Teammates remember former FSU TE Tom O’Malley

Former Florida State tight end Tom O’ Malley, who played for the Seminoles from 1985-88, passed away Saturday night.

O’Malley, 54, caught 43 passes for 479 yards and three touchdowns over four seasons. The Darien, Conn., native leaves behind two daughters, Kelly, 13, and Riley, 11.

He was living in Norwalk, Conn., at the time of his passing.

“Tough news to share. A good friend and teammate of mine, Tom O’Malley passed this afternoon! Prayers!!! Two beautiful girls, please keep them in your prayers,” former teammate Bill Ragans said on Facebook.

“With everything going on in this world right now, reality sets in this week when you lose two of your brothers,” posted former teammate Tony Yeomans on Facebook. “Marvin Ferrell and Tom O’Malley, we as your teammates were blessed to be around you and be a part of building a dynasty. We’ve lost too many of our teammates in the last few years. Tomorrow is never promised. Prayers for the families.”

“Tom was my roommate for five years at FSU,” said former teammate Joe Ionata. “We had so many incredibly fun times. After graduation we stayed close and in the mid 2000’s we were fortunate enough to work together for two different companies. I am so grateful that over the past year, we had many great conversations. The last one was so fun, rehashing some of the playing days memories. We were laughing our heads off. But, what I remember most about our last conversation was how proud he was of his two daughters. Tom will be missed greatly.”

“For me, Tom’s passing is an especially poignant temporal marker,” said former FSU punter Louis Berry. “We came to FSU in the same recruiting class; therefore, we took a lot of the same freshman and sophomore classes together until we declared our respective majors. This was a time in both of our lives when we were transitioning from boys to men, with the help of the coaching staff. I always admired Tom for his positive energy, and its broad expression amongst his teammates. At my age these untimely deaths seem to occur all too often. Although Tom’s earthly journey has ended, I’m certain his soul is embracing the next experience that God has in store for him.”

“I’m just bummed right now,” said former FSU tight end Pat Carter. “We came in together in the same class and had been in touch lately. He was just a great guy. At a loss right now.”

“When I reflect back to my playing days, of the times I treasure most, Tom O’Malley is always a huge part,” said former teammate Mark Salva. “I think back to the practice field, stadium, road trips, Burt Reynolds Hall, Miss Betty’s, bowl games, around town, nothing but great memories of Tom and shared experiences. This makes me sad. I’m sorry for his family and loved ones, especially his two daughters.”

“As a player, Tom was a throwback,” said former teammate Eric Luallen. “He was a good, hard-nosed tight end who could be depended on to both catch and block. As a teammate he was a guy who would lead by example with his work ethic. As a friend, he was a fun guy to be around away from the field. Just a great guy.”

“What I remember most and fondest about Tom was that he was really cool and down to earth, humble guy,” said former FSU tight end Dave Roberts. “He was my host on my official visit and let me crash on his couch after national signing day when I used to come down (to visit) all the time. We had a really fun and charismatic position group in those early years with Tom, Pat Carter, Gaylon White, Reggie Johnson and myself. I text with Brad Scott (who coached O’Malley and Roberts at FSU) and he had heard the bad news and was very saddened as we all are.”

According to multiple players, including former teammate Henry Ostaszewski, the former Darien High School star had been struggling with several health issues in recent years.

“Tom and I had hip replacement surgery at the same time,” said Ostasewski. “We talked a lot during that time. Whereas my surgery and rehab went well, Tom had a horrible experience. He got a really bad infection and they had to take the replacement out and put in a temporary stint. The whole ordeal lasted more than a year for Tom and I knew he was in a lot of pain. Then a couple of years later he was diagnosed with CTE.”

“Tom was a good dude,” said former teammate Scott Schilbrack. “He always helped out the younger guys and was happy to explain things. Always impressed me how he could move for his size and had soft hands.”

(photo via Tom O’Malley’s Facebook)


  1. Christopher Holder

    One of the best TE’s we ever had and a better person, RIP and prayers to his family.

  2. Jerry Kutz

    I remember Tom well from back in the day. He was a great interview, always fun to talk to, and interact with. That was a very tight group. I remember after big wins one of those guys would ask me to take a photo of all of them lined up with the scoreboard in the background. Several times those photos became covers. I remember on being after the a Nebraska game.
    There are a number of good O’Malley stories fit only to be told at his Irish wake but until then:

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
    may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

    – traditional Gaelic blessing

  3. Dan Densmore

    I was at FSU the same time as Tom, but I didn’t get to know him until I was at the Osceola. I believe he was working for Host Communications next door, when I finally met him. What a friendly and very funny guy. We spent hours and hours going through old photos of football. He had a huge personality. I just remember every time he came over from next door, I ended up getting sidetracked. I didn’t know him for a long period, but I can see why he will be missed.

  4. Pat Burnham

    I always enjoyed being around time. He was always in a great mood and, like Dan said, had a huge, engaging personality. We had just recently reconnected on Facebook about two or three months ago. Glad we had a chance to share a few quick hellos over that time.

  5. Joe Ionata

    Tom was my roommate for 5 years at FSU. We had so many incredibly fun times. After graduation we stay close and in the mid 2000’s we were fortunate enough to work together for two different companies. I’m so grateful that over the past year, we had many great conversations. The last one was so fun, rehashing some of the playing days memories. We were laughing our heads off. But, what I remember most about our last conversation was how proud he was of his two daughters. Tom will be missed greatly.

  6. Pat Burnham

    Hey Joey-
    I am very sorry for your loss. Tom was a great guy and will be greatly missed. Thanks for sharing your memories with us and it was great to hear from you. I will add your comments to the story. His family just reached out to get a copy of it this morning.


    I remember Tom well. Because I recruited Deion, and because I was friends with McDuffie, Brad and Wally, I spent a lot of time around the guys commenting here. What a great group. And that is as good of a tight end array as anyone in college football had at the time. Tom is gone way too soon. He and his family is in my prayers.

  8. Eric McGill

    Man I am so bummed out. I came in as a Freshman TE when Tom was a Senior. Tom was always fun to be around and was extremely kind and generous. I was lucky enough to see him and spend time with him while attending a few games over the years.

    Tom O’Malley: the epitome of a “Cool Dude”.

    He will be sorely missed.

  9. Todd Shiver

    I was with Stan when he heard this sad news on Saturday. Had fond memories of Tom and shared a few photos. When I came down to visit, Tom always welcomed me as one of the guys. He will be missed.

  10. Art Knight

    Very sad to hear this news. We all had so many great times with Tom and that group of guys. It was impossible not to have good time when he was around. Big guy, with a big heart and I know his girls will miss him dearly.

  11. Chris Jaskiewicz

    Tom was a great guy and a great Seminole. I got to know him when I lived in Darien, CT and worked in NYC. My take is that he was a major, and low key, contributor to the birth of the Dynasty. The stories that he had about practices in the 1985-88 era were awesome. Those guys were the real deal tough, and they laid the foundation for the epic 14 year run of top 4 finishes, an unprecedented feat. It all started with that group. Tom was the lead blocker for the legendary 34 “wham” play that led us to many victories during that period.
    Several years ago I asked Tom to speak at my son’s 9th birthday party and bring his old jersey and Sugar Bowl ring. The boys loved it, and he loved it.
    Tom did not ask for or get the credit that he deserved. But he has always had the highest respect from those who know.


  12. Jim Gladden

    As one of his former Coaches, all of the Comments are spot on, He was a back up punter and as such had to punt in practice against our PUNT BLOCK DRILLS, not a good place to be, if you don’t want to get Beat Up. Tom was very Coachable, Very Respectful, and a Great Effort Guy. He was also very Tough. He and his Team Mates were the CORNER STONES of The DYNASTY Years.

  13. Casey

    Threw my first TD pass to Tom in the right flat! Loved his mischievous grin. He treated this punk freshman like a great older brother would. I needed it with the clowns he had in his class! #92 will be missed.

  14. Pat Burnham

    Hey Casey, thanks for sharing that memory of Tom. Hope that all is well with you and yours. Would love to have you on as one of our featured guest sometime on our Osceola Zoom Happy Hours.

  15. David Hogan

    I worked with Tom in the late 1990’s and can say that he was a very cool guy and extremely humble. The world was a better place for his being a part of it and I pray that his family can take some comfort in all of the comments here and elsewhere that show what a good man he was. RIP

Leave a Reply