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Players reflect on coach Bowden’s impact on their lives

Below are quotes from interviews with Florida State players on Sunday as well as a few that players shared on social media. We thank them for sharing their memories.

Derrick Gibson: Coach B showed me the way how to be a pro even though my name was Devin Gibson for about two years. Then he finally got it right. Truly the best coach I ever played for. I learned so much from that I apply today with my own staff. I can keep going on and on.

Amp Lee: Extremely sad news. Coach Bowden has meant so much to so many people. I still remember him coming to visit me at home like it was yesterday. He provided me an opportunity that I am forever grateful for. One of my favorite memories are the trips to Thomasville the night before the game. He’d always say “Amp, where are you”..I’m right here Coach. He’d look me dead in my face and say “Amp, I need you to be the best running back on that field tomorrow. Light it up”…I’d always respond “I got you Coach”..Prayers and blessings to the entire Bowden and FSU Family

Brad Johnson: I am so thankful and proud to say Coach Bobby Bowden was my coach! Coach Bowden shared his faith will all!! He cared about each one of us as players on and off the field. He inspired many of us to become great fathers, leaders and coaches in our own communities. He showed class and humility in all that he did. 

Jimmy Jordan: It was such an honor to play football for him but more importantly having him in my life. Living in the same town, I was able to continue our relationship. Greatest football coach ever, but his openness and kindness never faltered. We will certainly miss having Coach Bowden in our world.

Danny McManus: Coach Bowden is the first life coach. He made men out of young boys and promised their parents to make them better citizens when they finished at FSU. He led by example, his beliefs and how he treated people whether he knew them for years or just met them. I owe him everything for taking a chance on me as a player, choosing me to lead his team and to mold me into the person I am today. Not only an outstanding coach, a wonderful communicator, a great man of wisdom and awesome mentor to every person that had the opportunity to be on his team.

Kurt Unglaub: Coach Bowden was my head coach. He knew the wide receiver position because he coached it before. Second father and friend. He cared about me and I knew it every time I saw him or spoke to him. We laugh and always talk the 90-yard touchdowns. He was a blessing to me and my family. My heart is hurting.  

Bill Capece: Unlike any other head coaches I’ve known Coach Bowden actually liked kickers. He’s dealt with numerous wide rights and lost national championships. If any coach had a reason to dislike kickers it was him but coach had no hate in him. That’s just the man he was and is.

Todd Stroud: Coach Bowden was a fierce competitor with amazing wit and charm. The championships, wins and records will never define the legacy that coach left behind. His true impact in college athletics was the impact that he had on the lives of everyone he touched. He brought countless players to Jesus, and made us all better husbands and fathers. It’s not very often that you can call your idol and hero a true friend. All of us who knew Coach Bowden were truly blessed and touched by greatness.

James Chaney: (Chaney is a head coach in Lehigh Acres, Fla., and shared this text message with his coaching staff as well as the Osceola.) Coach Bowden transitioned into the spirit realm. The reason I bring this up is because he left a profound effect on my life as a man. I remember still to this day many lessons and examples he set for me and my teammates. Please strive to leave that life imprint on the kids you coach. Coaching is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a human being. Do not take this assignment lightly because lives, families and generations can be forever changed by your actions. From the bottom of my heart I love each and every one of you!

William Floyd: Coach took on your role as a father figure at the right time in my life! I know a lot of my Seminole brothers would say the same. Saint Bobby is an appropriate nickname but as I told you many times my nickname for you is ‘The Prophet’ because everything you said came true! You said ‘I would help you win your first National Championship, I would get my degree and I would play in the NFL.’ I trusted you and daggummit if it ALL didn’t come true! I love you, coach! Sending love, prayers and energy to the Bowden family and all my Seminoles!!!

Brian Allen: I appreciate the opportunity that was afforded to me to be in the presence of such a great leader. I really feel like a true leader is one that creates other great leaders through their leadership. Coach Bowden definitely will live forever through the branches that blossomed from his tree. Seeds will constantly be sowed from his fruitful tree.

Kyler Hall: From the time I was 5 years old Coach Bowden has been impacting my life. As a young kid being completely obsessed with Florida State and dreaming of playing for Coach Bowden — to having him in my living room as a high school recruit to being one of his players for five years to being a husband and father and to becoming a football coach myself. His example and words of wisdom have helped guide me throughout my life. There will never be another quite like Coach Bowden! Love you, coach, and thank you!

Tra Thomas: Extremely sorry to hear about the passing of Coach Bobby Bowden. He treated all of us like one of his sons. You will be missed but the lessons learned will never be forgotten. GO NOLES!!!

Wayne Messam: Coach Bobby Bowden for every hug after a TD, for every Pregame Bible verse devotion, for every second and third chance you gave, for every motivational speech, for every one of my teammates you recruited, for every phone call to ask me to be a Seminole, I thank you! Rest In Peace

Jacobbi McDaniel: RIP, Coach. What a life you lived. Thanks for giving me a chance to put on the best college colors ever. Garnet & Gold! I’ll forever cherish my freshman year 2009!

Greg Frey: He was the best coach of all-time in my opinion, certainly in my lifetime. He won a lot of football games and championships but he also won a lot of souls. He would never shy away from people that wanted to hear that message. I don’t think we will ever see another coach like him. Coach Bowden’s impact on peoples’ lives extended beyond his family and those that played and worked for him. He impacted the lives of people he didn’t know simply by how he lived his life.

Tony Yeomans: He impacted so many over his career. To many of us that never had a dad growing up, he filled that role. He helped us become who we are today. I lost of piece of my heart today.

Andre Wadsworth: All of the stories I ever tell about coach Bowden are personal. He had a huge platform of influence and he never squandered that influence on the largest scale. When you have a platform of leadership that can affect your life it really transcends and goes on generationally. He paid attention to everyone. He treated everyone like his sons. He always said I’m going to make time to take you to church on Sundays. It would be a Pentecostal church and then it would be a Baptist church. That’s not football. That’s real life things that can affect your life to make you successful along with your talent that may get you to a high level. It really made an impression on me.

Steve Gilmer: The more I see of this world, the greater my respect and appreciation for Coach Bowden grows. He showed me that hard work and people are the engines of organizational success. He also showed me that if you treat everyone with respect, focus on the fundamentals and be humble, blessings will come. Coach had a lot of catchy sayings but my favorite was: ‘Don’t pray for a lighter load, pray for a stronger back.’ Sustained excellence is the most impressive thing in sports and in life. Coach Bowden set the bar and I am thankful to have been one of his boys.

Bill Ragans: Coach Bowden has had such an impact on my life since the first day I arrived on-campus. The mark that he has left on so many of us as players will be well documented by all my Seminole brothers, but it is the other side of Coach Bowden that I will miss most. Countless times I would have to remind myself of the many lessons he shared with me and my teammates. He always made you want to be a better person. So many of the decisions that his former players make in the future will first be weighed by the thought: ‘What would Coach Bowden expect of me as a father, husband, friend and now as a coach as well?’ His legacy will live forever through the words and deeds of his former players and coaches. We love you, Coach Bowden!

Dave Roberts: If you think about it there have been very few people in the world of prominence that have been nearly universally revered with very few, if any, critics. Coach Bowden was one of those few. In my opinion that resulted from him staying true to his words, values and to God no matter what happened. Legend, and the true extent to that legend is being revealed by the reaction to his passing. Thank you personally Coach Bowden for everything you did for me and thanks as a member of our society in general for your immeasurable contributions to things that are right.

Rick Stockstill: He and my dad were the two biggest male influences in my life. I have been lucky with who I have coached with – Steve Spurrier, Lou Holtz, Danny Ford, Larry Little – but I try to coach and treat players like coach Bowden treated and coached us. He not only made FSU football but FSU! I could go on forever, but he had a huge impact on me and I’m honored to get to say I played for the greatest coach ever! I love Coach Bowden.

Pat Burnham and Jerry Kutz contributed