Warrick Dunn is as great an individual as he is a football player. And that is saying a lot.In 1993, Warrick Dunn was a teenager living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The eldest of six children, he was a football star in high school.
Football powerhouses such as Florida State and LSU recruited Dunn, even though at 5' 8", 180 pounds he was considered too small to be a college runningback. He grew up never knowing his father, and was a father figure to his five siblings. His mother had to juggle several jobs and double shifts as a police officer, so Dunn cooked the meals, cleaned the house, and took care of the children.
Then, just two days after celebrating his eighteenth birthday, Dunn's maturity and survival skills faced the ultimate challenge. His mother was escorting a grocery-store manager to a bank to make a deposit when two gunmen appeared and fired. She was dead before she could react, and Warrick Dunn and his siblings were left without a parent.
At FSU, Dunn made a name for himself. He provided fans with some of the most memorable moments in FSU football, but he never wanted attention. It was his job to be in college because he had to help his family. After four years(1994-1997), he graduated with a degree in information studies, but his work on the football field was incredible. He finished as the all-time rushing leader in FSU history with 3,959 yards, and scored 47 touchdowns, another school record.
Warrick Dunn's four-year career at Florida State established him as one of the most popular players in all of college football and the finest running back in the 50 year history of Florida State football. Dunn is the only Seminole to ever rush for over 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
His 3,959 career rushing yards broke Greg Allen's school record set in 1984. Dunn also broke Allen's single season rushing record when he ran for 1,242 yards as a junior in 1995. Dunn has the record for most touchdowns scored in a career with 49 over four seasons and rushed for over 100 yards more times (21) than any player at FSU. He was a three-time All-ACC selection as well as a member of the ACC all-academic team. He was selected to the first team Football Writer's All-America squad as a senior and second team Associated Press honors that same year.
Pro scouts said Dunn was too small to play in the NFL, but again he proved he had a big heart. He was drafted in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which meant he had accomplished his goal, and could comfortably support his family with his multimillion-dollar contract. Dunn starred in the NFL in his first season, and was chosen Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Dunn also makes a tremendous mark off the field. Since 1997, Dunn has run a program called Homes for the Holidays. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, he pays the down payments on houses and completely furnishes them with everything from sofas to toothpaste. Dunn does this out of the generosity of his heart in memory of his mother. To date he has helped more than 25 mothers and 100 children into their own homes. He doesn't do this for publicity, but to see the joy on the women's faces. He wants children to grow up in their own home, so he provides this remarkable gift.
He was inducted into the FSU Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Dunn's jersey is the first to be retired by Florida State. His number (#28) may be worn in the future by FSU players, but his jersey will always be displayed in the Moore Athletic Center along with the five previously retired numbers
Monday, November 27, 2006
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