14 All-America players and two legendary coaches from all levels of college football will be inducted at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 9 in NYC.
(Pictured: The NFF announced the 14 First Team All-America players and two legendary coaches in the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class. Among the inductees are four NFF National Scholar-Athletes: Tony Boselli (Southern California), Darrin Nelson (Stanford), John Sciarra (UCLA) and Wesley Walls (Mississippi).)
IRVING, Texas (May 22, 2014)
– The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced today the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class, which includes the names of 14 First Team All-America players and two legendary coaches. The inductees were selected from the national ballot of 75 All-America players and six elite coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and the 87 players and 26 coaches from the divisional ranks. PrimeSport
, the leader in providing direct access to the biggest sporting events on the planet, served as the official presenting sponsor of the announcement, which took place at the Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.
2014 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
· DRE BLY – DB, North Carolina (1996-98)
· TONY BOSELLI – OT, Southern California (1991-94)
· DAVE BUTZ – DT, Purdue (1970-72)
· SHANE CONLAN – LB, Penn State (1983-86)
· JOE HAMILTON – QB, Georgia Tech (1996-99)
· JOHN HUARD – LB, Maine (1964-66)
· DARRIN NELSON – HB, Stanford (1977-78, 1980-81)
· WILLIE ROAF – OL, Louisiana Tech (1989-92)
· JOHN SCIARRA – QB, UCLA (1972-75)
· STERLING SHARPE – WR, South Carolina (1983, 1985-87)
· LEONARD SMITH – CB, McNeese State (1980-82)
· DERRICK THOMAS (deceased) – LB, Alabama (1985-88)
· LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON – TB, TCU (1997-00)
· WESLEY WALLS – TE, Mississippi (1985-88)
· MIKE BELLOTTI – 137-80-2 (63%); Chico State (Calif.) (1984-88) and Oregon (1995-08)
· JERRY MOORE – 242-135-2 (64.1%); North Texas (1979-80), Texas Tech (1981-85) and Appalachian State (1989-12)
“We are extremely proud to announce the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class,” said Archie Manning
, NFF Chairman and a 1989 College Football Hall of Famer from Ole Miss. “Each of these men has established himself among the absolute best to have ever played the game, and we look forward to immortalizing their incredible accomplishments at the new Hall of Fame in Atlanta as an inspiration to future generations.”
For the first time in the history of the organization, the NFF has combined the inductees from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Division II, Division III and the NAIA into one class. In 1996, the NFF started formally inducting players from the divisional ranks. College Football Hall of Fame coach Eddie Robinson called the change one of the best things to ever happen in college football at the time, and the change has proven to be extremely successful during the past 18 years with the 144 divisional inductees.
“Combining the inductees into one class allows us to create a unified platform for honoring the game’s greatest legends,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “The change completes the process that we began in 1996, creating a cohesive process for what it means to be a Hall of Famer. We are grateful for the guidance, knowledge and vision of honors court chairmen Gene Corrigan (FBS) and Jack Lengyel (divisional) for making the change possible and the essential role that they play each in selecting the inductees.”
The 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be inducted together at the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 9, 2014, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The inductees will also be honored at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1, 2015, and they will be recognized at their respective collegiate institutions with on-campus salutes during the fall. Their accomplishments will be forever immortalized in the new $66.5 million College Football Hall of Fame, currently under construction in Atlanta and scheduled to open in August of 2014.
2014 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS NOTES
· FOUR NFF National Scholar-Athletes (Boselli, Nelson, Sciarra, Walls)
· TWO unanimous First Team All-Americans (Thomas, Tomlinson)
· SEVEN consensus First Team All-Americans (Bly – 2, Boselli, Butz, Conlan, Hamilton, Roaf, Sciarra)
· THREE multi-year First Team All-Americans (Bly – 3, Boselli – 2, Huard – 2)
· THREE winners of college football major awards (Hamilton – Davey O’Brien; Thomas – Butkus; Tomlinson – Doak Walker)
· FOUR conference player of the year honorees (Bly, Smith, Thomas, Tomlinson)
· FIVE bowl game MVP (Butz, Conlan – 2, Hamilton – 2, Sciarra, Thomas, Tomlinson – 2)
· ONE member of a national championship team (Conlan)
· FOUR members of conference championship teams (Hamilton, Sciarra, Smith, Tomlinson)
· NINE first-round NFL draft picks (Boselli, Butz, Conlan, Nelson, Roaf, Sharpe, Smith, Thomas, Tomlinson)
· EIGHT offensive players (Boselli, Hamilton, Nelson, Roaf, Sciarra, Sharpe, Tomlinson, Walls)
· SIX defensive players (Bly, Butz, Conlan, Huard, Smith, Thomas)
· FIVE decades represented: 1960s (1) – Huard; 1970s (4) – Butz, Nelson, Sciarra; 1980s (6) – Conlan, Nelson, Sharpe, Smith, Thomas, Walls; 1990s (5) – Bly, Boselli, Hamilton, Roaf, Tomlinson; 2000s (1) – Tomlinson
· TWO schools have players in the Hall for the first time (Maine – Huard; McNeese State – Smith)
· THREE national championships (Moore)
· 12 conference championships (Bellotti – 2, Moore – 10)
· 12 bowl berths (Bellotti)
· 18 playoff appearances (Moore)
· Winningest football coach in school history (Bellotti, Oregon – 67.8%)
· Most wins in schools history (Moore, Appalachian State – 215)
· THREE NFF National Scholar-Athletes coached (Bellotti – Dennis Dixon [Oregon]; Moore – Donald Campbell and Tony Washington [Appalachian State])
1. First and foremost, a player must have received First Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams.
2. A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation's honors courts ten years after his final year of intercollegiate football played.
3. While each nominee's football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and fellow man. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.
4. Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years*. For example, to be eligible for the 2014 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1964 or thereafter. In addition, players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.
5. A coach becomes eligible three years after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage*.
* Players that do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Honors Review Committees, which examine unique cases.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME QUICK FACTS
· Including the 2014 Hall of Fame class, only 948 players and 207 coaches, have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 5.06 million who have played or coached the game during the past 145 years. In other words, less than two ten-thousandths of one percent (.0002) of the individuals who have played the game have been deemed worthy of this distinction.
· Founded in 1947, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame inducted its first class of inductees in 1951. The first class included 32 players and 19 coaches, including Illinois' Red Grange, Notre Dame's Knute Rockne, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Carlisle's Jim Thorpe.
· 300 schools are represented with at least one College Football Hall of Famer.
· Induction for this class of Hall of Famers will take place Dec. 9, 2014 at the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City’s historic Waldorf Astoria.
2014 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE BIOS
University of North Carolina
Defensive Back, 1996-98
The preeminent defensive back of his era, Dre Bly finished his career as the only three-time First-Team All-American in ACC history. He becomes the fourth Tar Heel to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
Twice earning consensus First-Team All-America honors, Bly led North Carolina to three consecutive bowl wins, including victories in 1997 and 1998 Gator Bowls and the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl. A three-time All-ACC selection and finalist for the 1997 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, he set the conference record with 20 career and 11 single-season interceptions, and both marks still stand as school records. The 1996 ACC Rookie of the Year, he helped the Tar Heels to an impressive 28-8 record during his time in Chapel Hill, leading them to a No. 10 ranking in 1996 and a No. 6 ranking in 1997. One of only two North Carolina freshmen to ever earn All-ACC honors, Bly finished his career with 102 tackles, 27 pass breakups and 20 interceptions.
Drafted in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams, Bly spent 11 years in the professional ranks with the Rams, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. The All-Pro honoree and two-time Pro Bowl selection helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV during his rookie season.
The co-founder of DLH Sports & Fitness athletic complex, Bly hosts the annual Turkey Bowl Tournament in Virginia and runs a youth football and baseball organization in Charlotte, N.C. The Chesapeake, Va., native was honored as a member of the ACC’s Silver Anniversary Team and as an ACC Football Legend in 2012.
University of Southern California
Offensive Tackle, 1991-94
One of the most successful offensive linemen of his era both on and off the field, Boselli ended his decorated career at USC as a two-time All-American and a 1994 NFF National Scholar-Athlete. He becomes the 30th Trojan to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
Earning consensus First-Team All-America honors his senior season, the 1994 team captain and MVP was a finalist for the Outland Trophy and a two-time semifinalist for the Lombardi Award. The 1994 Morris Trophy winner as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-10, Boselli led the Trojans to three consecutive bowls, including victories in the 1993 Freedom Bowl and 1995 Cotton Bowl. A three-time All-Pac 10 selection and USC’s Offensive Player of the Year his rookie season, he earned academic all-conference honors three times and received the Trojans’ Howard Jones Football Alumni Club Academic Award as a senior. Boselli played under Hall of Fame coach John Robinson and coach Larry Smith.
The first-ever draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Boselli was selected as the second overall pick in 1995. The five-time Pro Bowl selection played seven seasons with the Jaguars before finishing his career with the Houston Texans in 2002.
The Modesto, Calif., native was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. A founding partner of IF Marketing, he established the Boselli Foundation in 1995 to work with at-risk youth and help them to cultivate high self-esteem and to succeed at home, at school and at play. He currently works as a radio analyst for Jacksonville Jaguars games and show host on AM 1010XL.
Defensive Tackle, 1970-72
A member of Purdue’s All-Time Team, defensive stalwart Dave Butz earned First Team All-America honors during his Hall of Fame career in West Lafayette, Ind. He becomes the seventh Boilermaker to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A Consensus First-Team All-American as a senior in 1972, Butz took home the Zipp Award as college football’s most outstanding player, and he was named a finalist for the Lombardi Award. A First Team All-Big Ten honoree in 1972, Butz registered 108 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and eight pass breakups for his career. The senior team captain participated in the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, where he was named Defensive MVP.
Drafted fifth overall in the 1973 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, Butz played 14 of his 16 seasons with the Washington Redskins, leading them to victories in Super Bowls XVII and XXII. The NFL’s “ironman,” he missed only four games his entire career. He retired in 1989 having played in more games than any other Redskin in team history.
The Lafayette, Ala., is enshrined in both the Purdue Athletics and Senior Bowl Halls of Fame. An accomplished motivational speaker, Butz appears at events for more than a dozen organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and Special Olympics while also supporting the fundraising efforts for the Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.
Pennsylvania State University
The epitome of “Linebacker U,” Shane Conlan led Penn State to a perfect 12-0 national championship season in 1986. He becomes the 17th Nittany Lion to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A 1986 Consensus First-Team All-American and finalist for the Butkus Award, Conlan recorded eight tackles and two interceptions in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl over Miami (Fla.) to give Penn State the national title. He led the Lions to three bowl appearances, including back-to-back national titles games, and he earned Defensive MVP honors in both the 1986 Orange Bowl and the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. The co-captain and team MVP his senior season, Conlan was the leader of the 1986 defensive unit, which held every opponent to fewer than 19 points. Twice leading Penn State in tackles, he finished his career ranked second on the Lions’ career tackles list with 274, and his 183 solo tackles still rank third in school history. Leading Penn State to an impressive 31-10-1 record during his time in Happy Valley, Conlan was named the Exemplary Player of the Year in 1986 by Football Roundup Magazine, and he was selected to play in the 1987 Japan Bowl.
Selected eighth overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 1987 NFL Draft, Conlan played six seasons with the Bills and three for the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams before retiring after the 1995 season. The 1987 Rookie of the Year and three-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection played in three straight Super Bowls with the Bills, and he was named to their 50th Anniversary Team.
Coached by Hall of Famer Joe Paterno, Conlan was named to Penn State’s All-Time Team, and he is enshrined in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Chautauqua County (N.Y.) Sports Hall of Fame. A community leader, he organizes the Shane Conlan Classic golf tournament, which raises money for the Heritage Valley Health System, the Shane Conlan Scholarship Fund at his old high school and various projects at Penn State. The Frewsburg, N.Y., native currently serves as the vice president of Corporate Partnerships for the Pittsburgh Power Arena Football League team.
Georgia Tech’s all-time leading passer, Joe Hamilton amassed a Hall of Fame career in Atlanta that culminated with winning the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award his senior season. He becomes the 13th Yellow Jacket to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
A 1999 Consensus First-Team All-American, Hamilton was a four-year starter, and he ended his career as the ACC’s leader in total offense (10,640 yards) and pass efficiency (148.2), currently ranking second in both categories. The ACC Player of the Year his senior season, he twice earned first-team all-conference honors, and he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1999. A finalist for the Maxwell and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards, Hamilton holds seven Georgia Tech records, including passing yards (8,882), touchdown passes (65) and completion percentage (62.0). He led the Yellow Jackets to a 30-17 record and three bowl games, including wins in the 1997 Carquest Bowl and 1999 Gator Bowl. Hamilton helped Georgia Tech to a 10-2 record in 1998, claiming a No. 9 national ranking and a share of the ACC title.
Selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Hamilton spent two seasons with the Buccaneers and one with the Indianapolis Colts. Hamilton also played for the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League for three seasons, posting a 32-15 record as the starting quarterback.
Inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2009, the Alvin, S.C., native was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Team in 2002, and he was among the inaugural class of ACC Football Legends in 2005. Hamilton founded the Alvin Recreational Youth Camp, volunteering with various other football and basketball camps and serving as a guest speaker at other events. He currently helps as a recruiting assistant at Georgia Tech.
University of Maine
One of the greatest football players in state history, John Huard led Maine to its first postseason game during a stellar career in Orono. He becomes the first Black Bear to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A two-time First-Team All-America (1965, 1966) selection, Huard led Maine to the Tangerine Bowl in 1965. The two-time First-Team All-Yankee Conference honoree recorded 22 tackles in his first game in 1964. Named one of the top 20 athletes in the history of the state of Maine by Sports Illustrated, Huard was the first football player inducted into the Maine Athletic Hall of Fame and the first member of Alfond Stadium’s Ring of Honor.
Chosen by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round of the 1967 NFL Draft, Huard played four seasons with the Broncos and New Orleans Saints. Huard became the head coach at Acadia University, leading the Axemen to Canadian National Championships in 1979 and 1981, before stints with Maine Maritime Academy and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
An active participant with the NFF State of Maine Chapter, Huard also volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club and the Susan Curtis Foundation. The Waterville, Maine, native currently serves as the president of Northeast Turf / Eastern Builders, which represents the GreenFields artificial grass system made by TenCate of the Netherlands.
Halfback, 1977-78, 1980-81
The first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 1,000 yards and catch more than 50 passes in one season, Darrin Nelson would accomplish the feat three times during his standout career at Stanford. He becomes the 18th Cardinal player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A 1981 First-Team All-American, Nelson ended his career as Stanford’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,033), receptions (214), scoring (242), and touchdowns (40), and he finished his career as the NCAA leader for all-purpose yards, which remains a school record at 6,885. The only four-time First-Team All-Pac-10 selection in Stanford history, he became the first freshman running back in conference history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. A finalist for the 1981 Heisman Trophy, Nelson held nine of the top 12 single-game rushing performances in school history at the end of his career, and he led Stanford to wins in the 1977 Sun Bowl and 1978 Bluebonnet Bowl. Honored for his all-around achievements as an NFF National Scholar-Athlete in 1981, Nelson was also a First-Team Academic All-America and academic all-conference selection.
Selected in the first round of the 1982 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Nelson played 11 seasons with the Vikings and San Diego Chargers. The Los Angeles native finished his professional career with 4,442 rushing yards, 2,559 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns, and he led the league with 4.9 yards per carry in 1987.
A member of the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame, Nelson was coached by Bill Walsh and Paul Wiggin (a College Football Hall of Fame player from Stanford), and he played alongside Hall of Famers John Elway and Ken Margerum. Currently serving as a Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of California, Irvine, he previously worked in the same position at Stanford as well as a community relations liaison between Stanford Athletics and various governmental agencies in the Palo Alto area.
Louisiana Tech University
Offensive Lineman, 1989-92
Louisiana Tech’s first All-American offensive lineman since 1946, Willie Roaf earned consensus honors in 1992 en route to becoming one of the most dominant blockers in the nation. He becomes the third Bulldog to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A finalist for the 1992 Outland Trophy, Roaf led the Bulldogs to a berth in the 1990 Independence Bowl, the school’s first postseason appearance since 1978. The senior team captain twice earned First-Team All-South Independent and All-Louisiana recognition. During his time in Ruston, Roaf blocked for two of the top five career rushers in Louisiana Tech history, and he was key to the longest rushing play in school history, an 88-yard run by Gerald Lawrence against Southern Illinois in 1991.
The eighth overall pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 1993 NFL Draft, Roaf enjoyed a highly-decorated 13-year career with the Saints and Kansas City Chiefs, culminating with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, he is a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team as well as the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor.
The Pine Bluff, Ark., native currently resides in Georgia and owns numerous rental properties in Kansas City, Mo. Roaf is enshrined in the Arkansas Sports, Louisiana Sports and Louisiana Tech Athletic Halls of Fame. His mother, Andree, also made history as the first black woman to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court.
University of California, Los Angeles
Continuing the fabled tradition of great UCLA quarterbacks, John Sciarra enjoyed an All-American career on and off the field. He becomes the 12th Bruin to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A consensus First-Team All-American in 1975, Sciarra finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting. He was named Player of the Game after leading the Bruins to an upset over No. 1 ranked, undefeated Ohio State in the 1976 Rose Bowl. A first-team all-conference selection his senior year, Sciarra led UCLA to a 32-10-3 record and the 1975 Pac-10 title. The team captain and two-time team MVP led UCLA in scoring in 1975, and he also led the Bruins in punt return yardage in 1972 and 1973. Sciarra holds the school record for rushing yards gained by a quarterback with 1,813, and he still ranks ninth in career total offense (4,464 yards) and 14th in career passing yards. Excelling off the field and in the classroom, he also earned recognition as an NFF National Scholar-Athlete and a First-Team Academic All-American in 1975.
Taken in the fourth round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, Sciarra opted to sign with the British Columbia Lions in the CFL, earning Rookie of the Year honors. The Los Angeles native went on to play six years for the Philadelphia Eagles, appearing in Super Bowl XV.
Sciarra played with Hall of Famers Randy Cross and Jerry Robinson at UCLA, as well as fellow NFF National Scholar-Athlete Mark Harmon. A member of both the UCLA Athletics and Rose Bowl Halls of Fame, he actively volunteers with numerous organizations, including the Red Cross, the Special Olympics and the United Way. Sciarra currently serves as the president and CEO of National Retirement Services, Inc.
University of South Carolina
Wide Receiver, 1983, 1985-87
Regarded as the greatest receiver in South Carolina history, Sterling Sharpe set virtually all of the school’s receiving records during his All-American career in Columbia. He becomes the second Gamecock to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A First-Team All-America selection in 1987, Sharpe twice earned first-team all-conference honors while setting school records for single-season receptions (74), career receptions (169), single-season receiving yards (1,106) and career receiving yards (2,497). He caught at least one reception in a record 34 consecutive games, and he notched 10 games of 100-plus yards receiving. Sharpe holds the school record for the longest play of any kind, a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Duke in 1985. He led the team in receiving for three seasons, and he helped the Gamecocks to a berth in the 1987 Gator Bowl. A team captain his senior season, he received the Enright Award for leadership, and he played in the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.
The seventh overall selection by the Green Bay Packers in the 1988 NFL Draft, Sharpe played seven seasons for the Packers. The five-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection led the league in receiving three times before his retirement.
A member of the South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame, the Glennville, Ga., native had his number retired by the university at the end of his collegiate career. A member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Sharpe currently serves as a studio analyst for the NFL Network.
McNeese State University
One of the greatest players in McNeese State history, Leonard Smith earned All-American honors during a standout career in Lake Charles, La. He becomes the first Cowboy to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A 1982 First-Team All-American, Smith twice earned both All-Louisiana and All-Southland Conference honors. The 1982 Southland Conference and Louisiana Defensive Player of the Year led the Cowboys to a 32-12-2 record and back-to-back conference titles and Independence Bowl berths in 1979 and 1980. McNeese State’s Most Valuable Player his senior year, Smith holds school records for blocked kicks in a season with six and in a career with 17.
Picked 17th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, Smith is the highest pick ever in Southland Conference and school history. He played nine seasons with the Cardinals and Buffalo Bills, and he helped lead the Bills to Super Bowls XXV and XXVI.
After retiring, the New Orleans native became a private businessman. A member of the McNeese State Hall of Fame, Smith was named to the Southland Conference All-Time 50th Anniversary Football Team in 2013.
University of Alabama
One of the most feared linebackers in Alabama history, Derrick Thomas concluded his career as the NCAA FBS leader in career sacks with 52 en route to winning unanimous All-America honors in 1988. He becomes the 18th Crimson Tide player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
The 1988 Butkus Award winner as the top linebacker in the country, Thomas led the Crimson Tide to an impressive 35-5-1 record and four consecutive bowl berths, including wins in the 1985 Aloha Bowl and the 1986 and 1988 Sun Bowls. Following his senior season, the two-time all-conference selection was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and he earned National Defensive Player of the Year awards from CBS, Football News and the Washington Touchdown Club. A finalist for the Lombardi Award in 1988, Thomas finished in the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting, and he was selected as the 1988-89 SEC Athlete of the Year across all sports. Besides the NCAA mark, he also set the SEC records for sacks in a season (27), and he finished his career with 204 tackles, 74 tackles for loss, 10 forced fumbles, two safeties and nine blocked kicks. Thomas played alongside Hall of Famer Cornelius Bennett during his time in Tuscaloosa.
Selected with the fourth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, Thomas spent his entire 11-year career with the Chiefs, culminating with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. The 1989 Defensive Rookie of the Year, he was elected to the Pro Bowl every year from 1989-97. The 1993 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Thomas holds the NFL record for sacks in a game with seven, and he was a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team.
A member of both the 1980s Alabama Team of the Decade and All-SEC Decade Team, Thomas is a member of the Alabama Centennial Team, and he was named a Sun Bowl Legend in 2000. Inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, Thomas was active in the community, starting the 3rd and Long Foundation in Kansas City to teach low-income children to read. The Miami native passed away on Feb. 8, 2000 at the age of 33.
The 2000 recipient of the Doak Walker Award, LaDainian Tomlinson helped return TCU football to prominence while rushing his way into the record books. He becomes the eighth Horned Frog player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
Voted a unanimous First-Team All-American selection as a senior, Tomlinson led the nation in rushing in both 1999 (1,850) and 2000 (2,158), and he finished fourth in the voting for the 2000 Heisman Trophy. The all-time leading rusher in both conference and school history, Tomlinson set NCAA records for most yards in a half (287) and most yards in a game (406) in a victory against UTEP in 1999. The 1999 WAC Offensive Player of the Year led TCU to consecutive co-shares of the conference title and three consecutive bowl berths, including wins in the 1998 Sun Bowl and the 1999 Mobile Alabama Bowl. Named the Football News Offensive Player of the Year in 2000, he earned First-Team All-WAC honors three times and owns seven conference and 15 school records.
Selected as the fifth overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, Tomlinson enjoyed a successful 11-year career with the Chargers and Jets. The 2006 NFL MVP twice led the league in rushing, and he finished his career fifth all-time in rushing yards (13,684) and second in career rushing touchdowns (145). A five-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro selection, Tomlinson was also named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2006.
A stalwart in the community, Tomlinson supports various efforts through his Touching Lives Foundation, including LT’s 21 Club, LT’s School is Cool Scholarship, Camp LT and LT Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament. He recently partnered with the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas to create a program promoting health and academic achievement at Thomas A. Edison Middle Learning Center in Dallas. The Waco, Texas, native also serves as an analyst for the NFL Network.
University of Mississippi
Tight End, 1985-88
One of the most acclaimed players in Ole Miss history, Wesley Walls claimed First Team All-America honors in 1988 at tight end while also being recognized as an NFF National Scholar-Athlete. He becomes the eighth Rebel to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
After playing strictly as a defensive end his first three seasons in Oxford, the 1988 team captain transformed into a two-way player his senior year as a tight end. Walls amassed 36 receptions for 426 yards and three touchdowns at tight end en route to earning AP First-Team All-America and All-SEC honors. As a defensive end, he recorded 140 career tackles, including 19.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, and he led the Rebels to a win in the 1986 Independence Bowl. An Academic All-America and three-time academic all-conference selection, Walls was chosen as a member of the 1980s All-SEC Team and honored as an SEC Legend in 2007.
Chosen by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft, Walls enjoyed a decorated 15 seasons in the NFL, helping the 49ers win Super Bowl XXIV during his rookie campaign. A five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro selection, he played for the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers, and the Carolina Panthers.
The Pontotoc, Miss., native currently works as a real estate developer, and he serves as president and CEO of Delta Furniture Manufacturing. Active in the community, he endowed a football scholarship at Ole Miss, and he was inducted into the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Independence Bowl Hall of Honor in 2001.
Chico State (Calif.), University of Oregon
Head Coach, 137-80-2 (63%)
The winningest coach in Oregon football history, Mike Bellotti created a Hall of Fame career, turning the Ducks into a national powerhouse.
After a brief coaching stint with Chico State (Calif.), Bellotti became Oregon head coach in 1995, becoming the first coach in school history to post a winning record in each of his first nine seasons. He took the Ducks to 12 bowl games in 14 seasons, including a win in the Fiesta Bowl after the following the 2001 season. The Fiesta Bowl victory gave Belloitti and the Ducks a single-season school-record 11 wins and a No. 2 national ranking. Nationally ranked in eight seasons, Bellotti’s Ducks claimed the Pac-10 championship in 2001 and a share of the conference title in 2000.
Boasting more overall (116) and conference (72) wins than any other Pac-10 coach during his 14-year tenure, Bellotti was a finalist for the 2001 Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award, and he was the 1986 Northern California Athletic Conference Coach of the Year while at Chico State. At Oregon, he coached 2007 NFF National Scholar-Athlete and Heisman Trophy finalist Dennis Dixon as well as five First-Team All-Americans and First-Team Academic All-Americans.
A tight end and wide receiver at California-Davis under Hall of Fame coach Jim Sochor, Bellotti helped the Aggies to a Far Western Conference championship in 1972 and a share of the conference title in 1971. A member of the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees from 2003-09, the Concord, Calif., native has served as the chair of the NCAA Football Rules Committee, a national vice president for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and a college football analyst for ESPN.
University of North Texas, Texas Tech University, Appalachian State University
Head Coach, 242-135-2 (64.1%)
The winningest coach in both Southern Conference and Appalachian State history, Jerry Moore became the first coach to lead a team to three consecutive FCS national championships, guiding the Mountaineers to titles from 2005-07.
After coaching stints at North Texas and Texas Tech, Moore moved to Appalachian State in 1989, and he finished his impressive career with 242 victories en route to becoming the 16th-winningest coach in Division I (FBS and FCS) history. The only coach to win AFCA National Coach of the Year honors in three consecutive seasons, he led his teams to 18 FCS postseason appearances, and he won a record 13-straight postseason games in contiguous years (2005-08). Moore claimed Southern Conference Coach of the Year honors eight times while leading the Mountaineers to 10 Southern Conference championships, including six straight from 2005-10.
Moore led the Mountaineers to one of the most memorable upsets in college football history, topping No. 5 Michigan at the start of the 2007 season. The win earned Appalachian State the distinction as first FCS team to ever top a nationally-ranked FBS opponent, and the signature victory helped them become the first FCS team in history to receive votes in the final AP poll.
At Appalachian State Moore coached 2011 College Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dexter Coakley, the only two-time winner of the Walter Payton Award Armanti Edwards (2008 and 2009) and NFF National Scholar-Athletes Donald Campbell (1992) and Tony Washington (2013). He also coached Hall of Fame defensive tackle Gabe Rivera while at Texas Tech.
The 2006 Eddie Robinson Award winner and 2009 Liberty Mutual FCS Coach of the Year was inducted into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame in 2014. Moore is enshrined in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. A former team captain at Baylor, the Bonham, Texas, native now serves as a guest speaker at events throughout the South.
About The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame, the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF Showcases, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF Faculty Salute Initiative presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association, and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. The NFF also presents the William V. Campbell Trophy endowed by HealthSouth and hosted at the New York Athletic Club as well as bestowing several other major awards at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City. NFF corporate partners include the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, Liberty Mutual Insurance, the Sports Business Journal, and Under Armour. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org.