Florida State lost a valuable member of the 1993 national championship team in Marvin Ferrell, who selflessly moved from from tight end to offensive tackle mid-career.
Ferrell was just as selfless in life, too, spending decades working as a mentor to kids.
He passed away after a battle with cancer on Monday, an FSU teammate, Patrick McNeil, confirmed to the Osceola. Another FSU teammate, Richie Andrews, first reported Ferrell’s death late Monday night on Twitter.
Ferrell, 49, lived in Bradenton, Fla., and was the executive director of AMI Kids, which works with youth in Manatee County who have a troubled past and look to ensure a bright future. McNeil said that Ferrell has been working with AMI Kids for about 25 years.
“His passion was kids,” McNeil said. “He was a great guy. He loved what he did. He loved the kids.”
A Parade All-American tight end at Jacksonville Raines, Ferrell chose FSU over Auburn and Georgia Tech. “With the kind of class Florida State has recruited,” Ferrell told the Florida Times-Union in Feb. 1989. “With everyone who is coming in, I think we could have a chance to win the national championship. Yes, that was a factor.”
Ferrell did just that in helping the Seminoles claim their first national title with a victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. He was also a 1993 All-ACC team honorable mention pick.
At FSU, Ferrell moved from tight end to offensive line in the middle of his career and started 20 games on the offensive line in 1992 and ’93, including all 13 during the national championship season.
“What a great young man,” then-FSU offensive coordinator Brad Scott said. “We needed some help at tackle. He made that move for us and he was excellent. Excellent feet, big body.”
Scott had recruited Ferrell as a tight end but the Seminoles had a need on the offensive line going into the 1992 season.
“When Kevin Mancini graduated we had a hole to fill at tight tackle, and Marvin moved from tight end to tight tackle and ended up being the answer,” said Osceola analyst Mark Salva, then an FSU graduate assistant who worked with the offensive linemen. “I vaguely remember floating a trial balloon to him about the move. For Pokie, having that talk was like during mat drills, when you hear the 5 a.m. wake up knocks down the hall from you, getting progressively closer to your door, but you can lay in the bed until they actually knock on the door. It’s inevitable, but you hold on as long as you can.
“That’s what I think it was like for Marvin. He knew, we knew he was going to be a tackle. It was only a matter of time. He ended up being a damn good one. An integral piece that got us over the hump.”
Ferrell was remembered fondly by FSU teammates. Here are some thoughts from them:
Center Clay Shiver: “Marvin was a great teammate and good friend. He had a willingness to help bring his younger linemen along and help us grow up.”
Tight end Dave Roberts: “I always admired Marvin for doing the right thing and switching from tight end to tackle to help the team.”
Defensive back Bill Ragans: “He was a great guy, super teammate and just all-around good person. Came in as a big, physical tight end. Was one of a great group of guys we signed from Jacksonville in his recruiting class. Always had a smile on his face.”
Wide receiver Matt Frier: “I was recruited with Marvin and got to know very well. We were very close. Great guy with a huge heart and one of my favorite people.”
Osceola writer Patrick Burnham contributed to this report