Football

Herd’s Chris Parker on 2016 College FB HOF Ballot

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HUNTINGTON — Former Marshall University Thundering Herd running back Chris Parker is on the 2016 ballot for the National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame.

NFF CFB HOF

Parker, who played running back for the Thundering Herd from 1992-95, is still the all-time leading rusher in Marshall history with 5,924 yards. He leads the Herd in rushing touchdowns (68), single-season rushing attempts (349-1995, 329-1993 and 321-1994), rush yards gained (1,833-1995) and his 30 times with 100 yards or more rushing leads MU while his 209 yards and 3 TDs vs. Chattanooga in Oct. of 1993 is the 11th best rush day in school history).

Chris Parker

Chris Parker is Marshall’s leading rusher of all-time, with over 5,900 yards in rushing and over 7,000 yards of all-purpose yardage, leading the Herd in career touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. (HI file photo)

Parker led the Herd in all-purpose yards as a sophomore, junior and senior, his 7,145 career all-purpose yards is tops among all players at Marshall, his 371 attempts is best in a single season (349 rush, 21 receiving and a kickoff return) and his 1,200 attempts is also a record (1,119 rush, 80 receptions and 11 KR) while his 2,251 yards in 1993 is fourth most all-time and his 120.9 yards per game is fifth best.

Parker leads Marshall in scoring with 71 touchdowns and 428 points, while his 24 touchdowns in both 1993 and 1994 are tied for fourth most in a season and his 19 TDs in ’95 are tied for seventh. His 146 points in 1994 are fourth in a year, while 144 in ’93 is fifth and 114 in 1993 is tied for 11th.

The running back is 10th in the Southern Conference in most rushes in a game (40 vs. Hofstra on Nov. 19, 1995) as is his career rushes of 779 (1992-95). He is seventh with 4,560 yards rushing (the NCAA and the SoCon did not count postseason rush yards at this time, costing Parker 15 games at about 100 yards/game on his all-time total, but all games are counted at MU for 5,924 career yards) while his career average of 103.6 yards per game is ninth in SoCon history.

MUFB 1992 I-AA Championship Reunion Vern Phillips, me and Chris Parker, William King (right)

Chris Parker (right, yellow sweater) returned in 2012 for a celebration with his teammates (including Vern Phillips on left, and fellow Marshall Hall of Fame member William King behind him) on the 20th anniversary of the Herd’s National Championship. (photo by Bill Woodrum)

Parker’s three seasons with 1,000 yards per season is tied with six others for second while his 51 regular season touchdowns are ninth most in conference history. His 825 plays for all-purpose yards in the regular season is seventh in league history and his 5,497 yards in the regular season is sixth most among all players.

Former Marshall Coach Jack Lengyel chairs the Divisional Honors Court, while former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin chairs the FBS Honors Court. Both are National Football Foundation Board Members and Lengyel was instrumental in forming the Divisional Honors section that has allowed former Marshall players like Jackie Hunt, Mike Barber, Troy Brown and Michael Payton and former MU Coach Jim Donnan to enter the HOF since 2004, joining Harry “Cy” Young (inducted in 1958, Marshall 1910-12 and Washington & Lee 1913-16) and former assistant coach Frank Loria (inducted in1998 for his career as a defensive back at Virginia Tech in the 1960s), who died in the 1970 Marshall football air charter crash.

There is also a plaque honoring all 75 killed, including 37 players, eight MU staff and coaches, 25 boosters and invited guests and the Southern Airways crew of five, in the Nov. 14, 1970 crash — the story of rebirth of the Herd program Lengyel was very involved in as was told in the Warner Bros. movie “We Are Marshall” and the documentary “Ashes To Glory,” returning from a loss at East Carolina, crashing just short of Tri-State Airport —  along with a similar marker for Wichita State University (31-of-40 killed in crash Oct. 1970 on way to Utah State for game, including 14 players) in 1-of-2 chartered planes and for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (22-of-48 killed including 16 players on Oct. 1960 crash at take off at Toledo, Ohio after loss at Bowling Green State).

MUFB Chris Parker 1992-95

Chris Parker on the move in the 1995 National Championship game against Montana. Parker helped Marshall to the 1992 National Championship, finalist finishes in 1991 (as a redshirt), 1993 and 1995 and to the Southern Conference championship in 1994. (HI file photo)

Conference USA schools have eight players or coaches on the HOF ballot, including UTEP linebacker Freddie Carr, Rice running back Trevor Cobb, Middle Tennessee running back Joe Campbell, safety Don Griffin, offensive lineman Steve McAdoo and former head coach Charles Murphy, WKU former head coach Jim Feix and Louisiana Tech former head coach Maxie Lambright.

Herd fans might remember coaches and players who played against the Herd on the HOF ballot this year like EKU running back Markus Thomas (1989-92, 2-2 vs. MU), Western Carolina placekicker Kirk Roach (1983-86, 3-1 vs. MU), quarterback Dave Dickenson of Montana (1995, 1-0 vs. MU), Akron linebacker Steve Cockerham (1975-77, 2-1 vs. MU), NC State receiver Torry Holt (1995, 1-0 vs. MU), Florida Coach Steve Spurrier (also coaching at Duke and South Carolina) who coached the No. 1 Gators in the Herd’s opener at “The Swamp” in Gainesville in 2001, beating Bob Pruett’s Herd 49-14 — a slow start for an 11-2 Herd team that won the GMAC Bowl at the end of the season, 64-61 in two overtimes, another slow start as Marshall was down 38-8, at the half.

Other notable locals who played or coached at area teams includes Ohio State running back Keith Byars and fullback Jim Otis, Pitt quarterback Matt Cavanaugh and running back Craig Heyward, Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch, WVU Coach Jim Carlen (1966-69), who also coached Texas Tech and South Carolina, Glenville State receiver Chris George and Mount Union (Ohio) Coach Larry Kehres (23 conference titles and 21 undefeated seasons) and quarterback Bill Borchert who won D-3 National Championships for Kehres — 11 in all — in 1996 and 1997.

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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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