2017 National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame Class Announced


TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 9, 2017) — The National Football Foundation (NFF) and the College Football Hall of Fame (CFB HOF) announced the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class on Monday. The newest class to enter the new CFB HOF in Atlanta, Ga. includes the names of 10 First Team All-America players and three standout 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 95 players and 29 coaches from the divisional ranks (I-AA or FCS, Division II, Division III and NAIA).

  • Players:
  • BOB CRABLE – LB, Notre Dame (1978-81). A two-time First Team All-American, Crable owns nearly every tackling record at Notre Dame. He becomes the 46th Fighting Irish player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame. The 23rd overall pick in the 1982 NFL Draft, Crable played seven seasons for the New York Jets. While with the Jets, he went into his first business venture, a high-end sportswear company known as Crable Sportswear, which he later sold. After his professional football career, he returned to his high school alma mater, Moeller High School in Cincinnati, where he coached football and taught religion for 16 years. Crable would serve as the school’s head football coach from 2001-07.
  • MARSHALL FAULK – RB, San Diego State (1991-93). A three-time First Team All-American, Faulk was just the fifth player in NCAA history to record back-to-back rushing titles. He becomes the second San Diego State player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame. Faulk was a two-time unanimous First Team All-American in 1992 and 1993. The No. 2 overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, Faulk split his 12-year career between the Indianapolis Colts (1994-98) and the St. Louis Rams (1999-2005). His many NFL accolades include the 2000 MVP award, seven Pro Bowl selections and the 1994 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Leading the Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVI, Faulk ranks 11th in NFL history with 12,280 rushing yards. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Colts Ring of Honor.
  • KIRK GIBSON – WR, Michigan State (1975-78). One of the great receivers in Michigan State history, Gibson finished his All-American career as the school’s all-time leading receiver. He becomes the ninth Spartan player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He owns the Michigan State record with 21.0 yards per catch average, Gibson finished his career as the university’s record-holder for career receptions (112), touchdown receptions (24) and receiving yards (2,347), with the latter two still ranking in the top five. He was a First Team All-American as a senior in 1978. Gibson was a seventh round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NFL, but signed with the Detroit Tigers, winning a World Series in 1984 for his home state. He then was NL MVP in 1988, when he hit one of the most memorable home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers in game one of another winning World Series. Gibson, barely able to run, came up with two outs, runner at first and Dodgers down 4-3. His shot — his only at-bat in the entire series, gave LA game one of a 4-1 series win, and the play was called not only by HOF announcer Jack Buck on national television but by HOF announcer Vin Scully on the Dodger Network.
  • MATT LEINART – QB, Southern California (2003-05). One of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history, Leinart won the 2004 Heisman Trophy while guiding USC to consecutive national championships. He becomes the 31st Trojan player elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. A two-time First Team All-American, Leinart earned consensus honors in 2004 when he claimed the Heisman, Walter Camp Award, Manning Award and AP Player of the Year honors. The two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year led the Trojans to consecutive AP national titles. Leinart was selected with the 10th pick in 2006 by the Arizona Cardinals, and played for the Cards, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills in the NFL.
  • PEYTON MANNING – QB, Tennessee (1994-97). A 1997 consensus First Team All-American, Manning (son of NFF Chairman and CFB HOF QB Archie Manning) is Tennessee’s all-time leading passer and becomes just the second College Football Hall of Fame inductee ever to have also claimed the NFF William V. Campbell Trophy (won in 1999 by Marshall’s Chad Pennington). He is the 20th Volunteer player to enter the Hall. The 1997 Heisman Trophy runner-up (along with Marshall’s Randy Moss, Ryan Leaf of Washington St. and winner Charles Woodson of Michigan), Manning claimed the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Sullivan Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award among many others during his senior campaign. Manning is a no-doubt Pro Football HOF winner in time, playing 13 seasons for the Indianapolis Colts and four years for the Denver Broncos, winning a Super Bowl for each team.
  • BOB McKAY – OT, Texas (1968-69). A stalwart on the offensive line of one of the best teams in Texas history, McKay led the Longhorns to a national championship in 1969. He becomes the 18th player in school annals to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. A consensus First Team All-American in 1969, the 6-foot-5 McKay guided Texas to a perfect 11-0 season and the national title after defeating Notre Dame in the 1970 Cotton Bowl. Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1970, he spent nine seasons in the NFL with the Browns and the New England Patriots.
  • DAT NGUYEN – LB, Texas A&M (1995-98). The only player in Texas A&M history to lead the team in tackles four consecutive seasons, Nguyen is one of the greatest defensive players in Aggie history. The 1998 unanimous First Team All-American is the 10th A&M player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The winner of both the Bednarik and Lombardi awards in 1998, Nguyen started all 51 games of his illustrious career and still holds Texas A&M records with 517 career tackles and 30 double-digit tackle games. Nguyen played seven seasons for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.
  • ADRIAN PETERSON – RB, Georgia Southern (1998-2001). One of the most decorated players in college football history, Peterson remains the all-time leading rusher in Division I (FBS and FCS) history with 6,559 yards. The four-time First Team All-American is the second Georgia Southern player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The only sophomore to ever win the Walter Payton Award as the FCS Player of the Year, Peterson finished among the top three vote-getters for the award all four seasons of his career. The two time Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year led the Eagles to three national championship games, winning in 1999 and 2000. He played eight years for the Chicago Bears in the NFL.
  • MIKE RUTH – NG, Boston College (1982-85). The recipient of the 1985 Outland Trophy as the most outstanding interior lineman in the nation, Mike Ruth terrorized offensive lines with his combination of strength and quickness. He becomes the seventh Boston College player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. A consensus First Team All-American as a senior, Ruth led the Eagles to three bowl games, including a win in the 1985 Cotton Bowl against Houston. Boston College would finish the 1984 season ranked No. 5 nationally. Ruth was a three-time All-East and All-ECAC selection. He played two years for New England in the NFL, and two years with the Barcelona Dragons of NFL-Europe.
  • BRIAN URLACHER – DB, New Mexico (1996-99). Arguably the most decorated player in New Mexico history, Urlacher earned consensus First Team All-America honors in 1999 and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. He deservedly becomes the first Lobo (player or coach) to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The 1999 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, Urlacher led the league in tackles (154), forced fumbles (5) and fumble recoveries (3) as a senior. He played 13 years with the Chicago Bears as one of the NFL’s most feared linebackers.
  • Coaches:
  • DANNY FORD – 122-59-5 (66.9%); Clemson (1978-89), Arkansas (1993-97). The youngest coach in college football history to win a national championship, Danny Ford was only 33 when he led Clemson to a perfect 12-0 season in 1981 after defeating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. After coaching one of the most successful runs in Clemson history from 1978-89, he also coached at Arkansas from 1993-97. He guided the Tigers to six wins in eight bowl games, the second-most bowl victories among ACC coaches, with five coming against Hall of Fame coaches. The 1981 AFCA and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year coached Clemson to a school-record 41 consecutive weeks in the AP Top 20 and eight top 20 seasons, including four in the top 10. A two time ACC Coach of the Year, Ford led the Tigers to five conference titles and his 51 wins over his first six years is an ACC record. Ford was a team captain and earned First Team All-SEC honors playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach Bear Bryant at Alabama. Before becoming Clemson’s head coach, he served an assistant coach at Clemson, Virginia Tech and on Bryant’s 1973 national championship team.
  • LARRY KEHRES – 332-24-3 (92.9%); Mount Union (Ohio) (1986-2012). Boasting the highest winning percentage (93 percent) in college football history, Larry Kehres established himself as a coaching legend during his 27 seasons at Mount Union from 1986-2012. He also owns the most national titles (11), most conference titles (23) and most unbeaten regular seasons (21) of any college football coach in history. The winningest coach in Ohio Athletic Conference and Mount Union history, Kehres set an NCAA record for most consecutive victories after winning 55 from 2000-03. One of only 10 coaches in college football history to win 300 games, he was named AFCA Regional Coach of the Year a record 17 times, AFCA National Coach of the Year eight times, OAC Coach of the Year six times and in 2008 became just the second-ever NCAA Division III winner of the Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year award. Kehres’ Purple Raiders appeared in 16 national championship games and led the OAC in total offense and total defense every season from 1999-2009. He finished his career on a high note, compiling a record of 182-7 and winning seven of his 11 national titles after the year 2000
  • STEVE SPURRIER – 228-89-2 (71.8%); Duke (1987-89), Florida (1990-2001), South Carolina (2005-15). The winningest head coach in both Florida and South Carolina history, Steve Spurrier becomes just the fourth person ever to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. Spurrier began his 26-year head coaching career at Duke from 1987-89. The ACC Coach of the Year in both 1988 and 1989, his 1989 team won the university’s first ACC title since 1962 and made its first bowl appearance since 1960.Spurrier became the head coach at his alma mater, Florida, in 1990, compiling a 122-27-1 record over 12 seasons in “The Swamp.” His Gators appeared in back-to-back national championship games, winning the 1996 national title after defeating rival Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.

“We are extremely proud to announce the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class,” said Archie Manning, NFF Chairman and a 1989 College Football Hall of Famer from Mississippi. “Each of these men has established himself among the absolute best to have ever played or coached the game, and we look forward to immortalizing their incredible accomplishments.”

The announcement of the 2017 Class was made today live on ESPN’s SportsCenter in Tampa, Fla., the site of the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship, where No. 1 Alabama (14-1) was dethroned last night by No. 2 Clemson (14-1), 34-30, with a touchdown from Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson to Hunter Renfrow with 1-second left in the game. Steve Spurrier joined the ESPN set inside the stadium for the HOF announcement, representing the class and sharing his thoughts on induction. Spurrier and Peyton Manning (Tennessee) also participated in pre-game festivities and the coin toss on the field during the championship game, including an appearance by Manning on Championship Drive on ESPN.

The new tradition of announcing the College Football Hall of Fame class in conjunction with the CFP National Championship began in 2015 before the inaugural CFP title game in Dallas. The 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be inducted at the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 5, 2017, at the New York Hilton Midtown. The inductees will also be honored at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Jan. 1, 2018, and they will be recognized at their respective collegiate institutions with NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, presented by Fidelity Investments, during the fall. Their accomplishments will be forever immortalized at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

“We would like to thank CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock and his staff for the continued opportunity to announce the Hall of Fame Class in conjunction with the championship game,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “We are also grateful for the guidance, knowledge and vision of honors court chairmen Archie Griffin (FBS) and Jack Lengyel (divisional) for the essential role that they each play in guiding the committees in the selection of the inductees.”

Lengyel is the former coach of the Marshall University “Young” Thundering Herd, the team at the heart of the movie, “We Are Marshall,” recounting how Marshall dealt with a plane crash killing 75 in 1970, including most of the football team, coaches and staff. Lengyel was on ground central of the rebuilding of the program in 1971, including the first no time on the clock wins now kept by the NCAA, when the Herd beat Xavier 15-13 in the team’s first home game in 1971 following the crash. Lengyel was later an Athletic Director at Navy and Fresno State, and worked with the NFF to add the divisional players to the HOF voting back in 2000.

Marshall University did not have a player or coach elected, but running back Chris Parker will remain on the ballot for 2018 — the player who set many of the SoCon records broken by Petersen in this class of the HOF (Parker, however is given 4,200 yards of regular season rushing from 1992-95, taking 15 post-season games out of Parker’s career when he helped lead the Herd to the I-AA National Championship in 1992, second place finishes in 1993 and 1995 and semi-finals in 1994).

  • Marshall players and coaches in the HOF include:
  • Harry “Cy” Young (1910-12), a three-sport athlete at Marshall College (when Marshall was the state Normal School — a program to certify teachers who wanted to teach secondary education — from 1867-1920, when Marshall began to be a four-year college in 1921), who played quarterback, d-back, punted and kicked for Marshall as well as pitching and playing the outfield in baseball and leading Marshall to a runner-up finish in the state’s first collegiate track meet. He later played freshman ball for a semester at Michigan, then was a two-sport All-American at Washington and Lee;
  • John Seva “Jackie” Hunt (1939-41), who set a national record with 27 touchdowns in 10 games (not broken until 1971), a standout all-state player at Huntington High and who played for the Chicago Bears in 1946, after serving in WWII;
  • Mike Barber (1985-88) helped the Herd to its first I-AA Championship Game in 1987 and the first Southern Conference title in 1988, winning a Marshall record 10 games in the first year, and 11-2 in his senior season. Barber still holds the career yards receiving record at Marshall, and played in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers (fourth round selection), Arizona Cardinals and three years for the Cincinnati Bengals;
  • Troy Brown (1991-92) won a National Championship for the Herd with a 12-3 mark in 1992, Brown played receiver, returner for kicks and punts, and even defensive back in leading the Herd to back-to-back I-AA Championship games with Youngstown State (going 1-1) in 1991 and 1992, the latter the first of five championship games at Marshall’s stadium in Huntington. Brown was a two-time All-American, then won three Super Bowls in 15 years with the New England Patriots;
  • Michael Payton (1989-92) was the quarterback of those teams with Brown, and starter from 1990-92. Payton won the SoCon Athlete and Player of the Year in both 1991 and 1992, when he also won the I-AA “Heisman” when he was awarded the Walter Payton Award as POY in I-AA, as well as an all-american both as a junior and senior. He later played in both the NFL and CFL;
  • Coach John Maulbetsch (1929-30) was head coach of the Herd for two seasons, after his All-American career and HOF playing career for an independent team in Ann Arbor and a year at Adrian College before finishing at Michigan (1914-16), earning Walter Camp All-American honors his freshman year, sitting out as a sophomore with an injury, then playing again near an all-american level as a junior in 1916. He graduated and immediately got into coaching at Phillips University (1917-20) in Enid, Okla., then at Oklahoma A&M (today’s OK State, from 1921-28) — in Stillwater, Okla., also coaching baseball and basketball for the Cowboys. He entered the CFB HOF in 1973, and Michigan honors the Freshman of the Year with the John F. Maulbetsch Award every year;
  • Coach Frank Loria (1968-70) was the defensive backs coach at Marshall for first Perry Moss, then for Rick Tolley, who was head coach 1969-70. Loria went into the CFB HOF for his consensus All-American season in 1967 at Virginia Tech (where Tolley played, as did Frank Beamer — in the same backfield as Loria), and helped the Hokies to the Liberty Bowl in 1966. His No. 10 is retired at Virginia Tech (1-of-4), and Clarksburg, W.Va. (Loria’s hometown) still gives the Loria Award Dinner for top players in Harrison County. Both Loria and Tolley died in the Nov. 14, 1970 charter crash.
  • Coach Jim Donnan (1990-95) led the Herd to the NCAA I-AA Championship game in 1991-92-93-1995, and were semi-finalists in 1994 before a loss at Boise State derailed the Herd. Marshall won the title in 1992, but Youngstown State (and CFB HOF member Coach Jim Tressel) got the best of Donnan’s teams in 1991 at Stateboro, Ga. and in 1993 in Huntington (MU was I-AA host, 1992-96). After a 6-5 year in 1990, Donnan’s team won 11 games in 1991 (losing by 8 to YSU) and 1993 (falling 17-5), and 12 games in 1992 (beating YSU 31-28), 1994 (a 28-24 semi-final loss at Boise State, plus an outright Southern Conference Championship that year) and 1995 (when the Herd lost to Montana, 22-20). Donnan was Chevrolet National Coach of the Year in both 1992 and 1995. He was at UGA from 1996-2000, winning — for the first time — at least eight games in each season and winning four bowl games in a row. He finished with a 104-40 mark as head coach, including 15-4 in the I-AA playoffs and 4-0 in Bowls, as well as the SEC Coach of the Year in 1997.



ONE NFF William V. Campbell Trophy winner (Manning);

ONE all-time rushing leader in Division I (FBS or FCS) history (Peterson);

ONE school with its first-ever College Football Hall of Fame inductee (New Mexico – Urlacher)

THREE unanimous First Team All-Americans (Faulk, Nguyen, Peterson);

FOUR multi-year First Team All-Americans (Crable – 2, Faulk – 3, Leinart – 2, Peterson – 4);

FOUR bowl MVPs (Leinart – Rose Bowl, Manning – Citrus Bowl, Nguyen – Cotton Bowl, Urlacher – Senior Bowl);

FOUR played for College Football Hall of Fame coaches (Crable, Manning, McKay, Nguyen);

FOUR defensive players (Crable, Nguyen, Ruth, Urlacher);

FIVE decades represented: 1960s (1) – McKay; 1970s (2) – Crable, Gibson; 1980s (2) – Crable, Ruth; 1990s (5) – Faulk, Manning, Nguyen, Peterson, Urlacher; 2000s (2) – Leinart, Peterson;

FIVE winners of college football major awards (Leinart – Heisman, Walter Camp; Manning – Campbell, Davey O’Brien, Maxwell; Nguyen – Bednarik, Lombardi; Peterson – Walter Payton Award; Ruth – Outland);

FIVE national championships (Leinart – 2, McKay, Peterson –2);

SIX conference players of the year (Faulk, Leinart – 2, Manning, Nguyen, Peterson – 2, Urlacher); SIX members of conference championship teams (Gibson, Leinart – 3, Manning, McKay – 2, Nguyen, Peterson – 4);

SIX offensive players (Faulk, Gibson, Leinart, Manning, McKay, Peterson);

SIX first-round NFL draft picks (Crable, Faulk, Leinart, Manning, McKay, Urlacher);

SEVEN consensus First Team All-Americans (Crable, Leinart, Manning, McKay, Peterson, Ruth, Urlacher).


ONE coach with highest winning percentage in college football history (Kehres);

ONE coach who becomes only the fourth person all-time to enter the Hall of Fame as a player and a coach (Spurrier, joining Bobby Dodd, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Bowden Wyatt);

ONE Youngest coach in college football history to win a national title (Ford);

TWO of the Winningest coaches in school history (Kehres – Mount Union; Spurrier – Florida and South Carolina);

13 national championships (Ford – 1, Kehres – 11, Spurrier – 1);

14 conference coach of the year honors (Ford – 2, Kehres – 6, Spurrier 9);

35 conference championships (Ford – 5, Kehres – 23, Spurrier – 7);

126 First Team All-Americans coached (Ford – 15, Kehres – 77, Spurrier – 34).


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 full seasons 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 2017 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1967 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 full seasons 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.

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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