TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Peter Warrick stood on the field and looked around, the emotion apparent on his face.
“When they started yelling my name, I was like, ‘Oh this is real,’ Warrick said. “I almost cried but I didn’t want all these people out here seeing me cry like that. It was so special.”
On a night where past met present, one of Florida State’s all-time greats had his name etched into the fabric of Doak Campbell Stadium. In the space he once dazzled over 80,000 every week, Warrick watched his No. 9 jersey get retired. His number, forever hanging under the scoreboard meant a lot to the former wide receiver. It had been on his mind leading up to the game against Virginia Tech.
“I’ve been thinking about it all week,” Warrick said. “I didn’t think it was going to hit me like that when I was on the field. I was nervous, but I just thank God for this opportunity that I have, just cherishing this moment.
“It gave me chills.”
From 1995 to 1999 Warrick was one of the best players not only to wear the Garnet and Gold, but one of the stars in all of college football. With over 3,500 receiving yards and 32 touchdowns in his career, he will no doubt be remembered as one of the most electrifying players of his generation.
With his game-changing ability leading the way, Florida State was 55-5 during his career, winning the 1999 National Title over Virginia Tech. What made this moment even more special, was having his head coach in attendance to celebrate with him.
“I saw (Coach Bobby Bowden) on the sideline and he turned around and looked at me and said, ‘Number nine huh?’ He told me he loved me, that was a special moment,” Warrick said.
Warrick, who became just the 10th player ever to have his jersey retired at FSU, had plenty of confidence in new Seminole head coach Willie Taggart, to return the Noles back to their winning ways.
“I think they can, with Coach Taggart and the way he instills belief. When you come to Florida State, it’s not just about football,” Warrick said. “When I go out to the practices, it’s totally different.”
Warrick has seen the type of leadership necessary to win at a high level. After all, he played for one of the legends in college football history. Warrick believes Taggart has made all the right moves away from the field to lead the Seminoles back to the top.
“I think the leadership Willie has shown thus far off the field, is what you need to have success on the field,” Warrick said. “I think that’s the way back (to winning).”
Seeing a friend reach the pinnacle of the coaching industry at a job like FSU is one Warrick can appreciate. Warrick played high school football against Taggart in Bradenton, Fla. He knew Taggart was always a fan of the Seminoles.
“It’s his dream,” Warrick said with a smile. “He’s always wanted to be at Florida State. It’s a great honor for him and I’m glad he’s here cherishing this moment.”
While the future of FSU is reliant on Taggart’s vision for the program, the Noles’ historic past is partly due to the vision Warrick displayed on the field during his playing days. As he stood on Bobby Bowden Field and heard the crowd chant his name, his instincts kicked in and the nostalgia of an era he once dominated came rushing back to him.
“I’m thinking I might go suit up,” Warrick said with a laugh. “Y’all might just see me sneak out there tonight.”