One won the Heisman Trophy. Two coached teams to national championships. Four have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And one went undefeated for his career as a starting quarterback at the NAIA level.
They are among 24 former players and coaches who will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday night at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center, next door to the construction site that will become the hall’s future home.
Here’s a look at the inaugural group chosen by the National Football Foundation to be enshrined in Atlanta:
Charles Alexander, RB, LSU, 1975-78: He was the first player in SEC history to surpass 4,000 career rushing yards. He still holds the LSU single-season rushing record (1,686 yards in 1977).
Otis Armstrong, RB, Purdue, 1970-72: He had 3,315 career rushing yards, sixth most in NCAA history at the time. He went on to lead the NFL in rushing in 1974 with Denver.
Steve Bartkowski, QB, California, 1972-74: He led the NCAA in passing as a senior (2,580 yards) and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1975 NFL draft (ahead of Walter Payton) by the Falcons. He played 11 seasons with the team, led the franchise to the playoffs for the first time and still holds the team's career records for passing yards and touchdown passes.
Hal Bedsole, SE, USC, 1961-63: He was the first player in USC history to surpass 200 receiving yards in a game and averaged 21 yards per reception in his career.
Dave Casper, TE, Notre Dame, 1971-73: He was the offensive MVP of Notre Dame's 1973 national-championship team. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Ty Detmer, QB, Brigham Young, 1988-91: He won the Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1990, when he passed for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns. His 15,031 career passing yards and 121 career touchdown passes were NCAA bests at the time.
Tommy Kramer, QB, Rice, 1973-76: He led the nation in passing yards in 1976 with 3,317, second most in NCAA history at the time. He is one of only two quarterbacks since 1970 to make consensus All-American on a sub-.500 team.
Art Monk, WR, Syracuse, 1976-79: He still ranks sixth in Syracuse history in all-purpose yards with 3,899. He played 15 seasons in the NFL, 14 with Washington, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
Greg Myers, DB, Colorado State, 1992-95: He won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back in 1995 and was named to the All-Western Athletic Conference team four times. He had 1,332 career punt-return yards.
Jonathan Ogden, OT, UCLA, 1992-95: He won the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman in 1995. He played 12 seasons in the NFL with Baltimore, appearing in 11 Pro Bowls and being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.
Gabe Rivera, DT, Texas Tech, 1979-82: He had 105 tackles and 25 quarterback pressures during a consensus All-American senior season. A first-round NFL draft pick, he was paralyzed by injuries in a car wreck during his rookie season.
Mark Simoneau, LB, Kansas State, 1996-99: He was runner-up for the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker in 1999. He played his first three (of 10) NFL seasons with the Falcons.
Scott Thomas, DB, Air Force, 1982-85: He returned a punt, kickoff and interception for touchdowns during the 1985 season. He helped lead Air Force to a four-year record of 38-12 and the first top-10 finish in the program's history.
John Wooten, OG, Colorado, 1956-58: He paved the way for an offense that finished first in the nation in rushing in 1957 and fifth in 1958. He played 10 seasons in the NFL, twice making All-Pro, and was named to Colorado's all-century team in 1989.
Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee, 1992-2008: He was named National Coach of the Year for the 1998 season, when he led the Volunteers to the BCS championship. In 17 years, he had nine 10-win seasons and an overall record of 152-52.
Jimmy Johnson, Oklahoma State (1979-83) and Miami (1984-88): He led Miami to the national title in the 1987 season and was 52-9 in five years as the Hurricanes' coach. He is the only person to win a college national championship as a player (Arkansas 1964), a college national championship as a coach and a Super Bowl championship as a coach (with Dallas following the 1992 and '93 seasons).
R.C. Slocum, Texas A&M, 1989-2002: He led the Aggies to three Southwest Conference championships and one Big 12 title. In 14 seasons, he was 123-47-2.
(Note: For its “Divisional Class,” which is part of each year’s enshrinement group, the National Football Foundation considers players and coaches from the NCAA’s FCS, Division II and Division III levels and from the NAIA level.)
Shelby Jordan, LB, Washington University (St. Louis), 1969-72: Considered the best defensive player in school history, he went on to an 11-year NFL career that included six seasons as a starting offensive tackle for New England.
Joe Micchia, QB, Westminster College (New Wilmington, Pa.), 1987-89: He led Westminster to back-to-back undefeated seasons and consecutive NAIA Division II national championships in 1988-89. He had a career record of 31-0 as a starter.
Art Shell, OT, Maryland Eastern Shore, 1964-67: He played offensive and defensive tackle in college before a celebrated career on the Oakland Raiders' offensive line. He appeared in eight Pro Bowls, won two Super Bowls and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
Jeff Wittman, FB, Ithaca (N.Y.) College, 1989-92: He was a three-time first-team Division III All-American, rushing for a school-record 3,410 career yards. He led Ithaca to the Division III national title in 1991.
Frank Cignetti, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1986-2005: In 20 seasons, he took the program to the Division II playoffs 13 times and the national title game twice. He was 199-77-1 as a head coach, including four years at West Virginia in the 1970s.
James "Boots" Donnelly, Austin Peay (1977-78) and Middle Tennessee State (1979-98): He led the latter to the NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) playoffs seven times and, at one point, to a 31-game home winning streak. His career record at both schools was 154-94-1.
Jess Dow, Southern Connecticut State, 1948-65: He was the founder of the school's athletic program and its first football coach, and his .721 winning percentage (108-40-6) remains the best in school history. He died at age 88 in 2003.
When; where: 7 p.m. Wednesday; the Omni Hotel at CNN Center
Who: Twenty-four former players and coaches will be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame at a dinner banquet. Twenty of the 23 living honorees have confirmed that they will attend.
Tickets: Sold out
Induction/enshrinement process: Hall of Famers from the major-college (now called FBS) ranks are "inducted" at a dinner at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel each December and officially "enshrined" the following summer at the Hall of Fame site. Of those to be enshrined Wednesday, 17 were inducted in December as the 2012 FBS class. In addition, the 2013 Divisional class — seven former players and coaches who competed outside college football's top classification — will be enshrined.
Selection criteria: A player must have been a first-team All-American in his division (FBS, FCS, Division II, etc.) at least once. A coach must have been a head coach for at least 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage. A player becomes eligible 10 years after his final season of college football. A coach becomes eligible three years after retirement from college coaching (or immediately after retirement if at least 70 years old). Those who are playing or coaching on the professional level are not eligible until they retire from pro football.
The voters: Preliminary lists of eligible, nominated candidates are sent to the National Football Foundation's regional screening committees. The top 60 or so vote-getters, as well as some carry-overs from the previous year, advance to the national ballot, which is mailed to the more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers. The results of that vote are used as a reference tool by the NFF's 14-member "Honors Court," which makes the final decision. The honors court consists of athletic directors, conference commissioners, Hall of Famers and media members.
Next year: The major-college group that will be enshrined in Atlanta in 2014 already has been chosen. It includes former Heisman Trophy winners Danny Wuerffel, Vinny Testaverde and Ron Dayne, among others.
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