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How Peter Warrick’s Shoplifting Arrest Changed His FSU Legacy Forever
AP Photo

He may be seen as one of the best playmakers in Florida State University football history, but Peter Warrick’s 1999 arrest might have completely changed how his career turned out.

As one of the best players in the country on the best team in college football, Warrick hurt his season and his legacy with an arrest and suspension.

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After three seasons in Tallahassee, the star receiver from Southeast High School in Bradenton, Florida was known as one of the biggest threats in the nation and probably would have been a top-10 pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. However, he decided to stay in college and play for head coach Bobby Bowden for one more season.

Peter Warrick FSU Arrest

That decision looked like the correct one for the first month of the season, as he was seen as a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy after five games with 36 catches for 508 yards and four touchdowns, as well as scores on the ground and one passing score.

But unfortunately for him, a police officer witnessed Warrick and FSU teammate Laveranues Coles paying about five percent of what they owed at a Dillard’s Department Store. While buying some clothes, which were priced at $412.38, they paid just $21.40. The store clerk, along with the two Seminoles wide receivers, were arrested for grand theft.

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The arrest led to Coles being kicked off the team and Warrick being suspended for two games. Although his draft stock would recover enough to be picked at No. 4 overall in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, his legacy as a ‘Nole may have been hurt.

Warrick’s legacy isn’t hurt because he will be remembered poorly. It was hurt because he isn’t remembered as fondly as he could have been. With a good statistical career, a two-time Consensus All-American, three-time First-Team All-ACC selection, a national champion, and just a stud at wide receiver and on special teams, he could have had more.

Peter Warrick Heisman 

Before his suspension, Warrick was a top candidate for the Heisman. With an arrest and two games off the field, Warrick still managed to finish in sixth place for Heisman voting. Imagine if he plays those two games, one of which was against arch-rival Miami. Instead, it was Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne who went on to win the award.

In nine games, Warrick caught 71 passes for 934 yards and eight touchdowns. He also rushed for 96 yards and three touchdowns on 16 rushing attempts, and had a punt return for a touchdown on 18 returns for 227 yards — a 12.6-yard average.

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Peter Warrick National Championship 

His performance against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, which was the NCAA National Championship game, was his best game of the season when he had six catches for 163 yards and two receiving touchdowns as well as a 59-yard punt return for another score. Was named the game’s MVP.

There is a chance Warrick leaves New York as the Heisman Trophy winner and goes down as one of the best all-around players in the history of college football. But instead, he is remembered as a great player who never lived up to the hype in the NFL.

I can’t say his professional career would have changed much without the arrest. To have a short career like he did with the lack of success, it is unlikely it would have changed that. But he really could have been one of the greatest from the era.

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In six seasons in the National Football League for the Bengals and Seattle Seahawks, he had 275 catches for 2,991 and 18 touchdowns. He did play in the Super Bowl in his final season with the Seahawks, but only had four punt returns for 27 yards. He eventually went on to play a few seasons in the AFL and CFL until 2011.

READ MORE: Nobody Compares to Burt Reynolds’ Legacy at Florida State University

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