- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Regarded as the best defensive back and overall athlete in Florida State history, former cornerback Deion Sanders (1985-88) will join former Miami defensive tackle Russell Maryland in this year’s FBS College Football Hall of Fame class.
Sanders wowed fans with his acrobatic interceptions, and he was one of the nation’s most electric punt returners. He won the 1988 Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back, and finished his career with 14 interceptions -- a number that ranked second all-time at FSU when he left in 1988. That didn’t include three picks he had in bowl games. During his junior and senior seasons, Florida State was 11-1 with a pair of New Year’s Day bowl wins. In 1988, he ranked among the top 10 nationally with five interceptions in nine games. That year, he was also the nation’s top punt returner with 15.2 yards per return. He also set the career record for punt return yardage when he left with 1,429. Sanders ranks third on the FSU career interceptions list and still holds seven school records for interceptions and punt returns.
Sanders was one of the most athletic players the program has seen, as he was a three-sport star in football, baseball and track and was eventually a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and also started in centerfield for the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds. He was the fifth pick in the 1989 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons, won two Super Bowls with San Francisco and Dallas, and also played in the World Series with Atlanta. Sanders had his jersey retired in 1995.