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Former Seminoles quarterback Marcus Outzen dies of rare immune deficiency disorder

'The Rooster,' who led FSU to victory over rival Florida in 1998, was 46
Posted at 1:27 PM, May 01, 2024

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former Florida State quarterback Marcus Outzen, who filled in for eventual Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke in 1998 and rallied the Seminoles to a victory over rival Florida, died Tuesday. He was 46.

Outzen, affectionately known by Florida State fans as "The Rooster" because of his red hair, died from complications associated with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare immune deficiency disorder, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Outzen's death was shared on social media Tuesday night by his son, Colton, who wrote on X: "Rest In Peace @MarcusOutzen. I love you so much Dad."

The Fort Walton Beach native played at FSU from 1996-2000 and started the final three games of the 1998 season – including the inaugural Bowl Championship Series national championship game at the Fiesta Bowl – after a severe neck injury to Weinke.

Florida State Seminoles QB Marcus Outzen vs. Tennessee Volunteers in Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 4, 1999
Florida State quarterback Marcus Outzen looks downfield for a receiver against Tennesee in the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl, Monday, Jan. 4, 1999, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

A two-way player who also starred at safety in high school, Outzen chose Florida State over Auburn and South Carolina. He attended Choctawhatchee High School, which also produced Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, who won the 1996 Heisman Trophy, and former FSU standout receiver E.G. Green.

Outzen, who once considered transferring after falling to third on the depth chart upon Weinke's arrival in the spring of 1997, was thrust into the starting lineup when Weinke suffered a season-ending injury at Virginia in November 1998.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound redshirt sophomore made his starting debut the next weekend in a 24-7 victory at Wake Forest, completing 11 of 19 passes for 164 yards in what then-offensive coordinator Mark Richt called a "C-plus" performance.

But Outzen is probably best remembered for his second career start when the fifth-ranked Seminoles (10-1) hosted No. 4 Florida (9-1) in a game with national championship implications.

The Seminoles rallied from a 12-6 halftime deficit to shut out the Gators in the second half on the way to a 23-12 victory.

Outzen went 13-of-22 for 167 yards, including the 32-yard touchdown pass to star receiver Peter Warrick that gave the Seminoles a 13-12 lead they would never give up with 3:29 left in the third quarter.

Florida State Seminoles QB Marcus Outzen throws vs. Florida Gators in 1998
Florida State quarterback Marcus Outzen passes as Florida linebacker Johnny Rutledge pursues, Nov. 21, 1998, in Tallahassee, Fla. The Seminoles rallied to beat the Gators 23-12.

"I really hadn't shown anything yet, and I hadn't been tested, really," Outzen later told reporters of his performance against the Gators. "Florida State-Florida is a championship in itself in Florida. Getting through that with a victory did nothing but boost my confidence and the team's."

The victory – along with a little help from Miami, which beat previously undefeated UCLA in a hurricane makeup game, and Texas A&M, which upset previously unbeaten Kansas State in the Big 12 Conference Championship game – propelled FSU into the first-ever BCS title game against undefeated and top-ranked Tennessee.

Outzen called it "a dream come true" for him at the time.

Ultimately, the Seminoles fell short in a 23-16 loss in the desert, but Outzen's legacy had already been cemented.

Florida State Seminoles QB Marcus Outzen on bench near end of Fiesta Bowl vs. Tennessee Volunteers, Jan. 4, 1999
Florida State quarterback Marcus Outzen reacts while sitting on the bench near the end of the Seminoles' 23-16 loss to Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl, Monday, Jan. 4, 1999, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. Tennessee claimed the national championship with the win.

Outzen returned to No. 2 on the depth chart when FSU went wire-to-wire on the way to winning the 1999 national championship. He was also Weinke's backup when the Seminoles played for their third-straight national title, losing to Oklahoma 13-2 in the Orange Bowl.

Most recently, Outzen had been living in the Tampa Bay area, where he worked as an executive oncology specialist with Guardant Health, according to his LinkedIn profile.