shooting and scored in double figures in 38 consecutive games. Her exceptional play led FSU to one of its most successful seasons with a record of 25-7. She was also named MVP of the Metro Conference Tournament and earned Hanes Her Way NCAA Woman of the Year and Second Team All-American honors.
Burns still ranks among FSU’s top 10 in four career and 11 single-season statistical categories.
Rhett Dawson starred at Valdosta (Ga.) High School and was heavily recruited by most of the top programs in the south after earning all-state honors as both a junior and senior. FSU head coach Bill Peterson convinced him to come to Florida State where his older brother, Red, had a Hall of Fame career.
Dawson suffered injuries over his freshman and sophomore seasons at FSU that cost him early playing time. He came on strong as a junior in 1970 leading the Seminoles with 54 catches for 946 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 17.5 yards per catch and had a season-long 46-yard reception and five touchdowns.
He followed his outstanding junior season by being named third team All-America as a senior with 62 receptions for 817 yards and seven touchdowns. The touchdown totals do not include one of Dawson’s most memorable games. In the inaugural Fiesta Bowl against Arizona State in 1971, he scored three touchdowns and a two-point conversion setting a bowl scoring record that stood for 32 years. His name is still prominent in FSU’s record book 35 years later as he ranked 12th in all-time season receiving yardage, 10th in career receiving, 9th in total receptions for a season, 10th in catches per game, and 5th in career catches per game as the 2006 season kicked off.
Drafted by the Houston Oilers, he played for both Houston (1971-72) and Minnesota (1973) of the NFL before two all-pro seasons with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League.
Jonathan Johnson combined a great pitching arm with a love for competition that would eventually place him among the finest pitchers in the storied history of the Florida State baseball program.
Johnson signed with Florida State out of Forest High in Ocala, Florida, and made an immediate impact on the Seminole program. As a true freshman in 1993, Johnson was named ACC Rookie of the Year, placed in the top 10 in eight of 11 ACC pitching categories and culminated the year with a place on the Baseball America All-Freshman team.
He followed his rookie campaign with a 12-1 record and 137 strikeouts as a sophomore earning second team All-ACC and third team All-America honors. He was selected to Team USA that summer and finished with a 6-3 record. He overcame a broken ankle in his third and final season at Florida State to finish with a 12-3 record, leading Florida State to the ACC Championship in 1995 and a berth in the College World Series. He was a finalist for the 1995 Golden Spikes Award and was a Baseball America first team All-American.
Johnson would win 34 of the 39 games he started at Florida State with a 2.62 ERA and 391 career strikeouts, which ranked fourth on the all-time ACC career list. He was selected by the Texas Rangers with the seventh overall pick of the 1995 draft. He went on to debut in the big leagues with the Rangers in 1998 and enjoyed a six-year professional career.
Track and Field
Homegrown track star Herb Wills was one of the most accomplished distance runners in Florida State high school history and he wasted no time in getting his Seminole career started. Wills won four individual Metro Conference Championships as a freshman in 1978 in one of the most dominating performances in Metro track history. He followed that by winning FSU’s Outstanding Distance Runner honors in 1979 along with the title of U.S. Junior 10,000 meter cross country champion.
Wills would go on to set schools records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters outdoors and 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters, and 2 mile indoors. He placed fourth in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA national championships in 1980 and followed that with a 16th place individual finish at the NCAA cross country championships in 1981.
He finished his FSU career having earned All-America honors four times over the span of three years. However, his competitive career was not over as he became one of the top amateur distance runners in the country. He just missed making the U.S. Olympic Team as a marathoner in 1984, but bounced back at age 28 in 1989 to become the first American finisher at the Boston Marathon.
Wills’ name can still be found throughout the FSU record books including his school records in the indoor 3,000 meters (8:04.10) and 5,000 meters (14:00.10) that have stood for over 25 years.
He has continued his close connection to both Florida State and Tallahassee over the years by combining his passion for mathematics and athletics as a tutorial specialist to current FSU student-athletes.
Ed “Skip” Young
Skip Young was a high school star in the basketball-rich state of Ohio who, despite being heavily recruited by nearby Ohio State, decided to become a part of the program Hugh Durham was building at Florida State. Durham had brought the first African American player, Lenny Hall, to FSU only one year before. Due to Hall’s early season injury, Young faced the challenges of being effectively the first starting varsity African American athlete at FSU and one of the first in the Deep South at a predominantly white university.
Young led the Seminoles to an 18-8 record in his first season as starting point guard for the varsity team in 1968–1969. He helped lead Florida State to its most successful season in school history as a junior playing with future FSU and NBA Hall-of-Famer Dave Cowens on the Seminoles’ 1970 team that finished 23-3. During his three-year career, the Seminoles had an overall record of 58-20 and he became the school’s all-time assist leader.
Drafted in the seventh round of the 1970 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, Young played one year with the Celtics before he returned to earn his degree in criminology and social work from FSU. He is currently the head coach at FAMU High and led the Lady Rattlers to their first state championship in 2004.
Young’s ability to achieve success on the basketball court and in the classroom during a period of significant and often difficult social change was remarkable . It gained him the admiration of teammates, opponents, and the University community.
Moore Stone Award
When Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles take the field for the 2006 season, a familiar face will be right beside the FSU head coach as he has been for 42 seasons. This year Billy Smith will carry an extra title in addition to his state trooper rank of major – he will be an FSU Hall of Fame selection as the 2006 Moore-Stone Award winner.
In 1964, Smith was asked by then FSU coach Bill Peterson if he would be interested in traveling with the team, which was totally unique at the time. Peterson was looking to add credibility to a team still earning respect in its home state. The Governor of Florida agreed to the unique arrangement and they negotiated a salary of “zero”, which has been doubled every year since as Smith jokes.
Since that day, Smith has escorted the head coach and provided team security for FSU head coaches Bill Peterson, Larry Jones, Darrell Mudra and, of course, Bobby Bowden.
In 1992, he was presented with the Bobby Bowden Appreciation Award. He has also received a special award by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club and has been awarded the Circle of Gold by the FSU Alumni Association. Though never an athlete at FSU, Smith has also been given an honorary Varsity Letter.
Very few in the history of college athletics have been as close to a football program for so many years and even fewer garnered the respect and genuine affection that Smith has with his Florida State teams.